2015 Volvo Polestar review by Bruce Moxon, freelancer writer/photographer.
Okay, I’ll be honest. I was prepared to do lots of silly Swedish jokes – photograph the car while using thongs (Jandals – a Scott McLauglin reference), a hat and an Allen Key as props. But this car deserves much better than this.
David Conole tested this car’s predecessor last year, so we won’t go back over the technical details. Suffice it to say that the car has lots and lots of power, torque, grip, technology and comfort. This one had leather / suede seats and carbon-fibre trim. There’s a good sound system (with fiddly controls) sat-nav (same), Bluetooth connectivity to your phone or i-thingy and a sunroof.
We (daughter and I) took the Volvo to the Bathurst 12-Hour race, camping at the track. The car took all our camping gear (we overloaded, really) with no drama. And cruising through the packed camping ground, the car got plenty of admiration. No, really. A Volvo – admired! And not just by other Volvo drivers (of which there were a few).
Lots of people asked me about the car, whether I liked it, how it went and so on. Answers – yes, and well. It returned about 10 litres / 100km over the weekend, with city commuting, freeway / highway, first gear around the camping area and just maybe a couple of quick blatts on some drivers’ roads here and there.
Riding on 20” wheels with low-profile (35 series) Michelins didn’t hurt the ride too much, due to excellent damping and springing. Grip is prodigious – lots and lots of it without too much tyre noise, although there was plenty of ‘rumble’ on coarse surfaces.
On the subject of wheels and tyres…
Coming back from Bathurst we returned the long (and scenic) way, via Oberon and Jenolan Caves Road. I wanted to see how the car enjoyed a gravel road, so we came down Boggy Creek Road, a few kilometres of straight-ish, fairly smooth gravel. Seems in the process I ran over a couple of bigger bits of that gravel, denting a wheel and puncturing the tyre.
Here’s the only real downside to the car. First, it’s got a space-saver spare. The boot’s not too deep, so a full-size spare would take up a lot of room, admittedly. The space-saver can only go on the back wheels, due to the huge Brembo brakes on the front wheels. As I’d flattened the front tyre, that necessitated two wheel changes.
The jack is a pain in the arse, not to put too fine a point on it. The handle is fixed to the shaft of the scissor-jack and you can only turn it half a turn at a time; you can’t get any sort of rhythm going. Not fun. And then packing all our camping gear back into the car…
Actually, the whole drive back showed the car’s ability beautifully. First, the roads are quite nice – open and flowing with some twisty bits. And nice views. We wanted to see the Big Trout in Oberon, too – we like Big Things, you see.
So, between Oberon and Jenolan Caves Road, Old Mate in a red Falcon Ute crossed over onto our side of the road, fairly abruptly. We were going around a right-hand bend when he crossed over. A flick to the left, then back to the right (to avoid ending up in the forest) showed the car’s ability to drive around trouble. Didn’t even wake up the stability control, as far as I could tell. Then, after the dirt road, a suicidal kangaroo waited for us to approach, before leaping onto the road. But I saw it, and a big, hard brake saw Skippy cross harmlessly in front of us. Volvo 2, hazards nil.
Then the tyre went flat. Damn. By the way, I only detected the puncture as the bumps felt a bit sharper than before. Changed it, moved on. No sudden swerves, no firing off into the boondocks, no rolling 27 times and bursting into flames…
It took me a couple of days to really bond with the car. I bonded all right – it’s a magnificent bit of gear. It’s a high-performance sporting sedan with room for five people and some luggage. It’s perfectly happy tooling around town or gobbling up distance on a freeway. It’s engaging on a country road or highway, while not guzzling fuel. And in ‘Sport’ mode, it’s wickedly fast – with fast gearchanges via the flappy paddles, brakes that turn speed into heat in a flash and if you wanted to put some really sticky rubber on it, would probably be a pretty fair track-day car.
As an alternative to the more traditional players in this market (BMW, Audi, Benz), it’s a definite, genuine alternative. And it’s not like you’ll be called a ‘bloody Volvo driver’ for it. Unless you drive it like a Volvo driver, anyway. No, it’s a good bit of kit, worth your consideration.