V40 T4 R-Design Lux
about the end of the world?
more likely to die in
a road traffic accident. So instead of
using your lifes
savings to build a
nuclear bunker at the bottom of your
garden, spend the money instead on
a Volvo V40...
WHY A VOLVO V40? Well, judged by its Euro NCAP score, it's the safest car you
can buy at any price. And it's a damn sight more fun than living
underground for twenty years until it's safe maybe!
to come out again.
Replacing the S40 saloon and V50 estate ranges in one determined stroke, the
'compact premium' V40's true mission is to headhunt customers who are in the
market for a similarly sized Audi (A3 Sportback), BMW (1 Series), Mercedes or
even VW (Golf).
The sleek, hunkered-down look hides the fact that the five-door hatchback V40
occupies a tad more road space than both the 1 Series and A3 Sportback. It helps
a dash of coupe incorporated in the V40's design, accentuated by the steeply-rising
waistline as it heads south on its way past narrowing side windows to the distinctive
boomerang-shaped tail lights.
without being in your face; that's the V40. But does that make it the smartest
Volvo to come out of Gothenburg? Many think so and our bright blue test
car certainly drew plenty of admiring looks and 'thumbs up' from other drivers.
Tasty without being
in your face. Is the V40
the smartest Volvo
to come out of
Many think so and
our bright blue test car
certainly drew plenty
of admiring looks
and thumbs up from
Of course, it helps if you're driving one of the the R-Design models. Finished
in a vivid blue paint (Rebel Blue) its got more than a touch of attitude: thrusting
nose treatment at the front; two large protruding tailpipes (one at each corner)
at the rear; and, in between, matt black diamond-cut five-arm 18-inch alloy
Much like Audi's S line trim, R-Design doesn't, of itself, make the V40 any
faster. But you can, for a few pounds more, specify a sports suspension with
a lowered ride height (by 10mm). Do so and you'll get even less cornering body
lean and, surprisingly, even rolling on 18-inch rims, the ride comfort is not
compromised clearly the V40 is a family car that's got its priorities
Slip inside and its unmistakably Volvo great seats (big, well bolstered
and leather-upholstered and enhanced by black suede centre panels and branded
'R-Design') and oodles of Swedish character. This a Volvo so, naturally, you'll
find one of their trademark slimline 'floating' centre stacks. The cabin looks
and, crucially, feels upmarket.
Five doors doesn't automatically guarantee maximum comfort for four adults
but in the V40 it does. And if you're used to Audi and BMW quality, you won't
be disappointed when you sit in the V40's airy and minimalist cabin, tastefully
trimmed with satin-chrome detailing.
Modish touches include a 'glowing' gear knob cleverly lit by a dedicated overhead
LED, and the frameless rear-view mirror that could have been designed by Apple.
In addition to the expected navigation and multimedia features, you can run
an app which lets your communicate with your V40 via your mobile to, for instance,
show you on a map precisely where you parked your car, then lead you to it (just
follow the arrow!). It also allows you to do a bunch of other nifty stuff, like
remotely lock or unlock it, or find out how much fuel's left in the tank! It
will even alert you if your car's about to be stolen…
The V40's excellent liquid crystal digital instrument set mimics a traditional
analogue set-up but can, at the click on the left-hand column stalk, be displayed
in any one of three 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-aiding displays. Oh, and the legibility
of all the cool graphics is first rate, even on bright sunshiney days.
smart (and safe) touch for the speedo is that your current speed is highlighted
to make it easier to check in the briefest of glances away from the road when
you're driving for example, when you're travelling at, say, 60mph, the
50-70mph sector will be noticeably brighter than the rest of the markings, playing
on your eyes' natural instinct to go to the clearest spot. Another great feature
is the road sign speed limit recognition that displays the posted speed limits.
shapely R-Design multifunction (voice, audio, speed limiter, cruise) leather-bound
steering wheel, like the nicely contoured gear knob, feels good in your hands.
As you physically relax back into the supportive chair you'll also appreciate
the good all-round visibility although you do need the standard-fit rear
An app lets you
communicate with your
V40 via your mobile
and shows you on a map
precisely where you
parked your car, then
leads you to it (just follow
It also tells you loads
of stuff such as
how much fuels left in
the tank, and will even
alert you if somebody
is trying to steal
Making life as pleasant as possible is a well specced equipment list that, along
with practical storage solutions (the large cooled, two-tier, rubber-lined glovebox,
useful soft pouches along the front of both front seats, etc) includes four
one-shot auto up/down electric windows, 8-way powered driver's chair with lumbar
adjustment, intelligent radar cruise control, very efficient climate control,
3-stage heated front seats, power adjustable and powerfold (on demand as well
as automatically on lockin'-and-leavin') door mirrors, 3-setting driver's seat
& mirrors memory, panoramic glass roof, keyless start and exit/entry, an ally
pedal set and alloy wheels.
