Traffic was starting to build and I was getting worried. The reason being I needed to be through the Numbi gate of the Kruger National Park before 6pm, a trip of about 430 km. This was not going to be an easy task as I was already hearing reports of traffic jams, roadblocks and other situations working against me. Luckily I had one thing in my favour, the latest Volvo S60 Polestar.
Parked outside our office was Volvo's halo performance car finished in the brand's trademark Rebel Blue. Polestar is the Swedish manufacturer’s performance department, much like what AMG is to Mercedes-Benz.
It shares much of its DNA with their successful racing cars... something I was going to exploit along my journey. Before me lay long stretches of highway as well as twisty mountain passes courtesy of the Lowveld, but before any of that, I needed to get out of the city.
Thankfully, the Swedish smurf has a few tricks up its sleeves to assist with our chaotic traffic situations. It features something called IntelliSafe, which besides City Safety (AEB) includes the likes of Lane Departure Warning, Pedestrian Detection, Blind Spot assist, Cross Traffic Alert, Road Sign recognition and a Driver Alert system.
What does all of this mean? Well, once the Active Cruise Control (ACC) is activated, the car will accelerate and brake autonomously while maintaining a safe following distance to the car in front.
Once the Volvo got me out of the city unscathed, I was certain that it was smooth sailing now. Time to stretch the Polestars legs and see what it’s all about, right? No, unfortunately after only enjoying about twenty kilometres of highway, the traffic police decided to organise one of the biggest roadblocks I have ever seen. This caused traffic to back up so much that it took me a good thirty minutes to get through it all. Time was against me, my only hope lay in the Lowveld, or so I thought.
After spending more time getting through the rather expensive toll gates along the N4, I had decided to take the lesser used Schoemanskloof road to get to Nelspruit. This was my opportunity to unleash the Polestar. After hours of fuss free cruising, I popped it into Sport Mode and floored it.
The S60 Polestar screams to life with an ungodly almost savage sound. The reason for this is because the car makes use of an all new Drive-E 2.0-litre supercharged and turbocharged engine, instead of the 3.0-litre turbo six used before.
Another all dominating force is that of its forward motion, 270 kW and 470 Nm propel this thing from corner to corner with such pace it is actually frightening. Zero to 100km/h is said to take just 4.7 seconds.
To help keep everything in check, the Polestar engineers have fitted high performance Polestar/Brembo brakes as well as a Haldex all-wheel drive system which manages power output to all four wheels. Add to the mix, a new eight-speed Geartronic automatic gearbox which has been performance-optimised and this car is seriously impressive when you need it to be.
Unfortunately, my joyous blast was soon brought to an abrupt end as it quickly occurred to me that I was not the only one who decided to use this road.
Once again, the ugly head of traffic appeared, overtaking opportunities were few and far between. All I could do was put the transmission back into civilised mode and enjoy the cars interior, which is covered in leather and alcantara upholstery while the genuine carbon fibre ‘floating centre stack’ still looks good albeit getting on a bit.
After making it to White River, still stuck in traffic, the clock ticked over the 6pm mark. I finally made it to the Numbi gate a whole thirty minutes over my goal time. I wasn’t upset really because as I waited for the park rangers to come and escort me to the camp site, I reflected on the journey the Volvo and I had just completed.
It dealt with congested city traffic, highway cruising and when needed it made my day along the mountain passes of the Lowveld. Unfortunately, not many people will get to experience what I had because Volvo is only bringing 45 of these cars to South Africa and at a price of R750 000 with all the options selected, it is understandable why they are all accounted for.