Volvo has stayed with forced induction for the T-5, it’s also downsized to a four cylinder of two litres capacity. Peak power, a not inconsiderable 180 kW, is seen at 5500 revs whilst torque, all 350 Nm of it, is mesa flat from 1500 through to 4800 revs. Again, it’s the eight speed auto that’s fitted, in keeping with Volvo’s commitment to increasing economy and decreasing emissions. It’s quiet, refined and claims 6.1L of gogo juice consumed per 100 klicks on a combined cycle.
The test car came clad in the same distinctive blue paint that covers their top of the range S60 sedan, the Polestar. It highlights the low, slinky shape the V40 has plus showcases the satin black, diamond cut, alloy wheels fitted (clad in grippy Michelin 225/40 ZR rated tyres), named Ixion 2 R-Design. They really do look sensational and make a pleasing contrast with the Volvo blue.
Compared to the Luxury spec, there’s not too much in real exterior difference, with perhaps the most notable being a different location for the LED DRL’s, being pushed out to the corners and vertically laid in. There’s a slightly different rear valance and a glass roof to complete the picture.
On the Inside.
Not a huge difference from the Luxury; the centre console and dash have a different look, with a chrome/alloy strip on the driver’s side, different coverings on the seats (velour or alcantara) mixed in with the leather and the centre dash mounted display screen lights up with the same colours chosen for the dash display “Themes”….and Elegance is different, too, going cool blue instead of green.
Safety, as you can expect, is a huge factor in the V40. There’s the innovative Pedestrian Airbag System (found across the V40 range, video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wH6iNQUUI8; Corner Traction Control which is a torque vectoring system, it helps the driver avoid understeer by applying just the right amount of brake force to the inner wheels while powering the outer wheels when accelerating out of a corner; Ready Alert Brakes which move the pads closer to the discs if the car’s safety computers feel something may be about to happen that will need quick brake application; Roll Over Protection System and full length curtain airbags and more. For the category and class the V40 R-Design is in, just over $50K gets some pretty decent technology.
Then there’s the options fitted to this vehicle; the full length glass roof ($2650), heated front seats ($375) and the Driver Support Pack (Blind Spot Information System and Cross Traffic Alert, Driver Alert and Adaptive Cruise Control with Collision Alert plus Parking Assist System) to take the retail price up to $58425.
You’ll also get as standard the awesome sound system, with one of the best balanced mixes I’ve heard in a car.
On The Road.
Although there’s almost the same amount of peak torque as the D4 Luxury (350 Nms vs 400 from the diesel) and starts 250 revs lower (1500 vs 1750), there’s not the same neck snapping burst of acceleration off the line. There’s a touch of driveline vibration, no feeling of lacking any motivation, just not the same OMFG when the slipper is sunk. However, rolling acceleration is fantastic, with that 350 torques available at your beck and call over a 3000 rpm range, giving an educated driver plenty of safety factor. Once under way there’s a feeling of solid confidence, the electronics playing handsies with each other to keep the V40 R-Design on the tarmac, a gentle nudge of the tiller as the system reads the car moving towards a white line and centreing the car. The LCD dash will also show a red light where white would be, indicating the white lines either side of the car.
The forward collision alarm is almost perfect, but will sense, sometimes, cars or obstacles not in its direct path and will flash a warning red light from its vantage point on the top of the dash.
There’s a seat of the pants sensation of torque steer, the computers quickly dial that out and the R-Design remains surefooted and purposeful; the slightly harder, sports oriented suspension is never teeth shattering as well, giving a combination of balls and all power driving and subtly reinforcing the driver’s ability.
The eight speed auto has the Sports mode; again, in my eyes, almost superfluous, such is the smoothness and ability of the programming.
Physically, the V40 will be ok for a family of four, but the R-Design, for me, is best suited for a single or couple. The level of tech it has, the driveability and the look of it in that glorious Polestar blue…..thankfully it’s in no danger of being bought by those that think a $25K hatch is too much moolah.
Should you be reasonably well cashed up and not needing a “big” car, the V40 R-Design is for you.
Pricing and tech details can be accessed here: http://www.volvocars.com/au/all-cars/volvo-v40/pages/default.aspx