Scandinavian Bacon: The Volvo V40 Road Test
What’s the lowdown with the Volvo V40?
Volvo aimed to give the compact V40 big-car style, and the looks this car gets on the street suggests they succeeded. From the low, wide nose along the sculptured flanks to the abbreviated rear overhang, is Volvo V40 is undeniably a looker.
The Volvo V40 great inside, too. Our test car’s mostly black cabin was given an extra air of sophistication with bright metal highlights and brushed-finish centre console. Some might find the front seats a shade narrow, but there’s no shortage of head or leg room in the front or the rear of the cabin.
The driver is provided with a clever electronic instrument panel which adapts its display to the task in hand, whether that’s tuning the radio, following navigation instructions, setting the cruise control or just driving down the road. It even tells you how much power the engine is capable of producing at the current engine speed, and how much of that power you’re using – which is not particularly useful, but it is fascinating if you’re a car geek.
The engine producing that power can be one of seven different units. There are three diesels – a 1.6-litre four-cylinder and two 2.0-litre five-cylinder units – which are labeled D2, D3 and D4 and offer power outputs from 115PS to 177PS. Volvo also offers four turbo petrol engines ranging from a 120PS four-cylinder (T2) to a 2.5-litre, 254PS five-cylinder (T5).
They’re all smooth, flexible units and the D4 177PS five-cylinder diesel in our test car is a terrific all-rounder. In everyday use most drivers should see 40mpg or more, and there’s brisk, fuss-free straight-line performance accompanied by a characteristic five-cylinder growl.
At motorway speeds the engine quietens to a distant hum, and the V40 eats up the miles with only a rumble from the 18-inch tyres over some surfaces to spoil the refinement. On more challenging roads the Volvo V40 feels fluid and precise, though the inconsistent weighting of the steering tends to mask any useful feedback from the driven front wheels.
The middleweight hatchback class is where the best of the mainstream car makers meets the entry level cars from the premium brands, so there’s no shortage of choice. With its individual styling, impressive road manners and flexible engines refinement Volvo’s V40 has what it takes to make it a serious competitor.