by Stephen Dobie, 14 April 2015
Volvo chief tells TG there's 'clear demand' for a Swedish A45 rival, while hot SUVs are firmly off the menu. Two thumbs up
Good news, hot hatch fans: a Volvo V40 Polestar could lie on the horizon.
We say ‘could', but we have a sneaking suspicion there's a bit more certainty to it than that. After all, Volvo was shouting about its 450bhp, triple-turbocharged 2-litre petrol engine last year, a slightly saner version of which would be ripe for some hot hatchery. It'd fit a treat in Volvo's A-Class-sized five-door, too.
And TG has been speaking to Volvo's UK managing director, Nick Connor, about where its Polestar brand - Sweden's answer to BMW's M Division, or Merc's AMG - is headed.
"Polestar is not a mainstream offer," Connor told us. "It's a specialist low volume offer, mainly to demonstrate what we can do. I don't think it will ever be more than that. It will only ever be one or two cars."
Given that there is currently one model - the 345bhp V60 estate (other markets getting an S60 saloon version) - that leaves room for one more. So what should that be?
"I would like to see a V40 Polestar," said Connor. "I think there's a clear demand for that, and we've seen what Mercedes have done with the A-Class AMG. But it's got to be at the right price. It's not cheap to engineer small volume cars of that nature."
With the 355bhp A45 AMG and 362bhp Audi RS3 to take on, Volvo's tuned 2.0-litre appears very fit for purpose. Four-wheel-drive seems a given, likewise some trick Ohlins dampers and a paddleshifted automatic gearbox.
Connor was keen to stress that Volvo will always go about these things its own way, so something more understated and less rip-snorty than that A45 (or indeed the new Ford Focus RS) would be likely. And with no replacement for the funky but ultimately failing C30 planned, the V40 is as small as a Polestar could get.
We ask if there's room further down the line for Polestar versions in other areas of the Volvo range. A foray onto the worryingly busy performance SUV plains, perhaps?
"Some products are more suited to a full-blown Polestar model than others. An XC90 Polestar doesn't make sense to me, it just doesn't. We have a plug-in hybrid with 400bhp - is there really any need for a Polestar version above that? We're not BMW." That means there will be no BMW M Sport rivalling, ‘Polestar-lite' trim level, too.
While the Polestar name is familiar in Scandinavian touring cars, motorsport involvement is unlikely to be embellished elsewhere, Connor tells us, meaning no return for Volvo estate heroics in the BTCC. Boo.
But a proper Volvo hot hatch - following the teasing potential of warbling five-cylinder C30s and V40s of old - has got to be reason enough to cheer. Would you pick one over the German establishment?