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  • Good performance across range; drives well; quality interior; class-leading safety features; attractive design
  • No dual-clutch transmission; manual only entry-level D2; firm ride on some models; pricing almost line ball with the new A-Class

OUR RATING
8 / 10



The all-new Volvo V40 is charged with the unique and unenviable task of filling the shoes of three now-extinct Volvo models: the S40, V50 and C30 models.

It’s the Swedish brand’s first five-door hatchback since the 440 of the 1990s, giving it a belated rival to the Volkswagen Golf and a raft of entry-level vehicles from Germany’s premium-car manufacturers.

The Volvo V40 only catches the upper part of the Golf range, however, with its $34,990 to $49,990 price spread a closer match for those cars with the highest brand cachets – even if the manual base model undercuts the most affordable of the German hatches, the $35,600 Mercedes A180, as well as Japan’s Lexus CT200h.

Volvo, then, will need to convince Australian buyers that the V40 delivers enough ‘prestige’ to compete in this lower end of the luxury spectrum.

Broad, low-slung and curvaceous, the Volvo V40 certainly gets first impressions off to a good start with an undeniably pretty car that may well lure less badge-conscious buyers.

It’s also armed with a battery of high-tech safety kit that includes the world’s first pedestrian airbag.

The V40 enters the market with two turbo diesels (D2 and D4) and two turbo petrol models (T4 and T5), with three trim levels: Kinetic, Luxury and R-Design.

The $34,990 Volvo V40 D2 Kinetic makes do with a 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel developing 84kW and 270Nm. It pulls well enough, is nicely matched with its six-speed manual, and is the most fuel-efficient model in the range using an official 4.2 litres per 100km.

Volvo V40 Review

The power band is fairly narrow, though, and there’s no automatic option.

An optional six-speed dual-clutch transmission, which would be a certainty for boosting D2 sales locally, won’t be available until 2014.

The more powerful V40 D4 Kinetic gets a 130kW/400Nm 2.0-litre five-cylinder and is priced from $39,990 for the six-speed manual or from $41,990 with a six-speed auto. Step up to the Luxury trim level and the D4’s price jumps again to $45,990.

The V40 diesel D4 (tested) gets along with a surprising amount of urgency and there is blissfully little turbo lag thanks to those 400 Newton metres doing their best work from 1750rpm.

Things get even more entertaining when you shove the transmission into Sport mode, which holds gears until the 5000rpm redline. Not bad at all for a diesel-powered family hatch, though paddleshift levers for changing gears manually would liven the driving experience.

There’s a bit of clatter at idle and low down in the rev range, but anywhere north of 2000rpm and the D4 doesn’t sound any different to its sweet-singing T5 petrol sibling.

It’s the same story with the range-topping V40 R-Design – even more pronounced though, given its sporty pretentions.

Priced from $49,990, the 187kW400Nm (with overboost) 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo petrol is the quickest car in the V40 line-up. It will go from 0-100km/h in 6.1 seconds and has a top speed of 250km/h.

Volvo V40 Review

It certainly doesn’t hang around, and that performance is in the ballpark of a Renault Megane RS265 or Opel Astra OPC even if the T5 R-design is a high-spec luxury hatch rather than hot hatch.

If there were any complaints on the performance side, it would be with the smooth-shifting six-speed auto that is at times slow to react and can’t quite keep up with the free-spinning five-cylinder powerplant.

There’s also a sport mode, which moves the shift points to the 6500 redline if you’re really going for it (but we’d still prefer those paddle shifters to truly enjoy it).
The V40’s platform is related to the one beneath the excellent Ford Focus, so the compact Swede has a sound basis from which to work from. And from behind the wheel, it feels rock solid.

The D2 on its high-profile 205/55 series tyres provides the most comfort over broken bitumen with the Sport suspension of the T5 R-Design – with its stiffer dampers and lowered ride height – bringing the firmest ride without shaking bones, but also the most composed cornering.

Generally, the V40’s ride quality is a notable improvement on the choppiness of the C30 three-door hatch.

The V40’s steering in general is relatively precise, and the handling sharp.

On the inside, the V40 actually manages to feel a bit more special compared with some of its German rivals thanks to a simple but luxurious Scandinavian look and feel to all the materials and switchgear.

Volvo V40 Review

The ‘cool’ fully graphic instrument display screen is a treat and can be tailored to three separate modes: Elegance, Eco and Performance. It’s a benchmark piece of technology for the segment and should find plenty of favour from technophiles.

