What is it?
Volvo’s smallest SUV, now updated for 2019 with a selection of extra standard equipment and improved safety kit.
The XC40 is comfortably the Swedish brand’s second most popular model, with more than 32,000 cars finding homes worldwide in the first half of 2019. It is second only to the larger Volvo XC60, and us Brits can’t get enough of them.
It may be no stranger to these pages, but this particular model carries two badges that single it out as something less familiar. The first, T5, signifies the presence of the most potent petrol engine currently in the line-up: a turbo four-pot developing 247bhp and 258lb ft of torque, which is enough to propel the near-1650kg SUV to 62mph in 6.5 seconds.
It’s the second, Polestar Engineered, that requires greater explanation. Unlike past Volvos, which received Polestar performance versions, the sub-brand now exists as its own entity and is focused more on bespoke EVs, as well as the hybrid super-coupé Polestar 1.
But that’s not to say Polestar’s development team are so busy they can’t turn their hands to making Volvo’s mainstream products a little more exciting. Enter Polestar Engineered Optimisation, an optional upgrade available for all-wheel-drive versions of the XC40, as well as the Volvo S60 and Volvo S90 saloons and Volvo V60 and Volvo V90 estates.
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.