It’s “just” two litres in size yet manages to twist out 400 torques, from 1750 revs to 2500. Peak power is 140 kilowatts, at 4250 rpm. Sipping from a 62 litre tank at just 4.5L/100 km (claimed, combined). From a standing start (the V40 also has Stop/Start technology), there’s a momentary hesitation before the engine comes on boost and slingshots the car away.
It’s front wheel drive, meaning that there’s torque steer, it feels heavy initially before lightening up. There’s the characteristic diesel chatter but it’s muted, unobtrusive and the Stop/Start is finely controlled by bare changes of foot pressure on the brake to have the engine ready to go instantly or ready to go inside a second.
All of that grunt is transmitted to the tarmac via a slick shifting, intelligent eight speed auto with Sports Mode, part of Volvo’s “Drive-E” marketing push, offering better fuel economy and driveability by upping the torque, power and gearbox ratios.
The V40 is compact to look at; it’s low (1420 mm) not particularly wide (1559 mm) and appropriate for its class, length wise, at just 4369 mm. The wheelbase isn’t massive, as a result, at 2647 mm and rolls on 17 inch diameter alloys, wrapped in Michelin 225/45 rubber.
Being low and comparatively long to look at, it has a slinky appearance in profile. Bi xenon teardrop shaped headlights (with a leveling feature and Active Bending Lights) feed into the fenders whilst a stylish look for the LED daytime running lights is added by having them set low and in a slimline case. The front end clip has Volvo’s family “inverse arrow head” look with a strong horizontal presence bracketed by inside out arrow points.
The hatch back rear appears to bend through over 45 degrees from the bumper, leaning forward at the top, whilst the tailgate itself has a medium height loading lip. A scallop draws the eye from front to rear in a pleasing line at the lower portion of the door.
On The Inside.
Being a compact body, it’s a touch cosy in the back and almost just right for the driver and passenger. There’s small storage trays at either extremity for the back seat occupants, which does take up a few vital inches. Front seats are supportive, comfortable and the driver’s seat gets three (!) memory positions.
The V40’s option list extends to heated seating at $375 (would love cooling as well for black leather during summer in Australia), plus a Driver’s Pack valued at $5k which is full of safety, bringing home Blind Spot Alert, Cross Traffic Alert, Adaptive Cruise Control/Collision Warning/Auto Brake and more.
Volvo’s much vaunted driver’s display with a choice of three visual settings provides personalisation, accessed via the indicator stalk (left hand side in Australia); it’s super crisp and clear across all driving conditions. Housed in the same tasteful binnacle is a display screen for radio and navigation, in high contrast black and white. Info is accessed by the messy array of buttons situated in the floating centre console. It’s ergonomically messy and largely user unfriendly, plus the chrome surrounds on the textured black plastic and gunmetal console (and around the aircon vents) reflect sunlight very easily, sometimes directly into the driving position.
There’s the now common tech such as Bluetooth streaming, Auxiliary/USB inputs plus voice control for the navigation, web access via smartphone tether, a thumping 8 speaker audio system and heated wing mirrors.
In the rear, there’s a simple yet smart touch; what looks like the 324L cargo bay floor is a lift up section that split folds to give extra room and support for items.
On The Drive.
That torque provides an ongoing wave of acceleration, seemingly unending as the push in the back is unrelenting from standstill to bye bye license velocities. There’s the typical turbo hesitancy off the line, forgotten in seconds as the speedo says nasty things with a decent right foot pressure. Even light throttle has the diesel, quietly chattering away, hauling the V40 away decently well. The eight speed auto shifts almost imperceptibly, with a barely registering flick of the tacho needle to say it’s changed.
Steering is precise, intuitive and well weighted; it’s enough heft to give an idea of where the front is and light enough to not feel disassociated from the tracking. Torque steer is apparent when the go pedal is used in anger, less so when asked gently.
Ride quality is biased towards, unsurprisingly, comfort however there is enough firmness to impart a sense of control when cornering. Body roll is minimal and the suspension is well and truly tuned for Aussie roads, with even the bigger rubber based speedbumps being reasonably flattened out.
Float, pitch and dive under brakes (good brakes too!) are also minimal, with a undulating freeway section throwing up barely a hiccup.
When the biggest complaint one can find is purely to do with a perceived lack of internal room, knowing full well it’s because of a car’s compact dimensions, it says something about how well sorted the overall package is. Ergonomically, it’s almost spot on, however the centre console section with buttons and aircon controls is….not intuitive, politely.
The starting price of $46490 + ORC’s and options gets you into true European quality motoring at a very affordable price.
Information on the V40 range and offers are here: http://www.volvocars.com/au/all-cars/volvo-v40/pages/default.aspx