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Volvo V60 T6 Polestar

Click to view picture gallery“Never heard of Polestar? Then
  you’re probably not Swedish.
  Polestar is a fairly big name in
  Scandinavia — a motorsport and
  tuning brand which has cars
  currently running in the Swedish
  Touring Car Championship

AND POLESTAR HAS A VERY CLOSE PARTNERSHIP WITH VOLVO. In fact you could think of it as Volvo's bid to create an AMG or M Power division. Volvo has decided that Polestar should be the brand to tune its existing products and make enthusiasts' fingers twitch.

And if you think the words 'enthusiast' and 'Volvo' don't belong in the same sentence, you obviously don't remember the 850R which blitzed the Touring Car scene in the 1990s.

If you do know Polestar's name, it's probably because you've copped its very striking four-wheel drive 400bhp C30 the bright turquoise thing that generated so much attention after it appeared on Top Gear. Trouble is, you can't actually buy a Polestar all-wheel drive C30 (and sadly it seems you never will be able to) because there's no suitable 4x4 platform on which to base it.

Luckily, Polestar has decided to go ahead and tune other models in Volvo's range and it's started with the S60 and V60.

“I luckily got to drive
the very first V60 T6
Polestar in the UK.
With 329bhp on tap, it’s
the most powerful car
ever made by Volvo
I luckily got to drive the very first V60 T6 Polestar in the UK. With 329bhp on tap, it's the most powerful car ever made by Volvo. I know this because the test car had huge letters plastered all down the flanks telling me just that. How very un-Volvo…

Polestar's tuning is a simple software exercise that tweaks the engine management system. Any Volvo dealer can do it, and it doesn't affect your warranty and neither, says Volvo, does it alter your fuel consumption or CO2 emissions!

The regular T6 already has a healthy 304bhp, but the Polestar package lifts that to 329bhp. Peak power comes in slightly lower down the rev range (5,400rpm versus 5,600rpm) but the main difference is the peakier torque curve.

While maximum torque is beefier (354lb ft versus 324lb ft), the peak arrives between 3,000 and 3,600rpm, in contrast to the standard T6's 2,100 to 4,200rpm. However, the Polestar delivers more torque across the whole curve than standard, so you're always quids in.

So has Polestar created a car that can rival a Subaru Impreza STi? After all, this is a car with 329bhp and all-wheel drive.

The short answer is: No. The engine does kick out more power and torque and yes, it's pretty fast in a straight line but it's not explosively quick.

It’s best to view this car
as a usefully rapid
ideal for barreling down
motorways and
surprising BMWs on dual
The transmission may have six speeds but it's far from the close-ratio manual delights of performance icons like Imprezas and Evos, or even VW-Audi DSG. Instead, it's an unaltered Volvo Geartronic 'box. That's a full automatic and it doesn't even boast paddle-shifts on the steering wheel. A bit soft then…

And while the V60 is perfectly competent through corners, it's not going to rock your high performance world. This is a car designed for safe speed, not sensory overload. It grips keenly enough and is perfectly predictable.

But does it turn in with precision and catapult you out of corners like a Touring Car hero? No. There's body roll and understeer. In fact, in temperament it reminds me of the old Mazda6 MPS genuinely fast but neither sharp nor rewarding.

It's best to view this car as a usefully rapid express, ideal for barrelling down motorways and surprising BMWs on dual carriageways.

The cost of Polestar's power upgrade is £645. It's only offered as an aftermarket exercise, and raises the price of a V60 T6 to £36,930. Whether you think 25bhp is worth that amount of money is, of course, up to you; but in my book, £25 per bhp is pretty good value by tuning industry standards. Chris Rees

Volvo V60 T6 Polestar | £36,930
Maximum speed: 155mph | 0-62mph: 5.8 seconds | Overall test MPG: 28.5mpg
Power: 329bhp | Torque: 354lb ft | CO2 237g/km