THE SPORTY SOLUTION

Firm suspensions are a heresy for real Volvo traditionalists, so Volvo gave them the lofty 240, 740 and 940s to live with. For the modern-day enthusiast, Gothenburg is here to give us the suave-looking S60, S90 or the V40 hatchback. But how about something zesty without bringing the boy-racer innards from flourishing out? This is where the V40 tuned by Polestar kicks in.

words by
KEEGAN DORAI

Tucked in a set of Pirelli P Zero rubbers, grip levels are immense. Simply pitch into a bend and you’ll never hear a single screech or snap in traction, giving you a rather pointed power through with loads of engagement. However, you can’t really expect much from the steering response, all because its programmed in exchange for easier manoeuvrability rather than some wrist-pressuring apex feedback.

Performance-wise, the Polestar optimised V40 churns out 8bhp and 50Nm more over the standard 245bhp and 350Nm. In return, you’ll get 253bhp and a whooping 400Nm. Yes, it’s tuned to offer better lower-end juice, so don’t expect it to really pull away like Saturn V at higher speeds. What you should check out over here is the perpetual pickup it offers from a standstill to 120km/h. Include that snazzy exhaust note in, it’s simply addictive.

All power is delivered through the front wheels, and there’s an eight-speed automatic transmission set in place. Yes, the torque converter isn’t the fastest unit out there, and I’d swap it for a dual-clutch cog for better conveyance. Nonetheless, Volvo has slotted in a set of paddle shifters to keep things going on at a rapider pace; despite lacking a little sparkle in gearing response.

Being a Polestar-badged variant, it also brings in a line of new touches inside out. Apart from the extremely delightful looking alloys and subtle rear spoiler fins, you’ll get bespoke kickplates, a Polestar-badged gearknob and sport pedals as well. Result is, it looks absolutely stunning and special. To me, I think its damn well worth it even though these adornments will set you back an additional RM59,999.

A place where all things are just created around you. You don’t expect someone to come over to your place and assist you on assembling that armchair you bought from Ikea, or even hoping for that waiter to serve you a cup of coffee with a teaspoon accompanied together. Yes, you will never get the same patronising-like treatment like in Asia.

Because it all grinds down on one simple thing. They live and breathe according to the principles of ‘Jantelagen’ — or best known as the Law of Jante. Its one belief that brings all Swedes together in a more equal manner. Like you shall not boast about making a million bucks and flaunt your baby blue-wrapped Ferrari while driving around the streets of Stockholm.

You see, those kind of things will only appeal to blokes hanging outside of Pavilion in Kuala Lumpur. And I can assure you they are tucked in a showy-looking outfit that is topped off with a pair of ‘kicks’ — as opposed to what is known as distasteful sneakers to us normal people. Those are the sort of kooks that used to dither over cars like the Volkswagen Golf GTi, and now hoarding themselves towards the Mercedes A200.

But pardon my harshness on that, and I have no issues with those two cars that I’ve aforementioned. I love the Golf GTi so much, all because it's a great hot-hatch to drive that trumps practically almost all of its rivals. Its even got history to begin with.

However, the demographics that buy those cars are the biggest problem. They have graduated from their days of owning a Perodua Myvi with a GT-wing or either a Suzuki Swift that is littered with a slew of LED lights. Making it even more happening than a carousel you can find in a circus.

Emerging onto a whole new lifestyle is indeed great progress. But if that old mentality still remains, then it’s, in essence, hopeless. This is why Volvo is here to give us the Volvo V40 Polestar Edition — for us — the less showy but reserved and still sporting society set.

The V40 originally started off life as a replacement over the S40 saloon and the V50 estate.The concept is very nice, but the idea of morphing both of the S40 and V50 into a hatchback is quite disappointing in all honesty. If you're a hardcore Volvo guy, you wouldn't perceive this as a true blue Volvo. And this is why it isn’t really one.

Sweden.

At the back, space is inadequate. Despite using a couch that is elevated slightly higher than the front seats in order to boost ambience, it eats into the headroom area — and eventually occupants seated at the back will end up feeling even more claustrophobic than a dingy karaoke room.

Secondly, its practicality. That 335-litre boot space however,is just not enough. Yes the seats are still folded up but if you do tuck it away, there’s 1032-litres worth of cargo storage. How can it be humanely possible in anyway smaller than a BMW 1-series? Volvo should’ve just ditched the ‘V’ designation out from the ’40’ cause that’s normally reserved for its roomy wagons — which serves a complete purpose living up to its original nomenclature.

And lastly, that jarring ride quality. Mind you, I’m not describing the same experience you’ll find with the Polestar-packaged V40, but actually in the bog-standard T5. So if you are keen on having this, then forget about ferrying your old folks or mates.

But what if you’ve decided to leave everyone else to take the bus, and not care about ferrying bulky goods from Ikea? This is where it makes so much sense. Its absolutely bonkers, and the Swedes are very capable at scoring flying colours at making stuffs like this.

Hiding beneath that swanky bodyshell are slew of relatively simple upgrades; where it includes a set of extra stiffer dampers, exhaust system upgrade, a remap-based power hike and some niceties like those really stunning wheels. A worthy piece of hot-hatchery that even Thed Björk would consider this as his daily runabout.

So, what’s the outcome? An extremely surprising hot hatch that drives pleasingly well. Even though the regular V40 is no slouch or marshmallow in corners, the Polestar edition however, takes all possible drive dynamics to an all-new vigour. Those reworked suspension setups are brilliant, giving you an added serving of poise while tackling corners. It works by eliminating excessive body roll and keeping you and the car neatly in line, just like how you’d expect from a hot hatch.