Packed to the gunnels with safety kit, the V40 is, officially, the safest vehicle
ever tested by Euro NCAP. It also comes with a pro-active crash avoidance system
and a pedestrian airbag and cushioned bonnet and that's in addition to
its full-house of driver and passenger airbags, whiplash protection and pre-crash
You can also have self parking, automatic headlamp dipping, a higher-speed collision
warning with full auto braking (in case the driver fails to respond)
the standard City Safety feature is good for speeds up to 31mph. Also available
are electronic 'guardians' covering blindspot monitoring, lane departure warning,
pedestrian detection, and even driver alertness.
Hatchback it may be, but the V40 offers ample practicality whether you're a
premium-loving single or a family. For a start the rear passenger compartment
is as welcoming and as commendably comfortable as the front, with excellent
views out for both outer rear passengers.
Along with satisfactory space for elbows and shoulders, there's also satisfactory
room for knees, legs and feet. Give up the wide, padded central armrest and
a fifth can join the party preferably a youngster although an adult can
be accommodated. Statistically, few modern cars carry more than a driver and
single passenger; even less carry four, so the fifth rarely gets used anyway.
boot is a usable 335 litres, with a narrower opening than you might expect from
a Volvo that noted, it certainly didn't cramp some house-moving runs
we needed to make. More good news: the 60:40 split rear seatbacks fold down
virtually flat to create a practical 1,032-litre loadbay.
extra versatility is a two-level boot floor if you're planning on doing
some regular load carrying you might want to tick the options box for a luggage
rail system to keep everything in its rightful place. The lightweight rear parcel
shelf-cum luggage cover is easy to remove and stow. Glad, too, to see a real
spare wheel (okay, so it's a space saver) that covers you for all tyre damage
can be anything from a four-pot petrol to a five-cylinder diesel. The 1.6-litre
T4 under the bonnet of our test car pumped out 177bhp, backed up by 177lb ft
of torque on call from 1,600 to 5,000rpm. It's smooth and agreeably audible,
even when you hoof it; and has more than enough poke through the gears to shift
the V40's 1,390kg. Fifth and sixth are particularly flexible with meaningful
pick-up on the motorway.
The 1.6-litre T4 under
the bonnet of our test car
pumped out 177bhp
backed up by
177lb ft of torque.
And it will take you all
the way to 140mph,
despatching the 0-62mph
sprint in 7.7 seconds...
It will also take you all the way to 140mph, despatching the 0-62mph sprint
in 7.7 seconds. Drive sanely (the legal 70mph calls for a quiet and refined
2,100rpm in 6th gear) and you'll have no trouble bettering our week's average
of 40.6mpg. Officially the combined figure is 51.4mpg but then we weren't exactly
dawdling blame the T4's willingness to play…
The V40's an undeniably competent machine, one that's more than a willing partner
whenever you have a need to press on. Helpfully, the six-speed manual 'box is
an easy-changer (with block changes not a problem) and the electric power steering
plays along fluently. Turn-in is good and the helm's accurate for quick progress
around the lanes in the country. The driver can, incidentally, set the steering
weighting (three levels) to suit.
This new premium Volvo manages a satisfying blend of handling and refined ride
comfort that's perfect for most drivers and the UK's deteriorating roads. The
front-wheel drive V40's ride is both supple and confidence-inspiringly grippy,
as well as balanced at a fast lick: a well-tempered balance that serves up a
very enjoyable drive.
Braking is equally impressive smoothly progressive with superb speed-shedding
bite. For the record, we were forced to execute an emergency stop at 60mph and
the car behaved impeccably, coming to a stop with not the slightest hint of
drama. Drivers specifying the Sport suspension, with its stiffer springs and
dampers, will be pleasantly surprised to find that the firmer set-up doesn't
harm the comfortable ride.
Now the V40's arrived you don't have to follow the herd and drive a sporty family
hatch made in Germany. The V40 is stylish and refined, and you no longer need
to be one of the Volvo 'faithful' for this new V40 to push your buttons. Specced
with plenty of classy touches, it's nice to drive and just as nice to travel
in. Prepare to be impressed.
Volvo V40 T4 R-Design
Lux | £27,380
Top speed: 140mph | 0-62mph: 7.7 seconds | Average test MPG: 40.6mpg
Power: 177bhp | Torque: 177lb ft | CO2 129g/km