The company dates back to 1996 when it was originally called Flash Engineering after owner Jan “Flash” Nilsson. They raced the Volvo 850 in the British and Swedish touring car championships (STCC) prepared by Volvo.
As the team grew it was given technical responsibility for Volvo’s one-make S60 championship in 2001, and by ’03 they were building STCC touring cars rather than getting them from Volvo.
In 2005, with Christian Dahl in command, the company changed its name to Polestar Racing and strengthened its link with Volvo. It continued to run the S60 series and led Volvo’s Formula Renault program.
The following year they moved to Gothenburg and took over the manufacturer’s school education program. The team also began building its touring car engines in-house, having previously been supplied by Volvo.
In ’08, Polestar was asked to develop the C30 for motorsport alongside its continued STCC involvement. The following year, Polestar launched its Performance Power Optimizations for Volvos, having been named the carmaker’s Official Performance Partner.
By 2010 they’d won the STCC, had prepared the C30 for World Touring Cars (WTCC) in 2011, and built the Volvo C30 Polestar you see here.
Last year, saw Polestar entries in the WTCC, STCC and new Scandinavian touring car series. It also expanded its Performance products into other countries including the USA and Germany.
2012 sees Polestar transfer from the STCC to the new TTA Racing Elite Series with the S60. It’s also rumored we will see a second Polestar-built road car, possibly based on the same S60 platform.
As Volvo’s performance and racing partner, Polestar works closely with the factory, even having personnel involved at the development stage on new models. It currently offers a range of software tuning available either from North American Volvo dealers as an approved accessory, or as standard equipment on most new R Design models – the North American market is unique in offering Polestar software on new models. For more information visit polestar.se or volvocars.com
Volvo C30 Polestar
Built as a demonstration of the company’s ability to combine its road and racing expertise, this is how Polestar imagined a high performance C30 could look and feel.
The concept uses the Volvo V50 all-wheel drive system, necessitating a shorter driveshaft. Complete with a Haldex Gen-4 controller plus Quaife diffs front and rear, the drivetrain also received an 850 flywheel and Sachs clutch. This was to cope with the extra power of the 2.5L T5 engine that was extensively modified using the rotating assembly and exhaust cam from the Volvo S60R, while the intake cam and valve springs were from naturally aspirated models.
An uprated KKK K16 turbo was mated to a Volvo diesel intercooler, larger injectors and a modified intake system. It also uses a 3" Ferrita stainless exhaust with race cat and in this configuration the engine generates about 450hp at 23psi boost pressure – a 50hp increase over our previous drive in EC 11/11.
The Polestar race team worked with its partners Öhlins and Brembo to ensure the chassis could transmit this power to the ground. The team’s drivers were then enlisted to fine-tune the set-up before we got our hands on it.
With its custom bodywork and stunning leather/alcantara interior, the C30 Polestar looks more like a show concept than a track car, but the Swedes were kind/foolish enough to bring it along to our C30 R Design track day. With it scheduled for Jay Leno the next day, we promised not to push too hard but were allowed some exploratory laps.
Under the watchful gaze of its minders, the C30 Polestar seemed reluctant to turn. When you got on the gas, it was quick but not mind-blowing. It just didn’t seem like 450hp…
Then the Swedes went to get us some lunch and we were alone, unsupervised. Grabbing lower gears, the engine started to perform. That awesome five-cylinder growl echoed off the hillside as we searched for the 7800rpm rev limit – allowed for 3sec before it drops to 7500rpm for safety.
Grabbed by the scruff, the turn-in became much sharper. Those Quaife diffs needed some torque to transfer… Suddenly we had massive grip out of the turns to match the braking power into them, and our lap times were tumbling.
Without wanting to drive at 10/10ths, we recorded a respectable 1:30" around Streets of Willow – equivalent to a stock E92 M3, but clearly there was more to come if we were prepared to risk the Scandinavian ire.
The Volvo C30 Polestar is hugely entertaining and a stunning example of what can be achieved with Volvo parts and some imagination. We understand there’s a new concept coming, possibly based on the S60 and hopefully related to the stunning new TTA racecar that was announced earlier this year.