A Polestar ECU upgrade increases the desirability of the Volvo S60 saloon – but is it too little too late?
Darren Moss
10 December 2012

What is it?

The original S60 T6 AWD we drove back in 2010 was a car of two halves. The smooth ride, uncompromising interior quality and comfortable seating gave this saloon a major thumbs up, but the lack of performance and overall metal for the price was a definite sore point.

Volvo has at least tried to rectify one of those problems by offering customers a Polestar ECU upgrade. At £660 it’s not cheap, but Volvo says tinkering with the car’s internal software can increase horsepower from 304hp to 325hp and boost torque to 355lb ft. 

What's it like?

Has it worked? In a word, no. There’s certainly more power from the 3.0-litre six and more boost from the turbo but the whole car is still hampered by the gearbox. 

Problems from the original model aren’t addressed either: the steering still has very little feeling from the road and the low-speed ride is too firm.

There are good points, however, and as you’d expect from Volvo comfort is paramount. Fully adjustable leather seats and a multi-function steering wheel make the T6 a relaxing drive. Passengers enjoy excellent rear legroom, too, and the interior quality is unparalleled. 

The upgrade doesn’t affect emissions either, and on our test run we still averaged 27mpg.

For those moments when you want to make full use of the extra performance the gearbox can be neutered, too, and the sequential manual option is perfect for such an occasion.

Should I buy one?

Unfortunately, the T6 still feels out of place in the sporty saloon market and thanks to the Polestar upgrade the price falls well over the £40,000 mark. Considering that rivals such as the BMW 330d cost considerably less, and can offer roughly the same performance, I believe our original verdict remains valid. This is simply an S60 too far.  

Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design

Price £40,250; 0-62mph sub-6.0sec; Top speed 155mph; Economy 28.5mpg; (combined); CO2 231g/km; Kerb weight 1684kg; Engine 6 cyls in line, 2953cc, turbo, petrol; Power 325hp at 5400rpm; Torque 355lb ft at 3000-3600rpm; Gearbox 6-spd auto

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Basil Hume 11 December 2012

Well, I am one of Volvo's new

Well, I am one of Volvo's new customers (and probably from a target demographic).  I'm currently an Audi S3 Sportback driver, but have been forced into a company car.

As others have mentioned, the real star of the S/V60 range is the five-pot 2.4 twin turbo diesel D5, which comes with 119/120g Co2 depending on manual variant.  I think a car like this is a real sweet spot for Volvo: distinctive, different and occupying a niche somewhere between a 325d and 330d. 

Frankly, there's nothing else out there that I can see with higher performance for lower Co2 than a D5, but the rest of the engine line up looks good too.  As a company car user, that has a massive impact. 

The whole Volvo range looks very strong at the moment - perhaps more the fruits of past Ford ties than Geely collaboration, but strong nonetheless. 

Volvophile 10 December 2012

This is Autocar, where

This is Autocar, where certain brands are never given good reviews.

Take the V40 for example.  Every other magazine has placed it near the top, including Auto Express.  This is what exposes Autocar as the second rate magazine it has become.  Aside from interesting articles from Mr Holloway, this publication holds zero credibility anymore.

Rich_uk 11 December 2012

Volvophile wrote: This is

Volvophile wrote:

This is Autocar, where certain brands are never given good reviews.

Take the V40 for example.  Every other magazine has placed it near the top, including Auto Express.  This is what exposes Autocar as the second rate magazine it has become.  Aside from interesting articles from Mr Holloway, this publication holds zero credibility anymore.

...and yet you keep coming on their website. :/

I do like this car and I'm impressed with the current Volvo line up. It's a shame that its D5 engine has proven to be very unreliable from my experience from the workplace. I'd love a 5-pot petrol but cannot afford the fuel bills! 

Citytiger 11 December 2012

Rich_uk wrote: I do like this

Rich_uk wrote:

I do like this car and I'm impressed with the current Volvo line up. It's a shame that its D5 engine has proven to be very unreliable from my experience from the workplace. I'd love a 5-pot petrol but cannot afford the fuel bills!

I dont believe that is the case anymore, the latest  5 pot diesels have proven to be very reliable, especially the latest twin turbo D5, and with the latest revisions to the 5 pot 2litre D3/4, its also a hell of a lot more refined.

The 5 pot petrol is now only offered in the latest V40( I believe), the only problem I have found with the S/V60 is the drivers footwell is very tight in the manual version and there is no left foot rest.

 

Volvophile 11 December 2012

Citytiger]

[quote=Rich_

Citytiger]</p><p>[quote=Rich_uk wrote:

the only problem I have found with the S/V60 is the drivers footwell is very tight in the manual version and there is no left foot rest.

That is something I will agree with, along with the somewhat snappy clutch on most of the five cylinder manual gearboxes.

 

Zedboy 10 December 2012

Polestar diesel makes more sense?

Pay the £600 for the Polestar upgrade on the D5 and it begins to make more sense. Ups power to 230bhp, big gain on torques, tho emissions stay at 119CO2s plus 60+mpg. 

 

Come on Autocar, who really buys big petrol turbos these days, report on what we really drive please!

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