Road Test – 2020 Volvo XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered:Like fine Swedish furniture electrified

Our tester, the XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered, is a perfect example.

The T8 indicates its Volvo’s hybrid configured electric vehicle 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine. Polestar takes that and bumps up the power to 415 hp and a combined torque of 494 lb/ft.

Added to the performance are Polestar Engineered model-specific Brembo brakes and Ohlins adjustable shocks and sport tuned springs.

Further adding to the fun are six driver-selectable engine/transmission/propulsion settings – Constant (AWD), Pure (all electric drive), Hybrid (normal driving), Individual (personal tastes), Polestar Engineered (performance)and Off-Road.

As a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), range in Pure is not that great at about 35 km, which is about par for the course in this segment. I managed 21 km in a mix of in-town roads and secondary highways.

It has an 11.6 kWh lithium-ion battery pack and is shipped with a standard J1772 cable for Level 1 or 2 charging.

The NRCan fuel consumption rating is 11.1/7.3/9.4L/100 km city/highway/combined.

The XC60 Polestar Engineered as tested here was lavishly equipped with a starting price of $89,150. With only two options, $1,475 for the 22-inch alloy wheels and $900 for the metallic paint, the price was $91,525, not including a $2,015 shipping fee.

So, what do you get for almost 90 grand?

First off it’s gorgeous to look at, with lines penned under the direction of an old friend, Peter Horbury, President of Design for Volvo and a possessor of more rollicking stories about the auto business than anyone I know.

On the outside, the body shape is smooth, which, like fine Swedish furniture, is uncluttered by needless character lines with the bi-level LED headlights neatly blended in following from the blacked-out grille with its discreet Polestar emblem on the lower driver side.

At the centre of the instrument panel is the Volvo Sensus touchscreen infotainment display that is fitted into the upper centre stack vertically, which is becoming quite vogue these days.

It’s a resistive pinch-and-swipe setup, instead of the usual capacitive screen, which is more common.

The reason for this becomes immediately evident in cold weather or during the current coronavirus pandemic, because you can use it with gloved hands.

The downside is it’s not that intuitive and takes a lot of hand swipes and jabs to get the display you want.

The optional colour head-up display (HUD) is big and bright with lots of information that can be seen in strong sunlight even while wearing polarized sunglasses.

From launch, the XC60 Polestar Engineered gets to 100 km/h in the mid four-second range, which isn’t bad for a heavier and stoutly built CUV.

Outward vision is very good and rearward mirror placement covers most of the angles but is, of course, bolstered by a full suite of current safety aids such as blind spot monitoring.

The seats look stunning and they’re just as good to sit in with just the right amount of grip, something I think Volvo does better than anyone in the business.

My week with the XC60 Polestar came during one of the last snowfalls of the year, which was heavy and wet and is always a challenge even with high quality winter tires.

Volvo knows a thing or two about winter driving dynamics and its AWD supplied excellent traction with the bonus of “feel” coming through to the fingers on the steering wheel.

I actually considered venturing out onto a partially frozen lake because ice is always the maker or breaker when it comes to winter driving, but backed off because the ice looked too thin.

The overall impression was as noted at the top, solid, but with the kind of performance and style the XC60 T8 imparts, it is a Polestar away from stolid.