Volvo dips toe in performance waters with Polestar
AUSTRALIA could expand its role as a guinea pig for Volvo's Polestar division beyond the S60 mid-sized sedan launched here this week.
The Swedish car maker has worked with its Australian outpost to develop and deliver its first true high-performance sedan in more than 20 years, with the first batch of 50 S60 Polestars to be sold exclusively here.
Volvo has confirmed the limited Australian run will be a toe-in-the-water exercise to test the acceptance of Polestar as a legitimate alternative to the likes of rival European divisions, such as BMW's M, Mercedes AMG and Audi Quattro.
And, if successful, it could push to expand the dedicated Polestar range beyond the S60 and use Australia in a similar test bed, with both the smaller V40 and XC60 SUV targeted as potential future additions.
"The world is watching this exercise with much interest," Volvo Cars Australia boss Matt Braid said at the launch of the S60 Polestar.
"At the moment it is a pilot program in Australia for Australia. But we only have to look at the other opportunities with the rest of our range to see there is potential [to expand].
"Personally, I'd like to say yes [there will be more dedicated Polestar variants], but it is too early to say anything. We will look at what more we can achieve after this pilot program."
Polestar managing director, Hans Baath, hinted that the company had already commenced on developing a hotter version of the V40 hatch based on its stillborn entry into the World Touring Car Championship. But the project was iced - both the road-going car and race program - for the company to concentrate its efforts on the Australian S60 program.
Polestar, which has been Volvo's official tuning division and racing partner since 1996, has been slowly elevating its position into Volvo showrooms over the last few years with power upgrades now available on all of the Swedish models.
It has also just inked a multi-year, multi-million dollar deal to enter Australia's V8 Supercar championship from next season with a two-car team run by Melbourne-based Garry Rogers Motorsport. The factory-backed outfit will be called Volvo Polestar Racing.