Motoring correspondent Mark Gallivan puts the 2020 Volvo XC60 Twin Engine Polestar through its paces.

Could stealth wrapped in safety and electrified performance be the new optimal in desirable motoring? Volvo had already nailed the first two crusades but the performance bit? Not so much.

Any opportunity to test the consummate middle-class Volvo CX60 SUV is something to look forward to. But, and there remains a reservation with all Volvos, their dogged approach by only offering four-cylinder engines when smoother six-cylinder options are readily from rivals at this high price raises an eyebrow.

“Amongst car brands hell bent on performance and safety or that unattainable degree of fun the Volvo ticks each of those boxes as a collective”

The XC60’s performance is derived from a 2.0-litre petrol four-cylinder supercharged and turbocharged engine with all-wheel-drive and a 65kW battery positioned in the central tunnel developing 240 hp with a punching 405 Nm torque. Add the 65kW battery to that output and this XC60 delivers to 318 hp.

Like all hybrid set ups performance off the line is impressive. The delivery of thrust in the XC60 is impressive for such a heavy SUV with almost immediate surges forward. The official performance of 0-100 km in 5.4 seconds with 2,370-2,660 kg fully laden is a very respectable result. I’d go further saying in this guise the Volvo four-cylinder strategy finally makes sense.

Power and performance

You will doubtless have spotted the Polestar name and this reflects Volvo’s electric performance subsidiary which manufactures the Polestar 1 and 2 models. The Twin Engine Polestar is the engineering range topper fettling within the XC60 fleet that includes the base Momentum/Momentum Pro, R-Design/ R-Design Pro and Inscription/Inscription Pro in all XC60 models.

Spotting this Polestar XC60 is not too difficult as it is fitted with 22-inch alloy wheels, yellow Akebono brake calipers and, out of site, Öhlins manually adjustable dampers. If none of the last sentence makes a shred of sense these things are nerdy petrolhead specialist parts that makes people who breathe through their mouths instead of their nose coo with absolute delight. For you and me paying €93,189 (my car as tested) it allows you to adjust how hard this XC60 rides on the road and the savagery of the braking distance.

On a week’s test I averaged 7.0 l/100km (or 34 mpg). That figure was estimated over several days of driving including a mix of urban and long stretches of motorway. Bearing in mind I frequently exploited the performance and the availability of instant torque it indirectly acted as a safety feature overtaking groups of cyclists on country road. It’s best to ignore Volvo’s economy claim of 2.1-2.6 l/100 km as the battery would need to be fully charged and used for most of the time on short journeys. Factor in the 2,370-2,660 kg in full weight and my average 7.0 l/100km is still a good result for Volvo.

These naked statistics and performance only shed a single view of the car. This is a fun SUV to drive that would be a delight to own and remain comfortable due to Volvo’s hard-wired knowledge of how to make seats supportive and reduce fatigue. Few other automakers do this so successfully. Then there is the image of a Volvo.

Amongst car brands hell bent on performance and safety or that unattainable degree of fun the Volvo ticks each of those boxes as a collective. For the best price point the XC60 T8 is logically sufficient and the Polestar warming of the XC60 is expensive and unnecessarily fast. But buying any car or SUV is rarely limited to common sense.

If you can afford the price jump from the T8 to this Twin Engine Polestar you will have an unanticipated performance SUV capable of blistering linear thrust. A final recommendation? Think twice about that new BMW X5 3.0 litre X-drive M Sport – this is an XC60 to justifiably pull you away from the consummate German rival. The XC60 Twin Engine Polestar starts from €88,977.

You’ll like: Stealthy performance. Interior comfort. Looks. Volvo’s eco image.

You’ll grumble: Suspension possibly too firm in softest setting. Little else.

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