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Volvo V40 D2 Cross Country SE Nav

Click to view picture gallery“Volvo’s handsome midsize family-
  friendly five-door hatchback, the
  upmarket V40, now comes in a Heinz-
  beating 58 varieties! The most recent
  variant is the rugged-looking Cross
  Country — not to be confused with
  Volvo’s XC AWD range...

WHY? BECAUSE UNLIKE the XC range, the Cross Country V40 (apart from the range-topping four-wheel drive version) gets its power down on the road through the front pair of wheels. This, actually, is what most buyers want today: stylish soft-roader looks without the hardcore 4x4 mechanicals.

If you really must have a four-wheel drive V40 then there's just a single model the £33,875 top-of-the-range T5, powered by a potent 250bhp 2.5-litre petrol engine that will rush you to 62mph in 6.4 seconds.

However, most Volvo V40 customers are perfectly happy with the less tearaway and less pricey V40s, and will be more interested in the emissions and economy figures. In which case the other 57 two-wheel drive diesel V40s will definitely be on their shopping lists.

“The D2 comes
with some very appealing
figures: 99g/km CO2
emissions and
an average official fuel
consumption of 74.3mpg.
A week and 500 miles
later, our hard-driven
V40’s trip computer was
showing an average
of 53.7mpg.
The D2 we recently tested comes with some very appealing running cost figures: 99g/km CO2 emissions and an average official fuel consumption of 74.3mpg (urban: 67.3; extra-urban 80.7mpg). A week and 500 miles later, our hard-driven V40's trip computer was showing an average of 53.7mpg.

As usual we don't mollycoddle our test cars and switch off the fuel-maximising stop-start because we want to determine the worst real-world consumption most everyday drivers should do considerably better.

Where the Cross Country does score is with its chunkier looks. Volvo have capitalized on the popular 'crossover' trend, almost all of which (even the 4WD versions) are bought not so much for their go-anywhere abilities but because they have 'the look'. Nothing wrong in that just about every car bought in the world is chosen primarily for its looks.

And there's no denying that the V40 Cross Country has, image-wise, got it right. Bold, sporty styling and, for that sought-after 'jacked 'n' stacked' look, it rides on a raised suspension that puts it 40mm up on a stock V40. Adding to the tougher look are rugged side sills with heavy-duty protectors plus protective 'skid' plates front and rear (all finished in matte-silver) and black bumpers (standard V40s come with them body-coloured). On top there are silver-finish roof rails and, at the sharp end, a deeper honeycomb-pattern black grille framed by vertical LED daytime running lights.

So while the Cross Country is essentially a superior trim level (much like the smart R-Design that's also available on the V40), it's not all show because the reworked suspension (altered damping rates and meatier anti-roll bars) copes with our neglected British roads in an easy-going way. The Cross Country is a relaxing car to travel in riding around town it's particularly civilised. You may not be able to take your V40 Cross Country into the rough but when it comes to ride comfort you most definitely will not be roughing it.

Not only that, but there's no penalty for the raised ride height in the handling department road manners are as reassuring and polite as in the regular versions; turn-in is crisp with well-managed body control, the steering feels fine slow and fast and, helped by decent grip, speed can be carried satisfyingly through bends. Brakes are all you'd expect from a car-maker majoring on (and renowned internationally for) safety: well-sorted, strong and smoothly progressive.

“Unlike the mandatory
twice-a-week cross
country of my childhood,
runs in the Cross Country
from Volvo
are something to look
forward to — overall an
enjoyable drive.
Unlike the mandatory twice-a-week cross country of my childhood, runs in the Cross Country from Volvo are something to look forward to overall it's an enjoyable drive. And the ride is good too, the V40 staying composed over most road surfaces.

Inside the Cross Country you sit taller in the saddle. And what great saddles they are: accommodating, supportive and sporty-looking with good bolstering, and finished in a mix of smart denim-like fabric and black leather; certainly deserving of a mention in despatches. The V40's decor could only be Scandinavian attractive, elegant, and giving off good vibes. As appealing, in fact, as anything on offer from the German brands.

Beneath the crisp infotainment screen, the orderly cluster of buttons at the heart of the centre stack are easy to remember, while the four main rotary knobs also located there control all the important, often used stuff such as climate control and infotainment many of the functions can be managed either using the knobs or the remote buttons on the steering wheel.

Once you've driven the V40 for a day or two you'll begin to appreciate some of the many thoughtful touches; for instance, you can adjust the temperature by feel without looking down at the knobs because as you turn them the new temperature is displayed on the main screen and needs only a fleeting sideways glance to take it in much safer than looking down. And the SatNav speaks clearly; its directions spoken in good time for upcoming turns.

