Big turbo, modified head, headers and software upgrades take 3.0L T6 engine (below) to an urgent 500hp
Big turbo, modified head, headers and software upgrades take 3.0L T6 engine (below) to an
While delivery may have softened, it remained hugely entertaining. Yet the track insisted you wait for its two short straights to exploit it fully. Otherwise, you were holding half-throttle around medium-speed turns for agonizing seconds. These were interrupted by dips and brows that could easily unsettle a badly sorted car.
“We’ve spent more than six months working solely on the suspension with Öhlins,” Robert said. “We were looking for grip, comfort and rotation, altering the e-diff in the rear to change the characteristics.”
Able to adjust the Haldex eLSD from 0-100% locking, Robert had dialed in his preferred lift-off oversteer to induce rotation but the engineers dialed it back to induce some initial understeer for safety.
On the track, we were able to overcome the understeer with a dab of throttle, finding the chassis very neutral mid-corner, and allowing you to promote mild oversteer out of the corners with heavier throttle application. The rear wheels would step sideways a few inches before the diff interrupted and brought everything into line. Then it was a case of holding onto the wheel to resist that torque steer as the engine hit its 22psi (1.5bar) maximum boost.
That said, the characteristics were delightful: both safe and entertaining, with just enough rotation to promote fast cornering without feeling like it was always on a knife edge. And the chosen 265/30 Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires on custom 19x9.5" Polestar wheels gave high grip and were wonderfully predictable.
While the tires provided lots of feedback, Robert and the Polestar engineers had also experimented with bushings and even recalibrated a Volvo V40 steering rack. “I’d like more [feedback] but it probably won’t happen,” laughed Dahlgren as he described the partnership between the development team and its goals. He was determined to create a razor-sharp track machine while the engineers would tame it for regular road conditions.
Given our previous briefing, these safety margins were appreciated, but you knew everything could be overwhelmed by a hard squeeze on the throttle. And this would undoubtedly call on the final piece of the chassis puzzle: the brakes. Sporting massive 380mm front discs, clamped by six-piston Brembo calipers, they could be modulated perfectly, while giving you the ability to stop on a dime.
Trying to eek the most out of the short straights, we’d hammer on the brakes at the last possible moment, happy to discover their performance was powerful and consistent.
High horsepower allows fast entry speeds, necessitating wide tires to provide lots of grip. This simple formula resulted in widened fenders to accommodate the big Michelins. Up front, they were constructed from carbon fiber (along with the front bumper, side skirts, rear bumper, diffuser and trunk spoiler). The rear fenders were constructed from steel, along with rear door skins to blend into them. Once attached, the body was galvanized at the Volvo factory.
The extra 20mm width allowed the track to be widened 20mm front and 40mm rear. And with the car 30mm lower on its coilovers, it created an aggressive stance on the unique wheels.
With an estimated top speed in excess of 185mph, Volvo made its wind-tunnel available to verify the reduced lift offered by the new spoilers.
The use of carbon fiber, and the decision to fit a close-ratio manual transmission instead of an auto, dropped the overall weight to 3615 lb from 3812 lb. Fitting a smaller battery and other concessions also allowed them to optimize its distribution.
Painted in vibrant Polestar blue, the car is undeniably arresting. As much part of its signature as the high output and competition chassis, we can’t help speculate how the car would appear in a gunmetal grey, for example. Losing some of its cartoon persona might help people view the concept differently, see it as a more viable competitor to the M3 perhaps?
In production guise, 400hp would be ample yet the tuner went for a headling-grabbing 500hp, and we’re grateful it did. Its savage yet linear acceleration was accompanied by both a racecar wail and a hapless grin.
There aren’t many Volvos that would make you giggle this way, but a larger Garrett turbo and modified head play their part. As does a custom exhaust manifold and 3.5" Ferrita exhaust system that give the 3.0L T6 its baritone voice. Reinforced with forged rods and fueled by Polestar software, the engine is similar to the thousands of big-turbo T6 built in barns across Sweden every winter, except this one could carry a warranty.