Volvo’s unique selling point has always been their legendary safety standards but some of that advantage has been eroded by the likes of Ford (ironically who owned Volvo until 2010) trumpeting safety crashworthiness and countless airbags as reason to buy a Mondeo for example.
Many others have also leapt on the bandwagon – safety is now a real selling point. Volvo needed to offer more than just safe cars, so now words like driving dynamics, economy, emissions and performance are as much a part of Volvo’s sales literature as their world class standards of safety engineering. Like all marketeers, Volvo’s marketing people hope that by attracting a younger audience to the brand they will generate brand loyalty which will follow on with those people moving up the range as their family and lifestyle changes.
The restyled V40 then is a premium hatchback to rival the likes of the BMW 1 series, Audi A3 or indeed main steam cars like the Ford Focus.
Has it got street cred?
The style is sleek and elegant and during my tenure managed to get quite a few admiring glances. The front end echoes the Volvo family line with the traditional Volvo grille while the whole shape looks low and aerodynamic.
The whole effect works very well.
What’s it like inside?
Slip inside and you will find a cabin that is no less impressive than the exterior. It is roomy and the car will seat four adults in comfort though the low sloping roofline does restrict rear headroom for tall passengers. The boot is just adequate rather than generous in size. The mix of digital and analogue instrumentation is interesting and despite containing rather too much information (do i really need an eco meter?) it all works very well.
The multi-function steering wheel, and very neat centre console, with that unique storage space behind it all gel very well together.
The driving position is excellent, with height adjustment for both front seats.
Standard equipment is equally impressive. The D2 “inscription” model on test had automatic climate control, cruise control, auto wipers, auto lights, Multiple airbags, DSTC, SIPS, and WHIPS, lovely alloy wheels and metallic paint.
The full leather interior, aluminium detailing and 7inch screen on the Inscription model add value.
Other worthy standard features are City Safety, with auto braking to a standstill at speeds below 31mph if a crash is detected, and pre crash warning.
A host of optional packages are offered too such as Style Pack, Winter Pack etc making the V40 a very well equipped car.
What is under the bonnet?
The D2 diesel pumps out 120 bhp and comes with a slick 6-speed manual. Overall performance is good though you do have to rev it a bit to get the best out of it for overtaking. It accelerates well and the gearbox is absolutely superb, light with a short change.
Fuel economy is equally good returning 6.3 litres per 100km, with emissions of just 89g/km road tax Is €180.00 per year.
Will I enjoy driving it?
Once again this car really impressed. It’s nimble, agile and precise to drive, with razor sharp steering and surefooted grip whether in the wet or dry.
The other area that impressed so much is the refinement. The V40 is ultra silent even when cruising at high speed. There is virtually no wind noise, and just about no engine noise unless accelerating.
So what is the final verdict?
Prices for Volvos foray into the premium hatch market start at €28,045.
The V40 D2 Inscription costs €36,950.
Quite simply the Volvo V40 is one of the better cars I have tested of late. It looks great, is very well built, well equipped and drives superbly. I loved every kilometre behind the wheel.
If you want a premium hatch that offers a distinctive style and driving dynamics that bring a smile to your face buy the V40.