While we think that design – specifically of the minimalist variety that Scandinavians seem to pull off effortlessly – has been the main factor behind Volvo’s recent rise, the early adoption of electrification in the premium segment played its part, too. No Volvo, even the biggest ones, come with an engine larger than a 2.0 litre turbo four, assisted by electric motors. Perfect for today’s climate.

Polestar, Volvo’s performance brand with roots in racing, has been spun off to focus on electrified high-performance cars. Now a separate company, Polestar has been wheeling out its own models without the Volvo badge – the sleek Polestar 1 600 hp/1,000 Nm PHEV coupe was its first, followed by the Polestar 2 full EV with 500 km of range, revealed in February.

Aside from its main business of developing Polestar-branded cars, the company still teams up with Volvo to provide the latter with an extra touch in dynamics. This Volvo S60 T8 Twin Engine Polestar Engineered is the first example of the collaboration, which very recently included the V60 wagon and XC60 SUV.

The areas covered by Polestar are the S60’s wheels, brakes, suspension and engine control unit. The striking 20-inch rims have an open design to show off the gold-painted Brembo mono-block six-piston brake callipers, which are cast in one piece and optimised for rigidity. The brake pads have increased heat tolerance while the slotted design of the discs further improves heat reduction.

The Polestar Engineered multi-link front and rear suspension incorporates Öhlins shock absorbers with the company’s trademark dual-flow valve design, which allows stiffening in the springs and dampeners while retaining comfort. The strut bar and adjustable shock absorber design are shared with the Polestar 1.

Fine-tuning of the PHEV’s ECU increases the T8 Twin Engine output to 415 hp and 670 Nm of torque, which is 15 hp and 30 Nm up from default. The software upgrades improve fuel consumption and emissions-neutral performance, and refines the automatic gear selection, Volvo says.

Gold tone, which marks out Polestar Engineered components, can be found on the brakes, valve caps and suspension tuning knob under the hood. Inside, the seat belts are in matching gold, although they look yellow to me.

As the PE is based on the S60 R-Design, it already looks sporty and aggressive in a restrained way (never OTT, which is a good thing), and Volvo has seen fit to just pepper the car with subtle visual cues – Polestar emblems front and rear and black chrome exhaust pipes are the hints. Look closely and you’ll see “Polestar Engineered” branding on the rims and exhaust tips as well. Vehicle dynamics manager Hans Backstrom points out all these, and more, in the walk-around video above.

The devilishly handsome saloon is set to be a rare sight on the roads though, and that’s because Volvo is making it in limited numbers and channeling most to its Care by Volvo car subscription service. Fittingly perhaps, because the ultimate S60 costs a pretty penny and takes an unorthodox route to arrive at a high-performance sedan – no big V8, no wide arches and no drama in the drive means it’ll remain a niche.

The regular third-generation Volvo S60 is set to reach our market in Q4 2019.