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Car trim reviews

Volvo V40 R-Design

If you want a sporty-looking hatchback that's comfortable and cheap to run, the Volvo V40 R-Design could well be the answer.

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The Volvo V40 R-Design represents the sportier end of the V40 hatchback range. That means suspension that's been revised to provide a slightly racier drive, although you lose a small amount of comfort over bumps as a result. That's not to say this car is uncomfortable – it's 'sporty' done in a very 'Volvo' way and it's none the worse for that.

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It's not the most fun car to drive – the rival SEAT Leon FR is more entertaining – but it has a beautifully built interior, elegant styling and one real standout engine. Although the V40 R-Design is available with a range of petrols and diesels, the 2.0-litre 'Drive-E' diesel in the D4 model is exceptional, offering impressive performance, quiet running and free road tax. Only the T5 petrol engine is faster, but it can't come close to the D4's ultra-low running costs.

And because Volvo is a world leader in safety technology, the V40 is one of the safest cars money can buy.

Good points

The Volvo V40 R-Design is certainly the sportiest-looking model in the range, but its styling tweaks are subtle inside and out. Volvo makes some of the best seats in the business and those in the R-Design are very supportive and comfortable on long journeys.Best of all, you can enjoy the added emphasis on the driving experience without the additional costs associated with running a sportier model. And unlike rival brands, which often place the sportier models at the top end of their price lists, Volvo has actually made the V40 R-Design cheaper than the range-topping SE Lux.

Bad points

The V40 R-Design is the most fun-to-drive model in the V40 range, but it still lags behind the SEAT Leon, Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus when it comes to real driving thrills. Neither is it the most practical car in the class.Plus, when you come to sell, a V40 R-Design won't hold as much of its value as an Audi A3 S line.

What you get

  • Alloy wheels
  • Electric folding wing mirrors
  • Auto climate control
  • DAB Radio
  • Sports suspension
  • Sports seats

Recommended optional extras

  • Sat nav
  • Winter Pack
  • Driver Support Pack

Our choice

The Volvo V40 is best with the excellent 2.0-litre Drive-E diesel engine. So equipped, the Volvo V40 R-Design D4 is both powerful and very economical.

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Richard is a former editor of Carbuyer, as well as sister site DrivingElectric.com, and he's now Deputy Editor at Auto Express. Having spent a decade working in the automotive industry, he understands exactly what makes new car buyers tick.

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