Volvo V40 D4 – Review
By Liam Bird
In a world where there seems to be a Golf or a Focus parked on every street corner, it’s sometimes hard to think of an alternative family-orientated hatchback that’s capable of offering the same levels of style and near-bulletproof build quality. Or is it? Step forward the Volvo V40 D4.
Let’s face it, Volvos have always been built like brick outhouses. They were a hit with the middle classes long before Golfs (the car, not the game) ever was – just think of Tom and Margot from The Good Life. Would they have ever been seen in a Beetle?
The truth is Volvo’s rather rakish V40 underpinnings are a little more working class. In fact, it’s based on a Ford floor-pan. Nevertheless from the moment you tug on its chunky door handle it feels as far from being a Swedish Focus as it’s possible to get. Size-wise it may be similar. Both seat five at a push. The V40’s boot is 335-litres compared to the Focus’s 316. But in terms of the quality of its interior fixtures and fittings it’s worlds apart.
The leather is soft. The plastics are high qualit. Everything, from the switches in the trademark “floating stack” centre-console to the fully digital dashboard that allow you to select between its blue-lit Eco mode, the soothing amber/brown of the Elegance setting or the racy red that accompanies Performance, feels like it’s going to last forever and a day. It’s also incredibly comfortable. Volvo’s seats mix comfort and support in a way many manufacturers can only aspire to.
“Steering lacks feedback”
Yes, I hear you cry. But Volvo’s are thirsty aren’t they? They were. They aren’t so much now.
Volvo’s new 2-litre, 4-cylinder D4 turbo-diesel engine (all new Volvos will be four-pots from now on) not only weighs in at 30kg less than the five-cylinder unit it replaces, it also ups the promised combined mpg from an already impressive 64.2 to a yet more frugal 74.3. Not only that, but the VED is now three tax bands lower. This is thanks to CO2 emissions brought down from 117g/km to a much healthier 99g/km.
Even on their own those figure are pretty impressive. But the V40 R-design I’ve just spent the week with also comes with 187bhp. there’s also a very generous and handy for overtaking 295lbft of torque. To put things in perspective, that’s more than a Golf GTD.
Sadly though, that’s where the comparison with any form of “hot” or driver-orientated hatchback starts and ends. The V40 is far too laidback to ever really be called entertaining. The steering lacks any kind of real feedback. The ride is too relaxing to ever be sporty. It’s loud too. The engine’s presence can always be felt, both at idle and when cruising. There’s also a fair amount of tyre rumble. You hear wind noise too, around the A-pillars and the door mirrors when travelling at motorway speeds. Quite how all those brooding Swedish detectives do any thinking in one of these I’ll never know?
“Pre-crash safety system”
Perhaps Wallander and co are more content knowing they’re safe. Very safe. The V40 comes with the following as standard: safety-belt pre-tensioners, whiplash protection, driver’s knee airbag, rollover protection with inflatable curtains and a pre-crash safety preparation system. Plus, there’s a laser-based city safety braking system that will stop the car at speeds up to 31mph.
And, if that’s not enough, a few ticks on the options list bags you Volvo’s radar and camera-based pedestrian detection system. This identifies people walking in front of the car and warns you of their presence, before automatically applying the brakes should you not see them. There’s even an under-bonnet airbag to further protect unsuspecting pedestrians.
Volvo V40 D4 R-design
Engine: 1969cc 4Cyl 16V turbo-diesel
Transmission: 6 speed Manual, front wheel drive
Power: 187bhp @ 3500pm
Torque: 295 lbft @ 1750 – 2750 rpm
Max Speed: 143mph
MPG: 74.3 combined
Price: £26,545 (car driven £33,000)