Volvo have been synonymous with safety for many years, building boxy but good cars in the 70's, 80's and 90's, vehicles like the 240 and the 850, however their latest cars hark back to the early years of Swedish manufacturer Volvo's, pretty cars. These were the times when the P1800 and P1900 were the real lookers, with a look as well as a style.
We reviewed and road tested the executive Volvo model for 7 days, the model we received was the 2.0 Litre Diesel D3 Inscription - We embarked on a journey that took us over 1,100 miles, from the Lake District down to Hampton Court where we attended the Concours of Elegance, then back to Lakes to explore the roads around Silverdale, Arnside and Milnthorpe.
The V40 first appeared on the market in 2012, and under went very few changes in the latter years, in a word the funky modern hatchback was ahead of its times in terms of looks and tech.
There is one generation to date of V40 with likely a replacement appearing in the next few years - A 2017 model D3 Inscription starts at £23,565 with the top of range models priced at just over £35,000, our car included £9000's of optional extras including leather interior and panoramic sunroof.
The 2017 V40 is not quite what you would expect when you think of a Volvo, a curvy Focus sized hatchback. Volvo have carried over there premium, stylish and minimalist ques from there larger and more grand models. As soon as you look at the exterior you can see the executive theme signified by the Inscription emblem a chrome grill and trims running round the windows combined with modern styling and functionality like the Thors Hammer day time running lights, definitely lifting this car over the previous generation. The flowing body lines on the front and side of the car make the car appear very slick and stylish, along with the rear tinted windows and rear spoiler the V40 is going to appeal to far more than the Volvo typical market, the V40 is just as desirable as its rivals from BMW and Audi.
Highlights of the V40 D3 Inscription which we tested include:
LED daytime running lights
Power folding mirrors
Looking at the overall exterior it is typically Volvo, stylish, minimalist and very smart, they have done a great job at down sizing some of there larger more premium models yet keeping the car looking executive. The car we tested was fitted with 18in alloy wheels and panoramic roof which really added to the exterior, however options can get pricey, worth every penny however they are worth keeping an eye on. If you are after a more sportier looking car the R-Design would be perfect model.
The V40 does a great job of standing out and being that little bit different from its rivals, and in that way becoming very appealing.
Volvo really delivers a premium experience with the interior of this executive hatchback - lots of stitched leather and soft touch materials complemented by the signature aluminum floating centre dash, these cars certainly rival similar BMW and Mercedes models when it comes to build quality. The interior is full leather, plush, sporty and very comfortable, perfect for long haul drives.
We travelled over 500 miles in one day in this car and at we remained extremely comfortable the whole time. Everything in the V40 is within easy reach of the driver and relatively simple to use climate control, connectivity etc. The heated and electrically adjustable seats were only a few buttons away from the perfect driving position. The addition of the leather wrapped steering wheel, nicely finished shift lever and handbrake really did finish the complete the executive theme.
It really was difficult to find anything which detracted from the interior of this car. If anything an updated touch screen infotainment system would have been a welcome addition.
The Volvo V40 offers a driving experience like no other, with dynamic modes adjusting the way the vehicles experiences with different scenarios, our 2.0L D3 engine came in at 150bhp and delivered well on power and economy thanks to its 6 speed automatic transmission. This car is all you need for a executive mid sized hatchback, it offers exemplary comfort and refinement, making it the perfect motorway car as well as on the A roads.
There are number of engine choices available in the V40 range including both petrol and diesel options starting with a 1.6L petrol and the most powerful being a T5 R Design 2.5L 245bhp 4 cylinder model, the diesels start a 1.6L with 122bhp most powerful being 190bhp 2.0L D4. As we mentioned the car we reviewed was more than capable, the 2.0L D3 150bhp auto model, an engine which felt very refined taking steep inclines, windy roads and mountainous roads in its stride, on motorways the car comes into its own especially when set to Elegance mode, this slightly tweaks the dampers to offer a very comfortable ride.
Power delivery is superb with the V40 being able launch rapidly and under control, the 3 driving modes offered by Volvo give this car different leases of life.
