We drive Volvo's facelifted premium hatchback
Pros: Impressive diesel engines, distinctive looks, frugal
Cons: Dated centre console, more practical rivals
The Volvo V40 competes in the rather niche area premium hatchback class, rivalling Audi’s A3 Sportback, the Mercedes-Benz A-Class and established models such as the BMW 1 Series. First-launched in 2012, the V40 has swiftly become one of the Swedish brand’s best-selling and most sought-after models. The V40 received a mild facelift last year, with some new options and a slight restyle, so with that in mind, we took it for a drive on Irish roads to see how it has changed.
What is it like?
Styling changes are virtually unnoticeably from before except for the new ‘Thors Hammer’ LED daytime running lights that feature at the front end of the car. The V40 is a rather distinctive-looking car thanks to its flowing roof line and black panel inserts on the boot lid at the rear. Our test car is a Momentum-specification model, which is one of the entry-level options in the range and it features 16-inch alloy wheels, colour-coded mirrors, a rear spoiler and twin exhaust pipes too.
The V40 feels suitably upper class when you step inside, although it isn’t quite as roomy or practical as some of the other cars in its class. The seats are supportive and extremely comfy which is a trait in the majority of Volvo’s latest models, while front seat passengers are treated to generous amounts of head and leg room. It’s a different story in the rear however, as the sloping design of the roof is somewhat restrictive for taller passengers and boot space is a modest 335 litres. Everything feels well-made and safe and secure inside.
Technology has been advancing quickly in recent years with lots of manufacturers switching to touch screen systems and button-free centre consoles. Indeed many of Volvo’s latest models such as the S90 and XC60 feature a large tablet-like touch screen infotainment system, but the V40 is comparatively old-school with an array of buttons and a small screen. Although it isn’t the most vibrant infotainment in the class, it’s easy to use however. Our test car has an optional driver’s information TFT display which is a lovely addition.
The V40 is available with a 2.0-litre petrol engine or a 2.0-litre diesel engine in two different states of tune (120hp or 150hp). We drove the 120hp D2 diesel, and although it’s the lower power, it is a highly capable unit with plenty of low down grunt and great cruising ability. With the six speed manual gearbox in our test car, it will cover the 0-100km/h sprint in 10.5 seconds and go on to an eventual top speed of 190km/h. Buyers can also choose an optional Geartronic automatic transmission, but the manual box is well-suited in our opinion. Running costs are quite competitive in the D2 as annual motor tax is a lowly €180, and we achieved just short of 58mpg in economy.
The V40 is based on the same platform as the latest Ford Focus which a great thing, as the Focus is one of the most-engaging hatchback cars to drive right now. While the V40 isn’t quite as fun to drive, it is nonetheless confidence-inspiring with fast steering and reassuring levels of grip in the wet. The V40 offers one of the best safety-ratings in its class with active city braking, seven airbags and adaptive airbags all featured as standard.
Starting prices kick off at around €28,995 for the entry level Kinetic and Momentum models with the D2 Diesel engine, just like the car that we drove here. Standard specification is good with features such as a tyre pressure monitoring system, various safety systems, adaptive cruise control, alloy wheels and lots more included as standard. Higher specification R-Design and Inscription models are much better equipped, though starting prices for these models are over €30,000.
Carzone verdict: 3.5/5
The Volvo V40 makes for an enticing alternative to cars such as the Audi A3 Sportback and BMW 1 Series, amongst others. It brings a great range of efficient diesel engines, a refined drive and premium cabin quality, along with a distinctive design. It isn’t the most spacious five door hatchback option however, and the layout of the centre console and infotainment feels outdated compared with the class competition however.
Test Car Details:
Model driven: Volvo V40 D2 Momentum
Prices from: €28,995
Price as tested: €33,334
Annual Road Tax: €180
Engine: 1969cc four-cylinder turbocharged diesel
Power/Torque: 120bhp / 280Nm
Top Speed: 190km/h
0-100km/h: 10.5 seconds
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Body style: Hatchback
Boot Space: 335 litres