First drive: 2012 Volvo XC70 T6 with Polestar upgrade
When we tested the Volvo XC70 crossover wagon late last year, it turned out to be one of the biggest surprises ever, as we timed it in the 0-100 kph run to be quicker than many sports cars. It certainly lived up to Volvo’s tradition for building flying bricks. But Volvo’s local dealer wanted us to try it out again, this time with a Polestar ECU upgrade.
Polestar is a Swedish tuning company that specialises in Volvo modifications. They have such a close relationship with the carmaker that Volvo now offers Polestar upgrades via the dealer, with full warranty coverage. The upgrades offered in the UAE are limited to ECU retuning for more horsepower.
Before the upgrade, our XC70 T6 managed a 0-100 kph time of 5.9 seconds! Of course, this was on the third try, the first two tries yielding 6.2 and 6.1 seconds. Also, for that test, we were given a car with an empty fuel tank, so we filled it up with “Super” RON98 petrol, as stated in the brochure. Using the premium juice made sure we got to use each and every ounce of that 300 hp 3.0-litre inline-6 engine with 440 Nm of torque.
The Polestar ECU software tune bumps that up to 325 hp and 481 Nm. It also adds a little blue square badge on the tailgate to signify you’ve spent around Dhs 5,000 on the upgrade.
We got the car again a month later, Polestar-enhanced, ready for an acceleration run. We attempted three back-to-back runs on the same road. We got 6.2 seconds twice, and 6.5 once.
So what went wrong? Well, for starters, this time the car came with a full tank of petrol, and by the dealer staff’s own admission, they filled the car with “Special” RON95. We didn’t have time to empty it. Previous experience with other cars tells us that fuel grade does make a big difference if a car is designed for the pricier fuel.
But we also noticed that the upgraded car was actually sprightlier than before. Just touching the throttle at low speeds would make the car jump up in speed. Also, it felt stronger on overtaking manoeuvres at speeds of 100 kph and beyond.
So the extra low-end torque and high-end power can be felt in normal street use, even if they didn’t make themselves obvious in our drag runs. Just make sure you stick to premium fuel before getting into a race with a Chevy Camaro SS.