It's developed by people who care
The Volvo V40 is a slick and wholly convincing family hatch. Where V used to mean 'estate' in Volvo nomenclature, this time round it's a five-door spin-off of the C30 coupe with a broad range of engines and some delightful interior detailing. Prepare to be surprised. Even by the least powerful entry-level D2 variant.
Most British-bought V40s will deliver diesel drive via the four cylinder 115bhp 1.6-litre unit were looking at here, as fitted to the entry-level D2. It's no ball of fire of course – sixty takes 11.7s on the way to 118mph – but it's as fast as most will need it to be and 270Nm of torque means you won't have to row the car along with the gearlever in town, an environment where, to be honest, you might appreciate rather better rear three-quarter vision.
Here's a hatch clearly developed by people who care about driving. The result is a very good compromise indeed of absorbent ride and assured handling composure.
Make no mistake, the V40 is a landmark car for Volvo. It's the first product of their 'Designed Around You' strategy, which aims to better understand how owners interact with their cars, giving them a luxury experience that is a little more human-oriented. The results are clear to see. Even in this entry-level D2 diesel form, it's good looking, it's comfortable and even the more complex technical functions have been made more intuitive than many of its rivals. In short, you feel that this is a car that's on your side.
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With a pin-sharp chassis and a broad range of engines, it's hard to see the V40 getting it wrong. It can certainly hold its head up against the premium contenders like the BMW 1 Series, the Audi A3 and the Mercedes A-Class, with a cosier, unthreatening personality that many potential buyers will like. Some might see this car as evidence of Volvo selling out, chasing the mainstream punters. It's anything but.