Comfort mode made the car slightly too soft on the back roads for more spirited driving, yet was perfect for Motorway driving, around the city, and generally relaxed driving ironing out bumps allowing for a smooth ride making the car comfortable on long haul drives.
Dynamic mode added a sporty approack, making the car more agile, a touch stiffer inturn increasing responsiveness when cornering.
The effect of the driving modes carry through to the steering too, comfort being perfect for leisurely driving and dynamic being ideal on the back roads.
Driver aids were a large part of what makes the V40 so great, the adaptive cruise control, auto dipping headlights and antonomous braking really did enhacne the whole experience, especially on the motorway and when driving long distances. We drove all the way from the Lake District to Hampton Court and back in one day. The car performed admirably, being able to set the adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist made the car almost effortless to drive, ensuring we arrived at our destination wide eyed and bushy tailed.
The space in the front of the V40 is more than ample with plenty of head room and leg room, with lots of adjustment in the very comfortable seats, the optional heated and electrically operated seats make it a very pleasing experience. The front of the car is very well finished with soft touch materials, the very large glove box, large door bins and central cubby hole with 2 cup holders make it very practical in the front, with plenty of storage for items such as your keys or consumables. The floating dash also adds a secret place to store valuables, it's also the perfect place to store your mobile phone safely out of view. All the controls are all within easy reach of the driver, located on either the steering wheel or on the central control area, inclduing the infotainment system.
The rear of the car had plenty of room for two adults or 3 children, with lots of head room and leg room and due to the positioning of the two outer seats it was possible to see around the two front seats and see through the windscreen although this did impede on the centre seat. The centre seat does have a convenient pull down arm rest with cup holders.
The panoramic sun roof really did add to the rear seat experience making the car light and airy. It would have been nice to see some rear air vents in the car and possibly a 12V socket. The interior quality in the rear continued the executive luxury them with all high quality materials, and soft touch plastics. When it comes to the boot its not quite the gigantic space you would expect from a Volvo however this is a medium sized hatchback, you can still easily stow a couple of suit cases, the adjustable angled boot floor with clever hooks for shopping bags and seats which fold flat making the boot a very useable and feature packed space.
The V40 contained a wide range of tech, the car which we tested was fitted with the Xenium and Intellisafe packs, despite these being almost £4,000 they are well worth considering when purchasing, the additions include;
Park Assist Pilot
Rear Park Assist Camera
Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake
Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection
Adaptive Cruise Control
Queue Assist (Automatic Transmission only)
Lane Keeping Aid
Driver Alert Control
Active High Beam
Road Sign Information Display
Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert
The adaptive cruise control, autonomous braking and active high beam were all features which stood out to us, making the V40 perfect car for long haul drives and business trips.
The 7" screen on the infotainment system provided phone connectivity (Bluetooth, USB and AUX), Satellite Navigation and DAB radio inaddition thescreen displayed reverse parking camera and sensors, and allowed you tweak vehicle settings and also provided the driver with useful auto related information e.g. economy etc admittedly its does take some time to fathom being slightly fiddly controls, the functionality is there though, a welcome addition would be touch screen. The Harmon Kardon stereo with multiple speaker setup was a highlight, delivering unsurpassed sound enjoyment with extremely crisp sound with no distortion.
Th overall amount of safety equipment provided gave you piece of mind, we found that the systems operated flawlessly with the active high beam and adaptive cruise control systems to be some of the best we have tested. A large abundance of air bags and ISOFIX points were a welcome addition. The V40 is also one of the first cars to be fitted with a pedestrian airbag which deploys from underneath the bonnet.
It is worth remembering that all of this equipment does come at a cost, so be careful when choosing your options.
Overall we believe that the V40 is a great alternative to some of its rivals, something a bit different from the BMW 3 series or Jaguar XE. We liked the minimalist styling and the amount of tech available on the car, the range of trim levels, engines and transmissions means you can make the car your own depending on your lifestyle. A few things do detract a little the options that can get expensive and infotainment system which would benefit from an update.
If you are looking for a car for more spirited driving it might be worth considering the V40 R-Design.
Style and looks 9/10
Cost (Outright) 6/10
Finance Options 7/10
8 / 10 Overall Score
This was our experience for a 7 day test, fuel economy and long term usage can not be fully documented.
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