Volvo V40: car review

Posted on November 21st, 2012 by James Luckhurst

A welcome addition to the posh hatchback market but the D4 is the least desirable in the range.

Volvo V40: car review

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What’s it like?
The Volvo V40 is an up-market five-door hatchback. Stylish and well built, it’s a good alternative to the popular BMW 1-Series and Audi A3.

Would it help me stay safe?
It’s a Volvo so safety comes first. This model sees the addition of the world’s first external pedestrian airbag. It also received a record-breaking safety rating in its Euro NCAP test.

Who should buy it and how much does it cost?
If you are looking for an alternative to the aforementioned A3 or 1-Series and cost isn’t too much of an issue (our test model was £27,080), then it’s worth a look but not in the D4 spec tested.


Our review: Good Motoring, Winter 2012

DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
Volvo V40: car review

The D4 is the most powerful of the diesel-engined V40 models and you can feel it immediately. The 2.0-litre five-cylinder turbo gets you to 60mph in 7.9 seconds while offering a combined mpg of 54.3. It’s quick, it’s smooth, it’s sporty but in reality we only managed around 42mpg over 500 miles on varied roads. Compare this to an estimated 78.5 in the D2 1.6-litre diesel and it makes the D4 a lot less desirable.

That aside, the ride is perhaps a little harder than you would expect but this makes sense when paired with the 2.0 engine in the D4 and the smooth and fast-shifting Geartronic gearbox. What this means is that on one hand day-to-day driving is a very relaxing (even with the hard ride) and a non-fussy experience but on the other, the power and grip are always there should you need them. This provides some fun but in a reserved Volvo-like way.

The V40 definitely looks the business. As well as performing well, it is by far the best-looking Volvo at the moment, with Volvo thinking back to the P1800 when they designed it. A look of work clearly went into the design of the car and it has real presence. At the front, the A pillars flow into the classic Volvo V shaped bonnet and continue down to the grill. This gives it a wide and low look at the front end. The wide good looks continue to the rear with P1800 influenced rear hexagonal glass, piano black finish and distinctive Volvo rear lights. Apparently part of the original design brief was to make it stand out from the crowd and they have achieved this. It is also the first Volvo to use their new human-centric ‘Designed Around You’ strategy.

SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
Volvo V40: car review

Inside is classic Volvo too; the driver being the centre of attention with all controls build to a (somewhat) logical order, providing maximum easy-of-use so you can focus on driving. This is a posh hatchback and it feels like it too. Soft leather, expensive materials and an elegant design greet you, while ergonomics are second to none. Interior space is cleverly used, providing lots of welcome storage areas and cup holders for all occupants.

However, while the driver and passenger have a plush and roomy cabin to enjoy, this doesn’t extend to the rear passengers and anyone over six feet will feel shoehorned in. Those in the back seats do get the best views the optional panoramic glass sunroof (at a cost of £1,000) though.

If you fold the back seats down you get 1,032 litres of boot space and 335 litres with them up. Good but still less than the A3 (365 litres) and the 1 Series (360 litres).

SAFETY
Volvo V40: car review

Volvo is synonymous with safety and the V40 is leading the way for its rivals to follow. Included as standard is City Safety that senses potential collisions (active from 2 to 31 mph) and can activate the brakes should a driver not react in time. Also fitted as standard is the Pedestrian Airbag. If a pedestrian collision is detected, it releases the bonnet hinges and inflates an exterior airbag to help shield the pedestrian from the engine compartment, lower windscreen and A-pillar.

The plethora of other standard safety equipment includes SIPS (Side Impact Passenger System) and WHIPS (Whiplash Protection System).

EQUIPMENT
Volvo V40: car review

The D4 SE we tested is packed with useful and useable equipment with a very good sounding high performance audio system that comes with a 5” colour screen, Bluetooth, and MP3 connectivity. You also get Volvo’s Information Centre, keyless start, cruise control and climate control coming as standard. The test model we had was fitted with a self-parallel parking assistant – Park Assist Pilot (priced at £850). It worked flawlessly in our tests.

COSTS
Volvo V40: car review

The V40 D4 we tested was pricey at £27,080. It is however a very good car that is even better in the base D2 trim. CO2 emissions for the D4 2.0 litre diesel are 136 g/km putting it into VED Band E (compared with CO2 of 94 g/km and VED band A for the D2). Options, value packs and accessories can easily put the price up of course. Also included in the price is a 3-year/60,000 warranty. Definitely useful because even with Volvo’s reliability, parts and servicing can get expensive.

WE SAY
The V40 is a welcome addition to the posh hatchback market but the D4 is the least desirable in the range.

AT A GLANCE:
Price: £27,080
Performance: 0-60 in 7.9 seconds
Economy: 54.3 mpg Combined
Insurance: 29
Tax: Band E (£120)
Figures for the D4 model