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Volvo V40 review - the outsiders choice
The Volvo V40 is definitely a bit of an outsiders choice compared to the likes of the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus. In R-Design trim, it boasts some of the best looks in the hatchback market, but loses out to competitors in terms of boot space.
It's a premium quality product, with proper build inside and a decent exterior finish. The model range boasts a wide range of petrol and diesel engines to choose from, which means you can pick the exact powertrain to suit your needs.
Dynamically, the Golf best it, although sharing its underlying platform with the Ford Focus most definitely puts the Volvo in a good position when it comes to driving. Volvo has setup the springs, dampers and power steering in the V40, which is a both a good and a bad thing. The car feels well setup, but lacks communication through the steering, feeling vague at the best of times.
The V40 Cross Country boasts four-wheel drive and a price tag of £34,000 on-the-road. It's also not worth considering, because despite that extra ground clearance, the car is neither practical nor particularly useful as a towing machine, being powered by the range-topping T5 petrol engine mated to the Geartronic automated gearbox. Curious.
Those tempted by a Golf GTD should consider giving the D4-powered Volvo V40 a test drive. Its 187bhp four-cylinder diesel is just as smooth and refined and, impressively, more efficient than the Golf's. The D4 can be had across the V40 line up, bar the entry-level ES specification. The R-Design models, with the brighter paint schemes, look every bit the diesel hot hatch to rival the GTD.
That engine has loads of torque as well, giving it effortless performance. A word of warning, however; the chassis has trouble dealing with all that torque on anything other than a dry and smooth road. It can't effectively put the power down when it's really bumpy or when the surface is a little slippery. The Golf is better in that regard, but in everyday driving there's little to choose between them.
Performance and 0-60 time > The fastest Volvo V40 – equipped with the T5 engine – hits 62mph in 6.3sec. It is powered by a turbocharged 2-litre petrol engine developing a strong 242bhp. Read all about the Volvo V40's performance and 0-60 time
Engine and gearbox > The engines for the Volvo V40 line vary heavily and escalate in power (T2, T3, T4, T5 for petrols and D2, D3, D4 for diesels). Neither manual nor automatic gearbox options are particularly enticing for drivers. Read all about the Volvo V40's Engine and gearbox
MPG and running costs > The eco-star of the Volvo V40 line-up is the D2 diesel engine, which emits just 88g/km for zero road tax and officially returns a combined 83.1mpg. Read all about the Volvo V40's MPG and running costs here
Prices, specs and rivals > Prices start at £18,940, which gets you the base ‘ES’ trim with a T2 petrol engine. Basic equipment includes a lot more than on many a rival, however, such as the Ford Focus Estate. Read all about the Volvo V40's prices, specs and rivals
Interior and tech > The V40 features tactile interior design materials with intuitive controls. The cabin is also of high quality, and in terms of tech this Volvo has all the safety features you could want. Read all about the Volvo V40's interior and tech here