A few months ago, Volvo announced it was to acquire Polestar, a tuning company. Many other marques have gone down this path in the past, the notable ones being Mercedes-Benz who bought AMG, FIAT who bought Abarth and Renault who bought Alpine. Volvo being the odd one out because their tuner starts with a “P”! Other manufacturers have created their own performance lines: BMW with their “M” cars and Jaguar with their “R” series, potentially Audi with their “S” series too.
What is significant about Volvo’s purchase? It shows a slight deviation from Volvo’s ultimately goal of safety – in fact the parent company has stated that it’s goal is to have zero deaths or injuries from drivers or passengers in their cars. What they are stating here is that they also want to provide an enjoyable driving experience at the same time, which is something to applaud.
Polestar has been running their racing program for some time and like the AMG acquisition some years ago, the racing team will stay separate from the Polestar tuning house. It will be renamed at some stage – probably before the 2016 season starts.
The main Polestar tuning “kit” if you can call it that is to marginally increase power on the existing “R” models and then dramatically improve the suspension so that it handles a lot better. The S60 model for example is a good run-about, however if you want something more playful you would need to buy an S60 T6 R-Design with upgraded power and dynamics. The S60 Polestar takes the T6 and adds more steroids. Clearly you pay more for this and you get a limited edition vehicle to boot.
Importantly, Volvo will start selling Polestar tuning kits for a wider range of models – some which have never had the option to fully utilise the potential of their engines or chassis. This will enable many more people to enjoy their family wagons more! Most cars leave their assembly lines with bags of untouched potential built in, either for later versions or for tuners to extract – the original manufacturer has to build to a common skill level, so this gives most “ordinary” cars a better life by being properly tuned!
The next generation Polestar models will have more tech in the form of a “twincharged” hybrid engine. This means that the main engine will have a turbo and supercharger added and it will be coupled to an electric motor. The batteries for the electric motor will be charged via a plug rather than using the main engine as a range extender. All great new technology that will see a range of new models with performance and safety features throughout.
I for one look forward to seeing more of these cars on our roads, choice is good and if Volvo can keep on their current design theme, then they will be on to a winner.
Update: 13th September
I read a press release that stated the new name for the motorsports team that was not sold to Volvo: Cyan Racing, after their badge colour!
Cyan will continue to act as the official Volvo Polestar competition arm in the Swedish Touring Car and World Touring Car Championships as well as Australia’s V8 Supercars.