Volvo gets with the program

By David Linklater

Volvo Polestar. Photo / Supplied
Volvo Polestar. Photo / Supplied

Free app gives the V60 a performance upgrade

According to a survey conducted by British car insurance company Ingenie, 58 per cent of drivers aged 17-25 admit that smartphone applications - sorry, 'apps' as the cool people say - distract them when they drive.

Forty per cent say they've sent text messages while driving, 33 per cent use Facebook from behind the wheel and 17 per cent play Angry Birds. Even having a hands-free kit turns out to be bad, because the technology encourages 53 per cent of young drivers to make calls longer than five minutes when they should be concentrating on the road.

I do have a smartphone. But luckily, I am far too old to be distracted by news of what my FB friends are having for breakfast or birds with big eyebrows. I'm too lazy and uninterested to go looking for new apps online, although I do like the ones that come preinstalled.

Apps, huh? Volvo's flagship V60 wagon, the T6 R-Design, comes with an app that's potentially distracting. All T6 R-Design models sold in New Zealand come with a Polestar performance kit, which is not really a kit at all.

It's a piece of engine management software that's downloaded via the internet at pre-delivery time. An app from Volvo's tuning/motorsport partner if you like, installed without so much as turning a spanner. Suddenly, you have an extra 18kW/40Nm from the 3.0-litre turbo-six: total 242kW/480Nm, with 0-100km/h in 5.9 seconds. Very distracting.

The T6 R-Design Polestar is not really a model in its own right, more a compulsory enhancement. To identify it, Volvo New Zealand goes so far as to stick a blue-and-white Polestar badge on the tailgate.

It looks a lot like the Motor Trade Association (MTA) logo, but you need not fear for the mechanical health of your $93,990 wagon: because the modification is approved by the factory, it's fully covered by warranty.

If you were ever worried about people thinking your Volvo wagon was boring, this flagship model has neck-jolting acceleration and tenacious all-wheel drive handling.

It's not a wheel-twirling wild ride like a high-performance BMW or Mercedes-Benz, nor does it pretend to be. But the T6 R-Design does sound great and go hard when you want it to.

Being a pseudo-lout does not mean you miss out on the kind of cutting-edge safety technology you expect from a Volvo. Quite the opposite, in fact. Aside from the body kit, sports suspension and 18-inch wheels that come with R-Design, you get adaptive cruise control with collision warning, pedestrian detection, auto-brake and queue assist.

All V60s have City safety, which will automatically brake to stop you hitting the car in front at up to 15km/h.

So the T6 R-Design loaded with equipment, extremely good value and the addition of that extra power and torque has no effect on the combined fuel consumption figure of 10.2 litres per 100km.

Polestar: why wouldn't you? A moot point because if you buy the R-Design you have to. But what a great car for irresponsible old people.

Audi S5 Sportback

HSV Clubsport R8 Tourer

Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

The bottom line:
Factory-approved performance upgrade for flagship Volvo V60 is all pluses, no minuses. Also a great conversation piece when people ask you what 'Polestar' means

- NZ Herald

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