The Volvo V40 is a classy and economical alternative to the Audi A3 Sportback, as long as you don’t need maximum boot space. The T5 designation might have you thinking that this is a sonorous five cylinder, but instead it’s Volvo’s fuel-saving four-pot, available only with an eight-speed automatic.
Sleek looks, good standard equipment and a broad range of petrol and diesel engines gives it appeal, and it sets the standard for safety in the class. The result is a sophisticated-feeling hatch that has real strengths, including low CO2 emissions and a classy-feeling interior.
All the bright finishes in the cabin, like the shadow chrome trimmings on all four doors and the dash, add up to make the cabin of the V40 feel quite special: the materials and execution are top notch, and it truly feels premium inside.
The rear seat is a bit tight for headroom, and there’s a lack of foot room when you’re getting in and out, due to its shallow floor pan area. Knee room is fine for a six-foot adult. The seating is well bolstered and cushioned in the back, too.
All V40s get a digital radio, CD player, Bluetooth handsfree connection and audio streaming, plus a USB input. It’s a shame, though, that the system is controlled via a combination of fiddly, small shortcut buttons and a rotary dial that scrolls you through layers of menus. It’s not always easy to guess where you should be looking to find simple functions, such as travel updates on the radio, or turning off voice guidance if you’ve added the optional sat-nav.
Controls on the steering wheel are standard on all models, and make it easy to do the basic things such as skipping a track or changing the volume. The V40 also has one of the better standard sound systems in the class; an eight-speaker set-up is standard, while an upgraded Harman Kardon system is available as an option.
The T5 handles with a tidy lack of drama, its secure grip and the weight of its steering generating a reassuringly Volvo-like aura of security. But
lowered suspension or not, the T5 is not a car that invites you to fling it at bends, its dynamic character too subdued for that.
Standard across the V40 range are seven airbags; ABS brakes with emergency braking, hydraulic brake assist and electronic brake distribution; advanced stability control with corner traction control; roll-over protection; front seat whiplash protection.
A couple of stand-out features are Volvo City Safety and Pedestrian Airbag Technology. The former, which was pioneered by Volvo, is now being taken up by many other car makers. Using sensors and cameras the car ‘looks’ down for pedestrians and other risks and if need be applies full auto braking. It can avoid, or at least minimise, collisions at speeds up to 50 km/h.
The V40 is definitely worth adding onto your list of vehicles to test drive before making a final decision on which car to purchase.
Picture credit: Volvo
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By: Peter Machemba