Essentially a software tweak that overwrites the car’s Dynamic driving mode, it ups the amount of torque sent to the rear wheels to create a sportier, rear-driven feel. Throttle response is also sharpened and the 8-speed automatic gearbox allowed to hold onto its cogs for longer before upshifting.
The £745 option can be fitted by a dealer post-purchase, and retains the car’s original warranty. It was fitted to our test car along with the improved Intellisafe Pro pack, which adds steering assistance to its blind spot detection system for the first time, letting the car swerve if it drifts into the path of a potential collision.
All in, options boost the price some £4000 to £42,880, which is knocking on the door of a sensibly-specced Range Rover Evoque P250 and the Audi Q3, though only the Range Rover can claim styling anywhere near as distinctive as the Volvo’s Scandinavian influenced looks.
What's it like?
As refined and relaxing to drive as any other XC40 in its standard Comfort drive mode, even on the 20in wheels and stiffened suspension that come fitted to R-Design models as standard. Polestar’s optimisations only appear when shifting into Dynamic, now renamed Polestar mode, or disengaging the electronic stability controls completely.
Once you do, the more rear-biased power distribution can be felt right away. Turn-in feels tauter and the car feels pushed rather than pulled through corners. You can even tease out some oversteer with relatively little effort, although while in Polestar mode traction control still kicks in a little sooner than you’d expect. Steering remains light throughout, lacking the feeling of a precise connection to the front wheels, though it does weight up with pace.
The throttle reacts much faster to your foot here, with a greater sense of mid-range urgency helping the car feel more responsive when overtaking. In its most powerful configuration the 2.0-litre is suitably swift, with the kind of straightline pace that could bother some hot hatchbacks, although it doesn’t sound particularly engaging at high revs. Peak torque is long gone before you hit the 6500rpm redline.
Although manual gear changes are slightly faster in this mode, the eight-speed automatic can still feel reluctant to react to each pull of the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Better to leave the car to it for the most part, only upshifting when you no longer need to maintain the higher end of the rev range.
Beyond the renamed entry on the drive mode selection screen, there's no other visual evidence of Polestar engineering - but seeing how the XC40 has one of the best interiors in its class, that's no bad thing. It remains airy and sophisticated, with the 9.0in, portrait-oriented Sensus touchscreen dominating the centre of the dash. It contains the majority of the climate controls as well as all the infotainment, but does a better job of ditching physical buttons than most rivals.