The V40 also introduces a frameless rear-view mirror Volvo says was inspired by modern smartphone design.

Tick the optional Driver Alert System and apart from a plethora of safety kit including Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keeping Aid, Active High-Beam Control and Forward Collision Warning, you’ll also get the ‘licence-saving’ Road Sign Information.

The system uses a series of cameras that continuously monitor speed signs and then flashes the correct legal speed limit inside the central display. We tested the system repeatedly, especially on those notoriously poorly signposted country roads, recording a 100 per cent success rate.

We’re still big fans of Volvo’s trademark floating console, the look of which varies with each trim level.

The base model V40 D2 we drove was finished in a smart white gloss with a red pin stripe, while the T5’s console was a blend of polished alloy and a patterned material.

The leather seats on the Luxury variants are both cosseting and nicely bolstered without being too cushy, whereas the R-Design trim includes Alcantara pews that are more heavily sculptured – just as comfortable, though.

Volvo V40 Review

Despite its compact dimensions, the Volvo V40 offers exceptional rear legroom. Headroom is strangely better in the R-Design models, due entirely to the more aggressive contours.

There’s plenty of cargo space, too, with flat folding rear seatbacks, as well as the front passenger seat, thereby allowing for longer objects such as surfboards to be carried.

The V40 is also fitted with a two-piece floor, which we found unnecessarily fiddly, but there’s decent load space down there all the same.

It offers the style and performance buyers have come to expect from the segment’s more prestigious badges, while maintaining the company’s reputation for safety.


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Volvo V40 Review
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Volvo V40 Specs

D2 KINETIC : M : 1.6L DIESEL TURBO F/INJ - 6 SP MANUAL - DIESEL - 5D HATCHBACK
Car Details
Make
VOLVO
Model
V40
Variant
D2 KINETIC
Series
M
Year
2013
Body Type
5D HATCHBACK
Seats
5
Pricing
New Price
N/A
Private Sale
$23,210 - $26,380
Dealer Retail
$24,050 - $28,600
Dealer Trade
$18,300 - $21,100
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
DIESEL TURBO F/INJ
Engine Size
1.6L
Cylinders
DIESEL TURBO 4
Max. Torque
270Nm @  1750rpm
Max. Power
84kW @  3600rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
63W/kg
Bore & Stroke
75x88.3mm
Compression Ratio
16
Valve Gear
SINGLE OVERHEAD CAM
Drivetrain Specifications
Transmission
6 SP MANUAL
Drive Type
FRONT WHEEL DRIVE
Final Drive Ratio
0
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
DIESEL
Fuel Tank Capacity
52Litres
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
4.2L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
1333
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Height
1420mm
Length
4369mm
Width
1783mm
Ground Clearance
133mm
Towing Capacity
Brake:1300  Unbrake:650
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
RACK & PINION - POWER ASSISTED
Turning Circle
11.2
Front Rim Size
7x16
Rear Rim Size
7x16
Front Tyres
205/55 R16
Rear Tyres
205/55 R16
Wheel Base
2647
Front Track
1546
Rear Track
1536
Front Brakes
DISC - VENTILATED
Rear Brakes
DISC
Front Suspension
MacPherson strut, Coil Spring, Gas damper, Anti roll bar
Rear Suspension
Multi-link system, Coil Spring, Gas damper, Anti roll bar
Standard Features
Comfort
Automatic Air Con / Climate Control, Power front seat Driver
Control & Handling
16 Inch Alloy Wheels, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Traction Control System
Driver
Cruise Control, Parking Distance Control, Power Steering, Trip Computer
Entertainment
Radio CD with 8 Speakers
Exterior
Power Mirrors
Interior
Cloth Trim, Power Windows
Safety
Dual Front Airbag Package, Anti-lock Braking, Head Airbags, Side Airbags, Seatbelts - Pre-tensioners Front Seats
Security
Central Locking Remote Control, Engine Immobiliser
Optional Features
Comfort
Heated Front Seats, Power front seat Passenger, Power Sunroof
Control & Handling
17 Inch Alloy Wheels, Sports Suspension
Driver
Reversing Camera, Satellite Navigation
Entertainment
Premium Sound System
Exterior
Metallic Paint
Interior
Leather Upholstery
Security
Alarm System/Remote Anti Theft
Other
Service Interval
12 months /  15,000 kms
Warranty
36 months /  999,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
Centre Eng Bay Scuttle
Country of Origin
Sweden