Volvo is seldom thought of as a performance-car company but, ever since 1996, it has been collaborating with a race shop called Polestar, running competition versions of the 850, S40, S60 and now the cheeky little C30 in European touring-car series with considerable success.
Polestar's big thing is building and tuning race cars, but now some of the expertise they have developed over the years in making Swedish sedans Go Much Faster is available for your road-going Volvo through two new divisions - Performance and Services
And this is how it works:
Polestar has developed a software package that rewrites the parameters of the electronic control unit in your car's engine, increasing power and torque by between eight and 15 percent, depending on the model, with much sharper response and, in particular, considerably improved acceleration - all without physically modifying the car in any way, or affecting the original Volvo warranty.
It doesn't, however, bypass the car's electronic speed limiter. Sorry.
Polestar even claims that average fuel consumption will be unchanged but firstly, as Robert Heinlein proved more than half a century ago, there ain't no such thing as a free lunch, and secondly, it is unlikely that an 'average' driver would spend more than R10 000 on a power boost for his Volvo.
So, if you use that extra power on a regular basis, expect your Polestar-tweaked Volvo to be a little thirstier, although not as much as you'd think since all 'electronic tuning' is predicated on getting the engine to make more efficient use of the fuel it burns.
The Polestar ECU upgrade is available for Volvos with 2.0T, 2.5T, D5, T5 and T6 engines, at a little more than R10 000 per installation and, if you pre-order the package, takes less than a day to install - or it can be done in conjunction with a regular service, tyre change or when installing other Volvo accessories.
And, of course, it can be combined with Volvo's in-house R-Design sports suspension and trim packages for a sexy-looking Swede with extra go to match the show.