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Volvo V40 D2 SE Nav

Click to view picture gallery“Safe as houses. Thats how todays
  air-bagged and safety system-
  cocooned drivers feel. And probably
  nowhere more so than when sitting
  behind the wheel of a Volvo.
  Fortunately these days, safety no
  longer means
boxy as the
  sharply-styled V40 proves...”


MOST OF US HAVE EXPERIENCED that heart-stopping moment when another driver has shot out right under your nose from a side-turning, launched across your right-of-way on a rush-hour roundabout or even reversed Bullet-style out of a drive into your path, so spare a thought for those not protected by crumple zones and sculpted metal armour pedestrians, cyclists and motorbike riders.

Nowadays, if you drive a Volvo, colliding with any of the above should be less traumatic for all involved. Take the V40 we've just tested it comes fitted with an underbonnet pedestrian airbag (a World first) that, on impacts between 12 and 31mph, inflates to cover the unforgiving areas under the bonnet and across the windscreen and screen pillars to protect pedestrians and riders who might end up there.

“Safety aside, there are
other more visible
reasons to buy a five-
door V40 family hatch;
not least that it’s seen as
an upmarket rival to the
likes of Alfa’s Giulietta,
Audi’s A3, BMW's 1
Series and even the
Mercedes A-Class...
And that's not all; the V40 bristles with an array of active safety systems, the most important given the amount of costly minor crashes that occur every day probably being the City Safety low-speed collision avoidance system that's fitted as standard equipment and which can detect an obstacle ahead in the line of fire and will then, if the driver fails to react quickly enough, stop the car automatically if a low-speed collision is imminent. City Safety is also good for your pocket because it has the added benefit of contributing to lower insurance premiums.

All that's in addition to a full complement of seven airbags and a five-star Euro NCAP crash test score not just any five-stars, but one with a near-perfect 98% score for adult occupant protection.

If you need to feel even safer still, you can tick the box for the Driver Support Pack this includes a full-speed collision warning and crash avoidance system along with driver alertness monitoring, pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, blind-spot alerts, adaptive cruise control and road sign information. Also worthwhile is a reversing camera and Cross Traffic Alert, which uses radar to detect traffic crossing behind when reversing.

Safety aside, there are other more visible reasons to buy a five-door V40 family hatch; not least that it's seen as an upmarket rival to the likes of Alfa's Giulietta, Audi's A3, BMW's 1 Series and even Mercedes-Benz's A-Class.

With it's low thrusting nose, high tail and sporty profile, the V40 is a handsome looker from every angle. Bold, straight-cut wheel arches create a hunkered-down look emphasised by the rising waistline that sweeps up over the rear haunches, and the stand-out boomerang-shaped tail lights that flank the black glass tailgate.

Another sound reason for going V40 is its über-frugal 1.6 turbodiesel D2 engine. Super-clean (it emits just 88g/km of CO2), it officially averages 74.3mpg (touring 91.1 and town 83.1mpg). Driven reasonably hard during our full week's test, 'our' car managed a commendable 53.5mpg overall. Okay, so that's short of the claimed figure but given how well it drives that's nevertheless a perfectly worthwhile real-life result that will please many owners who won't ever be forking out any cash for road tax and who will also get free entry into London's Congestion Charge zone anytime they fancy visiting the capital.

“Another sound reason
for going V40
is its über-frugal 1.6
turbodiesel D2 engine.
Super-clean (it emits just
88g/km of CO2),
it officially averages
74.3mpg (touring 91.1
and town 83.1mpg).
Driven reasonably hard
during our full week’s
test, our car managed a
commendable 53.5mpg
overall...
You'd be forgiven for thinking that those headline mpg figures might be down to a trade-off with performance. Don't worry, performance has not been sacrificed on the altar of politically-correct miles-per-gallon results. The 1.6-litre four-pot D2 is a torquey little number with 199lb ft on call from fairly low down, so you don't need to work it hard to make meaningful progress. Hitting the benchmark 0-62mph takes 11.9 seconds and the 1,560cc powerplant will run the V40 right up to a perfectly civilised 118mph.

Well stacked gear ratios keep the D2 nice and quiet when cruising at the legal limit on the motorway. And even in the argy-bargy of town driving the torquey 1.6-litre keeps it all relaxed; the fuel-maximising auto stop-start works smoothly and, unlike many, you don't feel the need to switch it off. Overall, it's an agreeable four-pot; clean-revving and perfectly fine for all motoring scenarios. And most people would never guess it's a diesel from inside the cabin.

Going Volvo has yet another advantage Scandi-style. The V40's understated, bling-free cabin is immediately welcoming (and immediately 'Swedish'). The quality and the fit and finish do justice to the elegant mix of fabric and leather trim materials, all made better by the invigorating colourways that you'll be hard pressed to find elsewhere. If you've previously been sitting in an Audi or BMW you certainly won't feel you've traded down.

