FORGET EVERYTHING YOU KNOW ABOUT VOLVO BECAUSE THE SWEDISH HIPPY HAULERS AND SOCCER-MOM MOBILES ARE A DISTANT MEMORY. The modern Volvo is as much about performance as it is style and safety. One look at the model lineup and you’d be hard-pressed to find fault with the S60 sedan with its turbo six-cylinder and AWD, or the C30 hot hatch that’s as stylish as it is capable.
Volvo has done a remarkable job of reinventing itself over the past few decades with turbocharged cars and high profile touring car racers. Although bold design is an important factor, the company has joined a handful of manufacturers that offer factory-backed performance upgrades for enthusiast drivers.
It’s doing it through a collaboration with Swedish specialists Polestar. The company is both Volvo’s official racing and performance partner, even running training programs for Volvo technicians.
In fact, we recently looked in detail at both Polestar’s 450hp C30 T5 AWD concept [EC9/12] and the 500hp S60 T6 AWD concept (EC11/12]. Both cars aim to undermine preconceived ideas and prompt Volvo into building high performance models to combats the M, RS and AMC monikers.
However, its bread and butter comes from offering approved software upgrades for most Volvo turbo engines. These are often developed in the Volvo engineering facility alongside the production vehicles, allowing the carmaker to approve the upgrades.
In North America, many of the R Design models now come with Polestar software as standard equipment to make the packages more attractive to enthusiast drivers but you don’t have to buy a new car to take advantage. Currently Polestar offers software for the US-spec C30, C70, S40, S60, V50, XC60 and XC70 equipped with either the T5 or T6 motors.
Models equipped with the T6 are said to increase power and torque from the stock 300hp and 325 lb-ft to 325hp and 355 lb-ft. While the T5 is bumped from 227hp and 236 Ib-ft to 250hp and 273 Ib-ft. What’s more, the software is claimed to boost performance without hurting fuel mileage or drivability and preserving the factory warranty.
According to Andreas Naeslund, Polestar’s North American Sales Manager, the company differentiates itself from aftermarket tuners because the Polestar software is fully integrated into the factory ECU. “When Polestar develops software, we not only increase power and torque, but also re-optimize several other functions of the ECU like the DEP dependability system, which prevents partial malfunctions and certain conditions that could damage the engine. We also conduct extensive drivability and reliability testing to ensure nothing is compromised.
There’s no fine print with our software that states the Polestar upgrade is for ‘off road use only’ because all Polestar upgrades are certified and approved for use on public roads in all 50 states,” he explained.