Volvo V40 hatchback
Price £18,995 - £31,900
- Fresh, elegant design
- Comfortable ride
- Safest car in class
- High entry-level price
- Petrol engines don't suit auto box
- Not as practical as VW Golf
At a glance
"The Volvo V40 is a handsome alternative to the Audi A3, offering high levels of safety, quality and lots of space."
Volvo used the Ford Focus as a base to make the V40 a much better car to drive than the model it replaced – and it worked! The heavier steering in particular means the Volvo feels solid in the corners, and also extremely stable at motorway speeds. The interior is very quiet, too, while the seats are some of the most comfortable available on any car.
The engine line-up is strong, with buyers having the opportunity to choose between extremely economical diesels, or fast petrols. The eye-catching looks of the exterior continues into the well-built interior, which is arguably a match for the Volkswagen Golf, but its floating central console means it's more interesting to look at.
As you would expect, the Volvo V40 is extremely safe and was one of the first cars to be fitted with autonomous braking, which can stop the car if it senses an imminent accident.
MPG, running costs & CO2
The V40 boasts impressive fuel economy and emissions figures
The most frugal diesel in the Volvo V40 range is the 1.6-litre D2 diesel, which can return an impressive 83.1mpg and emissions of 88g/km for free road tax. The 2.0-litre D3 is much quicker, but still returns credible figures of 65.7mpg and emissions of 114g/km that mean it will cost £30 annually to tax, while the 2.0-litre D4 is faster still, but exactly matches the D3 for emissions and economy.
Petrol engines start with the 1.6-litre T2 that's capable of 53.3mpg and emissions of 124g/km – for road tax of £105 annually. The T3 is quicker, but its 1.6-litre engine returns exactly the same economy and emissions figures, while the T4 is faster still and is capable of 51.4mpg, with road tax costing £105 annually. The 2.5-litre T5 is quick enough to take on almost all fast hatchbacks, but can only manage 34mpg, while road tax costs £260 a year.
Interior & comfort
Composed ride and a decent level of standard equipment
Interior comfort in the Volvo is excellent. The V40 is blessed with a dashboard that is both stylish to look at and a joy to use, while the V40 also has some of the most comfortable seats on the market. The Volvo's interior keeps noise at bay very affectively – with tyre roar only making its presence felt on models fitted with larger wheels. All V40s have decent stereos, which also do an excellent job of cancelling out noise.
Volvo worked hard to make the V40 fun to drive in the corners, and the result is that the suspension does let some lumps and bumps into the interior, but this problem disappears at motorway speeds.
Practicality & boot space
The interior is logically laid out, but there's more room in a VW Golf
The V40 is one of the best-looking cars on the market, but sadly that does mean that interior space has been compromised slightly – especially in the back where tall adults might find things a bit cramped. The boot isn’t as big as we would like, either. Its 335-litre capacity means it is actually 45 litres smaller than a Volkswagen Golf, although there is a movable floor for hiding valuables.
The Volvo's interior has plenty of cubbyholes for storing bits and pieces, including large door bins, as well as a useful extra storage area behind the car's ‘floating’ centre console.
Reliability & safety
High safety scores with great Volvo main-dealer support
Although the Volvo V40 did not feature in our 2013 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, Volvo scored well in the manufacturers’ rankings, coming 8th out of 32 companies – finishing ahead of marques such as Audi, BMW and Porsche. Many of the engines used in the V40 feature in other cars in the range so should prove to be extremely reliable.
Volvos are famed for their safety, and the Volvo V40 is no exception. It scored five stars when it was tested by Euro NCAP. In fact, the V40 got 98 per cent for adult protection. It was also one of the first car's to feature proper protection for pedestrians and, as a result, the car scored 88 per cent in NCAP's pedestrian crash test. The Volvo is also one of the first cars capable of braking autonomously if it detects an imminent front-on impact.
Engines, drive & performance
Comfortable and entertaining to drive, the V40 is a well-rounded hatchback
The Volvo V40 is loosely based on the Ford Focus (which is lots of fun on twisting country roads) so it is no surprise that the V40 is one of Volvo's most accomplished cars to drive. The V40's steering has three settings, which means it can be light for town driving or heavier for driving at speed.
As the most economical engine, the D2 diesel is also the slowest – taking the V40 from 0-60mph in 11.2 seconds, although there is plenty of power for motorway speeds. The D4, meanwhile, delivers a 0-60mph in 8.2 seconds, while the D3 sits between the two.
Even the slowest petrol Volvo V40 T2 can dispatch 0-60mph in 9.4 seconds, while the T3 does it in 8.4 seconds, and the T4 takes just 7.3 seconds. But, with 251bhp, the T5 is the quickest model of all, reaching 0-60mph in just 6 seconds, while its four-wheel drive means it has excellent grip even in slippery conditions.
Price, value for money & options
High asking price sweetened by more equipment and impressive technology
While the Volvo V40 is more expensive than rivals (such as the Ford Focus, BMW 1 Series, and Volkswagen Golf), it does come with plenty of equipment. Even the basic ES models get 16-inch alloy wheels, self-levelling headlights, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, a five-inch TFT screen, as well as iPod connectivity. SE models add to that with keyless entry, cruise control, and a more upmarket interior, while the top-of-the-range SE Lux models get a leather interior, 17-inch alloy wheels, and powerful Xenon headlights. R-Line models, meanwhile, offer a sportier look thanks to even larger alloy wheels and lowered suspension, for better cornering.
We wouldn’t expect the Volvo to hold its value as well as a BMW or Audi, but it should prove more resilient to deprecation than the Ford Focus and other more mainstream models.
What the others say
The driving position is great, with good all-round vision, plus a reversing camera and safety systems such as Cross Traffic Alert. This uses radar to detect oncoming traffic when reversing onto a busy road. The clear, fully digital dash has dials that change colour for each driving mode: Eco, Elegant and Performance. The latter setting gives you a central speedometer with an integrated rev counter.
An all-new car, the Volvo V40 is a sleek and classy looking five-door hatchback that will target the likes of the Audi A3, BMW 1 Series and the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. Engines include a low-tax 1.6-litre diesel engine that emits just 94g/km of CO2 with a claimed average fuel economy of 78.8mpg. That means it'll be seriously efficient and cheap to run for company car drivers and private buyers alike.
Star of the range is the D2, and not just because of its tax-friendly sub-100g/km CO2 emissions. It's smooth, refined and (as long as you keep the revs above 1750rpm) gives performance that's perfectly adequate in everyday life.