The crystal clear digital instrument display is brilliant, and you can choose from three 'themes' Eco, Elegance, or Performance, each showing information related to their names. We used the red-coloured Performance display all of the time because it gives a large digital speed readout that's so much easier than looking at a traditional speedo.

Also displayed, in other sectors, are the average and instant fuel consumption as well as range-to-empty. You also get a road sign icon showing you the posted speed limit for the road you're currently driving on. All clever stuff. And you can change to another set of driver information while on the move in a second using buttons on the indicator stalk.

“The crystal clear digital
instrument display
is brilliant and you can
choose from three
‘themes’ — Elegance,
Eco, or Performance.
We used the Performance
display because it gives
a large digital speed
readout that’s so much
easier than looking at a
traditional speedo.
Plus you can customise a whole range of things, from whether you want one-touch-three-flash indicators to the door mirrors dipping when reverse gear is selected to setting a different function in every main menu (navigation, radio, CD, etc.) for the 'favourite' button on the wheel.

The three-stage seat heating is nicely warming something else enjoyed by both front seat occupants. Dual-zone climate control ensures you have all the hot or cold air you desire, directed through four fascia vents to exactly where you want it. Both front seats are height adjustable with manual lumbar support and there are height adjustable seatbelts. And everyone gets a one-shot powered window.

The driver is further pampered by generous height and reach adjustment of the meaty-rimmed and leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, and 8-way power operation of the seat along with a three-setting seat-and-mirror memory recall. A traditional handbrake along with keyless entry and start keep things simple you can, should you prefer, slot the electronic key into the dock beneath the Start button; most will prefer to leave it in their purse or pocket. Either way works fine.

Visibility is also good from the driving seat: the powerfold door mirrors are fit-for-purpose, and the rear headrests drop down when not required. However, the coupe-style rear corners allied to a shallow rear screen mean you'll be glad of the reversing sensors when moving backwards; going forwards the visibility is A1 to the front and sides, making placing the Cross Country on the road straightforward.

At 4.3 meters long the V40 can easily serve as the family's sole set of wheels. With the big, wide and comfy rear centre armrest down there's ample space for two adults to sprawl or, with it folded away, to transport three teenagers with a sound system that will keep both age groups suitably entertained. Although the glasshouse's rising window line gives the impression of shrinking headroom the further back you go in the V40, there's actually decent headroom with only taller rear seat passengers at risk of brushing the roof-lining with their hair. From the inside looking out, it's a luxuriantly cosy place to be.

The hatchback-cum-estate tail houses a regular, box-shaped boot of 335 litres. Fold the rear seatbacks (they fold almost flat) and this triples to 1,032 litres. While the tailgate aperture is of a good size, you might struggle fitting in larger white goods but flatpacks and the like present no problems. A space-saver spare lives beneath the boot floor.

“Power is provided by
a 1.6-litre turbodiesel that
kicks out 113bhp and,
more importantly, 199lb ft
of torque between 1,750
and 2,500rpm — enough
to keep the engine
pulling heartily without
you having to crack
the whip.
Talking of storage space… the cabin is well stocked with multi-usage solutions ranging from handy soft pouches along the leading edge of the front seat bases to dual-purpose cup-holders-cum-trays and a large glovebox (that's also cooled).

It's a Volvo so you can bet your shirt it's safe. And it is, thanks to a Lane Keeping Aid, City Safety and Collision Warning with Auto Brake and Pedestrian Detection, Driver Alert Control (prevents you nodding off!), and Adaptive Cruise Control.

There's also a full complement of airbags including one for the driver's knee and curtain airbags front and rear, anti-whiplash front headrests, dynamic stability traction control, blind spot warning, Road Sign Information, active bending lights, Park Assist, and even a pedestrian airbag (a World first) that's triggered on impacts between 12 and 31mph.

Power is provided by a 1.6-litre turbodiesel that kicks out 113bhp and, more importantly, 199lb ft of torque between 1,750 and 2,500rpm enough to keep the engine pulling heartily without you having to crack the whip. Performance is usable and making the most of it is no hardship courtesy of the precise, smooth-shifting six-speed manual gearbox.

For the record, keep accelerating and changing up and from standstill the D2 will get you to 62mph in 11.9 seconds. Top speed is a perfectly adequate 115mph that ensures cruising British motorways around 70mph is a refined and stress-free business.

Serving the family well and with style is what the V40 has been designed to do, and without overlooking the fact that the driver needs his or her fix of satisfaction too. The smart-looking Cross Country has all the necessary ingredients that together meet family or active lifestyle requirements. A car you can safely put your trust in. — MotorBar

Volvo V40 D2 Cross Country SE Nav | £23,795
Maximum speed: 115mph | 0-62mph: 11.9 seconds | Overall Test MPG: 53.7mpg
Power: 113bhp | Torque: 199lb ft | CO2 99g/km