Volvo V40 T5 Polestar: More than a regular latte

Walk into a coffee place these days and you’ll be bewildered by the many concoctions on offer. Would you try a mocha latte with whipped cream and extra caramel? Do the extra ingredients make it a better coffee? Or does it simply exist as an option for the discerning consumer willing to pay more for the privilege?

Car manufacturers perform the same basic chemistry with their offerings. BMW with their M bits, Mercedes has their AMG arm…you get the drift. With the acquisition of the independent Volvo tuning specialist Polestar, Volvo is now able offer an official upgrade path for their cars.

The V40 hatch is a Peter Horbury design; good looks made sexier with Polestar additions.
Two extra shots of espresso

The current Volvo V40 is probably in its last few iterations, even if the Peter Horbury design remains a looker, blessed with an athletic silhouette and easy on the eyes. And it now comes with the Volvo’s own Drive-E T5 powertrain marrying a 245hp/350Nm 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder with an eight-speed automatic. Tick the full Polestar Performance Optimisation package and your new ride could be coaxed into making 253bhp and a monstrous 400Nm of torque!

Polestar upgrades raise the standard Drive-E T5 output of 245hp/350Nm to 253hp/400Nm.

The state of tune isn’t the only thing that’s touched, the upgrade also improves the on and off throttle response and the gearshifts programming to match the new found brawn. Though billed as a separate option (there are five all together), the Polestar Intake and Exhaust upgrade is, in my opinion, an essential piece of the equation. The intake is fitted with a sports high flow filter and you also receive performance cat-back stainless steel exhaust, which not only allows the engine to liberate more power, it also sound fantastic. There is no annoying drone at any RPM, just a lovely burble at idle and a deep baritone at full whack. A more aerodynamic rear diffuser is also included in the package to complement the looks of the exhaust outlets.

Yes, whipped cream and extra caramel

The old adage remains eternally true. What is all that power without control? Along with the Chassis Package option comes bespoke Polestar spring and dampers, which also lowers the ride height by 10mm. I found it remarkable that despite the firm set up, Polestar has managed to keep the ride composed on our roads. Below 25km/h, the car would give you the impression that it’s going to be one hell of a rough ride, but once beyond that speed, the harshness fades away. A hint of body roll is still present but the V40 now wants to dance from apex to apex. It’s a pity that the steering isn’t more communicative, though you can tailor its weight.

Also unique to the Polestar package is a set of beautiful 19-inch lightweight alloys, they are shod with Pirelli P Zero rubber to generate some serious mechanical grip. I tried my best to ‘excite’ the front axle with 400Nm but can’t recall seeing the ESP light flickering much. They are sticky, those Pirellis.

If there are 19-inch alloys that are better looking, we haven’t seen them.

Handling aside, the wheels also enhance the look of the V40 by quite a few notches. Not even the Polestar Interior and Exterior package, which throws in a new wing spoiler and some subtle winglets on the leading edge. These aero enhancements claim to improve high-speed stability. We are told that Polestar now has access to all of Volvo’s testing facilities including their wind tunnels, so we’ll take their word for it. The interior is graced with a few more subtle visual enhancements with Polestar logos gently adorned on the door sills and the gearknob, along with a tasty-looking set of alloy pedals.

The taste test

Does the concoction make the coffee experience better? The answer boils down to personal taste and what you really like. Yes, the car makes more power. Is it better for it? Perhaps not, because the standard Drive-E motor makes more than enough for most drivers on most occasions. Does it look better? Absolutely, if you like it served in a tasteful but subtle fashion. Volvo will always be a brand built on the solid foundation of vehicular safety. But I also fondly recall the days when the Volvo 850 estate competed for BTCC honours against nimbler rivals, so the Swedes clearly know how to let their hair down. With Polestar now available as a factory-approved upgrade at the dealers, you have the choice of adding fun to the equation.

Volvo V40 T5 Polestar
Price: RM180,888 (base car); RM59,999 (Polestar package*)
Engine: 2.0-litre inline-4, FWD
Output: 253hp @ 5,500rpm, 400Nm @ 1,500rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Performance: 0-100km/h in 6.2 seconds, top speed 240km/h
Wheels/tyres: 19in alloys, 235/35 R19
Safety: 7-airbags, Electronic Stability Control
Warranty: 5-year / unlimited mileage

(* The complete Polestar Performance Optimisation package for the Volvo V40 T5 includes engine and transmission programming upgrades, sports air intake filter with stainless steel exhaust system, front and rear dampers by Ohlins with 10mm lowering springs, 19-inch lightweight alloys with Pirelli P Zero tyres, door sill garnish, aluminium pedals, gear knob, dark wing mirror covers and rear spoiler.)