Volvo V40 hatchback

£19,345 - £31,850

The Volvo V40 is a mid-size family hatchback that offers an alternative to the ‘usual suspects’ from Germany. If the popular Audi A3, BMW 1 Series or Mercedes A-Class isn’t really your thing, the Volvo V40 is a very worthy option.

The V40 is a good looking, comfortable and incredibly safe hatchback. Volvo's reputation for building solid and protective cars hasn’t escaped the V40, as Euro NCAP identified it as the safest small family car to buy in 2012. It was one of the first with autonomous braking – a system which automatically applies the brakes if it senses you’re about to crash. A few years on, the V40's class rating hasn’t been bettered, and is one of the reasons why it won Carbuyer's Safest Car award in 2015.

Besides the V40's impeccable safety rating, the interior is very well finished and the seats are very comfortable, which makes it an excellent car for long distance cruising. The ride quality does take a hit if you choose the sports pack, which lowers the suspension and includes larger alloy wheels, but the handling is generally good on all models. The interior can get a little loud at higher speeds, but the V40 is a very competent all-rounder.

Depending on the model you choose, the V40 can also be very frugal. For example, the D2 diesel returns up to a claimed 78.5mpg and CO2 emissions low enough for free road tax. The diesels provide enough performance to be competent in most situations, so we think they are better all-rounders.

Standard equipment across the whole range is very good – as you’d expect considering the base price of the V40. ES models are the entry-level spec, with the range rising to the sporty R-Design models and plusher Lux versions. There are numerous option packs, too, which make more sense than buying individual extras.