V40 D4 R-Design Pro
you already have a Golf and A3
Sportback on your shortlist you
could be missing something
a Volvo. Because the Swedish
carmakers upscale V40 is definitely
in contention here...
LOOKING DECISIVELY a go-getter in its R-Design attire, the V40 offers buyers
a democratic choice of powerplants: unleaded fans can choose from a minimum
of 120 and a maximum of 241bhp, while those with a thirst for derv get engines
starting at 118bhp and topping out at a meaty 187bhp back-stopped by oodles
Which is what you'd expect from a five-door hatch that's intended to mix it
at the premium end of the hatchback market territory already occupied
by the likes of Audi's A3 Sportback, the BMW 1 Series, Merc's A-Class and Volkswagen's
The V40 is Volvo's smallest car but don't let that put you off because at 4.4-metres
from nose to tail it's a mere two inches longer than an A3 Sportback
although some would say the Swede fields the more rakish look. However, if you
prefer rugged to racy then the Cross Country V40 variants could be right up
your green lane.
by its 'Thor's Hammer' daytime running lights and sleek nose-down-high-stepping-rear-shouldered
stance, the R-Design V40 is undeniably one of the more athletic looking front-runners
in the hatchback pack.
running lights and
stance, the R-Design
V40 is undeniably one of
the more athletic looking
front-runners in the
While all V40 variants are front-engined, front-wheel drivers, under the skin
R-Design models are equipped with a sportier suspension (stiffer spring and
damper rates), a 10mm lower ride height, and roll on 18-inch satin black alloy
wheels wrapped in 225/40 rubber. Finishing off the tail treatment with a flourish
are chrome exhaust tailpipes, one at each corner either side of the rear diffuser,
and an integrated roof spoiler.
It looks like it goes and you won't need to drive far to discover that behind
the 'R' badging there's a well-fettled character. The R-Design steers well,
serving up enough accuracy and turn-in to mesh with the 'dynamic'-grade chassis's
inbuilt agility when pressing on; grip is dependable and body roll well managed
point the V40's nose at a fast bend and it will take you through, staying
flat and composed through to the exit. And when you need to scrub speed, the
brakes are nicely resolute.
Bigger wheels and hard-charging suspension often have a downside when it comes
to ride quality, but the R-Design manages a practical compromise that takes
account of that old truism: 'all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy'.
In the 'R' you can play when you want to, hustling with reassurance, and even
your everyday driving 'work' will be far from dull; firm but fluent without
any jarring, particularly around town where bumps are dealt with sans drama.
Prices start at £20,715 and top-out at £33K, and for that you'd be fully justified
in expecting an upscale cabin. And you won't be disappointed because the V40's
all-black-themed cockpit is underscored by Scandinavian flair.
Volvo cabins have for a long time now offered some of the very best seats around,
and the R-Design Pro's are no exception of a sporty turn, they're well
bolstered and upholstered in smooth quality leather with three-stage heating;
cosseting yet supportive, they offer plenty of adjustment so from behind the
multifunctional three-spoke wheel (with an especially good to grip rim) the
driver is guaranteed not only a spot-on driving position but good visibility
front occupants will also enjoy good shoulder support and, lower down, manually-adjustable
lumbar support. Height-adjustable seatbelts ensure that extra bit of comfort
especially on long journeys.
cabins have for
a long time now offered
some of the very best
seats around, and the
R-Design Pros are no
exception of a sporty
turn, theyre well
upholstered in smooth
quality leather; cosseting
yet supportive, they
offer plenty of adjustment
so from behind the wheel
the driver is guaranteed
a spot-on driving
Keyless locking on all four doors and keyless start gets you in and away as
quickly as possible (something that's much appreciated on a wet and blustery
winter's day). And while ten inches is undeniably useful, actually seven is
all you really need as confirmed by the V40's infotainment screen, inset top
dead centre of the fascia.
The instrument panel dead ahead of the driver is elegant as well as customisable
a TFT single-dial affair it lets the driver select from three themes:
blue-coloured Eco; aqua-tinged Elegance; and red-and-yellow Performance. Each
also shows a different mix of information in a different layout.
For us the best display was Performance (well, we would, wouldn't we!), which
features a main rev-counter with a large digital speed readout at its centre
alongside a road-sign reminder of the posted speed limit, flanked by useful
stuff such as range, etc. Whichever set you choose legibility in any light is
Beneath the infotainment screen sits one of Volvo's trademark 'floating' centre
consoles; well populated with switches, at first glance it looks to be very
'busy' but actually they're surprisingly easy to recall and use. Single-press
buttons will take you directly into major menus for radio, media, my car, navigation,
Equally good news: the climate control system is controlled by knobs rather
than through the infotainment display something many drivers still prefer
as much as they like traditional pull-up handbrakes (the V40 has one of these
too). What's good is that when adjusting the cabin temperature (or seat heating),
icons pop-up in individual windows on the screen so you can keep your eyes high
enough to remain aware of the road ahead while checking the settings.
Build quality is first-rate and the materials are as tasteful as they are tactile
and certainly as pleasing as anything coming out of Germany. Space-wise
the V40 is far more accommodating than its swish external lines would lead you
to expect climb aboard and you'll quickly find that it's a pleasure to
spend time in.
