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A Battle of Five Luxury Sports Sedans
The compact luxury sedan market is an interesting place. When designing a new entry, manufacturers are constantly trying to find the perfect balance between sport and luxury. Although most cars end up skewed one way than the other, these vehicles typically offer a plethora of trims and options that allow potential customers to tailor their rides with as much sport or luxury as they want.
Given a choice, we’d select maximum sport. We’d rather evaluate a car’s ability to clip an apex than by how coddled our mothers-in-law feel in the passenger seat. What better way to do this than collect a group of the latest and greatest offerings and see which one is the best? Now, we aren’t talking about the ultimate in sport luxury sedans like a C63, M3 or IS-F as they can get quite pricey. Instead, we have grabbed a more affordable group of contenders playing around the $50,000 mark.
First we sent an invite out to Cadillac. The all-new ATS seriously impressed us since coming out last year; it was a car of the year finalist after all. Next, we brought along the BMW 3 Series. If we are going to be testing luxury sport sedans, how could we not bring the vehicle that has defined the class for decades? While on the topic of German sedans, we also had to include a Mercedes-Benz and an Audi. Finally, to complete our quintuplet of test vehicles, there’s an oddball, the Volvo S60. Now, before you cry foul that the S60 is not a sports sedan, take a look at what we grabbed; the 325 hp S60 T6 R-Design.
A FEW CONTENDERS ARE AWOL
There are a few notable vehicles missing from this comparison test. Lexus didn’t have an all new IS ready for us, nor did Infiniti the all-new Q50 or Lincoln the MKZ. Finally, the Acura TL was left out because, although a great car, it is too large for this class of vehicle (a foot longer than most of the competitors here).
With the cars collected, pencils sharpened and score sheets firmly attached to clipboards, it was time to put these cars through their paces and see which is best.
The package reflashes the T6′s ECU, increasing power from 300-hp to 325-hp and from 325 lb.-ft. of torque to 355 without any sacrifice to fuel efficiency, effectively bumping the three regular T6 models to Volvos S60 R-Design levels of performance. Surprisingly, this package has yet to become available for the flagship S80 T6.
Chris Dauerer, customer service Vice President of Volvo North America, says, “Just a few weeks after announcing the performance package for select T5 models, we have already received tremendous feedback from our customers. With Polestar, we are able to deliver our performance-minded customers the enhanced driving package they have been looking for now across a variety of our carlines.”
Want a better Volvo than the one driven by a teenage vampire? Expect the warranty-backed Polestar performance package to go on sale December 5 for $1,495.
Polestar, Volvo‘s racing outfit founded in 1996 for competition in the World Touring Car Championship, will finally be introduced in the United States.
Specifically, Polestar is offering a factory-authorized performance tuning software for Volvo C30, C70 and S40 models that are 2008 and newer and fitted with the T5 engine. Priced at $1,295, the software enables increased airflow into the T5′s combustion chambers and advancing spark timing to promise a bump in power of another 23-hp and 29 lb-ft of torque while fuel economy remains unaffected.
Chris Dauerer, VCNA vice president of customer service explained, “Our performance-oriented customers have told us they wanted a tuning option for their vehicles. With Polestar, we are able to unlock the power potential of our engines which leads to impressive acceleration and a more memorable driving experience – not to mention it adds value to the vehicle.”
Best of all, the factory-authorized software product retains the original manufacturer warranty.
GALLERY: Volvo C30 Polestar Performance Concept
Hot on the heels of Volvo announcing their Performance Concept Prototype C30, Volvo Car Australia has pulled the wraps off their S60 Performance Project, a collaboration between Volvo, Heico and Polestar. Starting with an S60 T6 R Design, the Australian tuners has increased horsepower by 24-hp to 324-hp and torque has gone up close to 30 lb-ft of torque to 354 lb-ft.
No details were released on how the performance gain was achieved, but a the release did state a new exhaust system is on the Performance Project along with 19-inch wheels with Pirelli tires. Suspension is also upgraded on the sedan, lowering the vehicle by .6-inch with 15-percent stiffer springs with 20-percent stiffer bushings than the regular S60.
Volvo Car Australia is currently gauging interest in their S60 Performance Project and depending on demand, they may be building the S60 in limited numbers.
GALLERY: Volvo S60 Performance Project
The words high performance and Volvo aren’t typically used in the same sentence, but in recent years, Volvo has really put a new focus on developing sportier and more performance-oriented vehicles. While they probably still have quite a ways to go to change the customer’s perception that Volvos are mainly safe and boring vehicles, the launch of a performance-oriented line will go a long way in establishing Volvo a high-performance manufacturer.
Volvo’s collaboration with Polestar, the company responsible for Volvo’s entries in the Scandinavian and World Touring Car Championships, seems to have blossomed with this baby blue Volvo C30 Performance Concept Prototype. It appears that this C30 PCP will make it to production, limited to only 500 units, and will feature 400-hp in an AWD hatchback. Pricing will be set at around $80,000.
Volvo is looking to expand their PCP lineup by adding other models to the brand, potentially providing competition to BMW‘s M Series and Mercedes-Benz‘s AMG models. Now whether or not buyers will take Volvo seriously is another question, but we’re digging what we’re seeing so far.