The front seats are kingly: 'big-car' luxurious, well padded and agreeably supportive in all the right places. These are chairs that will keep you comfy and relaxed during a long a very long day's driving. Three-stage heating is the icing on the cake. And even with the optional full-length fixed glass panoramic roof (including a powered sunblind), there's still a fist of headroom.

Physically, accommodation in the airy cabin is first rate and makes the V40 perfect for a variety of daily uses, from commuting to the school run. From behind the wheel visibility is excellent, so placing the V40 in the cut and thrust of traffic is a doddle. That alone is a big stress-buster.

Essential driver information is equally clear in fact the digital Active TFT instruments are superbly sharp both day and night. And they offer the choice (just click the end of the indicator stalk) of three themes, each offering different information sets relevant to the driving modes: Performance (the virtual speedometer becomes a red-shaded rev-counter with a digital speed display alongside a power-use meter); Elegance (the 'normal' setting); or Eco with economy-dedicated displays. All smart, logical and great to look at.

“The SE Nav model
comes well kitted out
with all the default
luxuries including
SatNav and road sign
speed limit recognition
(displays the posted
speed limits), so owners
really won’t want for
anything or need to
spend any more
money...
Practical storage solutions include a large cooled, two-tier, rubber-lined glovebox, usable door bins, a handy out-of-sight storage area behind the 'floating' centre stack, and unexpectedly useful soft pouches along the front of both front seats.

More hands-on pleasure comes from the multifunction (voice, audio, speed limiter, cruise) leather-bound steering wheel, which feels good in your hands. And the foolproof SatNav will get you to your destination first time, every time, plus there's efficient hot and cold air on demand from the climate control which benefits from a quiet blower! And there's a trad handbrake still the number one choice for the majority of motorists.

The SE Nav model comes well kitted out with all the default luxuries including SatNav and road sign speed limit recognition (displays the posted speed limits), so owners really won't want for anything or need to spend any more money.

That said, our test car was fitted with some 'must have' extras such as the panoramic glass roof (£1,000), Park Assist Pilot that checks out an available space before steering in the car for you (£850), keyless entry and locking with engine Stop-Start button (£550), 17-inch alloys (a £550 upgrade), flexible load floor (£100), and Active TFT display (£300).

While there's not as much headroom in the back as there is in the front (although an average adult can sit easily behind another of the same), there is another advantage the outer pair of rear seats are mounted further in towards the middle of the cabin than normal, thus providing more shoulder and elbow room as well as a better view forward past the front seats.

And, of course, the rear seats are as inviting and comfy to sit in, with satisfactory room for legs and feet. Use the wide, padded central armrest (supplemented by nicely-angled outer door-mounted armrests) and adults will find it easy to chill out in the back in their 'own' space.

It's a hatchback, so the 335-litre boot space is versatile. There's a dual height boot which can magic up an extra four inches of height or keep it level with the boot opening. Whichever, loading is hassle-free through the high-opening tailgate. The 60:40 split rear seats fold down to form a seamlessly flat loadbay that will take 1,032 litres of luggage or cargo easily enough to transport, as we did, bulky household items during a house move.

“Key question:
Are the V40’s sporty
looks borne out by its
handling?
Assuredly — ‘sporty’
has most definitely
replaced ‘boxy’ for the
suave Swedes...
Key question: Are the V40's sporty looks borne out by its handling? Assuredly 'sporty' has most definitely replaced 'boxy' for the suave Swedes. Power is put down through the front wheels, and the V40's an accomplished and confidence-inspiring mover aided by good body control and decent feel and directness from the electrically-assisted helm (the steering, incidentally, can be set at any of three driver-preferred weightings).

With 113bhp it's no trackday tearaway (nor, as a five-door family hatch, does it need or want to be) but there's definitely more than enough grip and ability to press on along twisty secondaries. The six-speeder's shift action is satisfyingly quick 'n' slick. And when you need them, the brakes are strong with a progressive pedal feel and deliver speed-killing ability.

When aboard, the family's prime experience will be of the V40's 'feminine' side it's fluent ride quality; bumps are ridden over with palpable good manners and, for the most part, the UK's deteriorating roads pass by under the 205/50 17-inch alloy wheels unnoticed.

Drivers will find the economical D2 engine a well-judged compromise between economy and performance. They'll also enjoy more than a touch literally of luxury in the cabin. The V40 also has one of the most inviting and soothing interiors you'll find in any five-door hatch. Better still, the D2 is nice to drive and just as nice to travel in, all the while watched over by a host of electronic 'guardians'.
MotorBar

Volvo V40 D2 SE Nav | £23,320
Maximum speed: 118mph | 0-62mph: 11.9 seconds | Test Average: 53.5mpg
Power: 113bhp | Torque: 199lb ft | CO2 88g/km