Comms features include Volvo's Sensus Connect that brings voice control, connected
web apps and Internet connection via Bluetooth or WiFi tethering. The SatNav's
3D mapping is crystal clear, enhanced by free-flowing traffic information and
clearly-marked street names, and the spoken turn-by-turn directions timely and
easy to follow.
there's DAB, Bluetooth, radio/CD unit, and a high-performance sound system that
upholds Volvo's well-deserved reputation for first-rate stereos. That noted,
no doubt dyed-in-the-wool audiophiles will gleefully tick the Premium Sound
(£500) options box marked 'Harman Kardon'!
safety and assist systems
such as City Safety (to
prevent you running into
the vehicle ahead) and
(including one for the
drivers knee). And the
just look out
for you and yours,
but strangers too its
fitted with a pedestrian
airbag that pops up from
under the bonnet to
popular add-on is the £450 Volvo On Call a GPS communication system that
helps you stay connected to your car: locate, lock, unlock your car and see
all dashboard readings including the fuel level via your smartphone, along with
emergency assistance at the touch of a button as well as stolen vehicle tracking.
Sitting at the top of the V40 trim tree, R-Design Pro models are equipped with
all the expected 'goodies' including, in addition to those already mentioned,
such things as a rear camera, parking sensors, heated powerfolding door mirrors,
one-shot up/down electric windows, etc.
There are also abundant safety and assist systems such as City Safety to prevent
you running into the vehicle ahead, multiple airbags (including one for the
driver's knee), front seat whiplash protection, dynamic stability and traction
control with torque vectoring, tyre pressure monitoring, auto wipes and lights,
and LED headlights with daytime running lights.
And the V40 doesn't just look out for you and yours, but strangers too
the five-star Euro NCAP V40's is fitted with a pedestrian airbag that pops up
from under the bonnet to minimise pedestrian injuries.
Spend another £1,900 and you can feel super-safe by adding the Intellisafe Pro
pack that provides Collision Warning with full Auto Brake, Pedestrian and Cyclist
Detection, Adaptive Cruise Control, Distance Alert, Lane Keeping Aid, Driver
Alert Control, Active High Beam, Road Sign Information Display, and Blind Spot
Information System with Cross Traffic Alert.
helpful features include a parking ticket holder on the screen pillar, a frameless
auto-dimming rearview mirror (looks über-cool and provides the maximum rearward
views), very efficient cooling and heating (as you'd expect from a car developed
in a country whose land cuts into the Arctic Circle), and plenty of practical
in-cabin storage (bottle-holding door bins, generous cupholders, a lidded cubby
between the front seats along with an adjustable armrest capping a storage box
with comms connections and 12-volt power, and a damped and lockable glovebox).
The rear passenger accommodation consists of 'individual' rear chairs as comfy
and sporty as those fitted up front and which boost views out by being set just
a few inches higher; they're also mounted more inboard than some which creates
more shoulder and elbow room. They're linked by enough of a base cushion to
accommodate a third middle passenger, although two full-grown adults sharing
the well padded drop-down centre armrest is the ideal status quo and
they won't go short on headroom unless they're over six-feet tall.
also a brace of magazine pouches, pop-out cupholders between the outer seats
and, for those who prefer to shun the limelight, privacy glass from the B-pillars
Pro into action is easy
courtesy of a clean-
changing gear shift.
worth stirring under the
upgraded D4 turbodiesel
kicks out 187bhp along
with a muscular 295lb ft
At the tail there's a very serviceable boot that starts out at 335 litres but
load it to the roof and it'll take 402; dropping the 60:40 seatbacks
they fold fully flat creates a seamless 1,032-litre loadbay. The boot
floor is dual-height but can be folded to subdivide the boot handy when
you need to divvy up the shopping or isolate fragile cargo.
Used in its upper setting, the boot floor creates out-of-sight space below for
valuables; at the lowest level you'll find a space-saver spare wheel. Bag-holders
are of course included! Handy too is the forward-folding front passenger seat
that makes carrying very long items very doable. Alternately you can just tow
'stuff' behind the V40 the D4 will haul a braked 1,500kg.
Stirring the R-Design Pro into action is easy courtesy of a clean-changing gear
shift. And there's definitely something worth stirring under the bonnet
Volvo's upgraded turbodiesel engines come in three strengths: the most powerful
is the four-cylinder D4, as tested here, which kicks out 187bhp along with a
muscular 295lb ft of torque.
Despite the recent negative publicity, for many motorists turbodiesels make
the most practical driving partners, serving up a strong-in-any-gear sense of
purpose. The D4 is not just strong, but nicely refined and pleasantly muted
With torque peaking from 1,750rpm, it feels every bit as quick as its 0-62mph
paper time of 7.4 seconds suggests. Motorways are the 143mph D4's second home,
where the feeling is of a strong punch always in reserve, helped by a born-to-cruise
top gear that gobbles up the miles.
While not in the least trying to get the most miles from every gallon, we still
recorded a wallet-friendly 48.7mpg over the course of a week's hard driving.
In regular real-life conditions, more sympathetic drivers than us should expect
to cross the mid-fifties and perhaps even hit 60mpg.
The V40 R-Design Pro's sporty looks mask an agreeably relaxed driving character.
Satisfyingly economical and packed with really useful driver assistance and
advanced safety systems, it's rewarding to own and makes an appealing alternative
to most cars wearing a German badge. ~ MotorBar
Volvo V40 D4 R-Design Pro
Maximum speed: 143mph | 0-62mph: 7.4 seconds | Test Average: 48.7mpg
Power: 187bhp | Torque: 295lb ft | CO2: 99g/km