Few things on this Earth are as boring as a Volvo, except maybe a Volvo estate. You know it, we know it -- hell, even Volvo knows it, which is why the Swedish company is offering owners of a V60 with a T6 engine the chance to inject some aggression into their cars with a £645 Polestar software upgrade. It unleashes an extra 24bhp of hidden power without compromising CO2 emissions, fuel economy or your warranty.
We went hands-on with just such a beefed-up V60 recently to see whether the 329bhp Swedish monster is the perfect Ikea getaway car, or whether the upgrade is a complete waste of cash.
Bestowing your Volvo with additional torque and power is a very straightforward process. No spanners, wrenches or grunting workmen are involved at all. Owners can simply rock up to their local Volvo dealership, fork out £645, and a kind workman will connect a laptop to the car's on-board diagnostics 2 port.
This allows the Volvo mechanic to upload new code to the car's engine-control unit -- a bit like Jeff Goldblum did at the end of Independence Day. Rather than telling the car to destroy itself, however, the code instructs the engine-management system to let its hair down and unleash some extra horses. After 30 minutes or so of transferring the new data, your once humble V60 will have been transformed into something resembling a mentalist.
With all that power at its disposal, the V60 T6 Polestar is quite rapid. Volvo won't confirm whether there's any improvement to the standard car's 5.9-second 0-60mph time, but it definitely feels rapid. Mash the throttle and the newly boosted T6 engine will launch the car towards the horizon at a rate that'll etch a giant grin across the face of all but the most hardened speed demon.
The car isn't quite capable of keeping up with truly extreme performance estates, such as the Audi RS4 or BMW M5, but its grunt is sufficient to allow overtaking manoeuvres that may have been tricky in the standard car.
Although the Polestar upgrade gives the V60 a speed boost, it doesn't alter the car's rather staid personality in the slightest, which is a shame. There's no burbling exhaust, no hair-trigger throttle response and it cruises along so lackadaisically and with such little urgency that you almost forget it has well over 300 horses at its disposal.
The car's transmission is slightly at odds with its newfound power, too. Volvo only supplies the V60 T6 with an automatic gearbox. While that's fine for cruising around, speed demons who've plumped for the Polestar upgrade may be disappointed by the lack of a manual option, or at least some paddle shifters behind the steering wheel.
That said, it's still possible to manually shift through the gears using the transmission's sequential mode -- nudge the stick forward to change down and pull back to change up -- but we didn't find this a particularly rewarding way of shifting.
The Polestar software upgrade unleashes extra straight-line performance from your V60 T6 for a relatively small outlay. It also makes the car more fun to drive, but, as it's a software-only upgrade, don't expect it to change the car's personality too drastically.
Edited by Charles Kloet