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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

8 / 10

Volvo V40 Review
Volvo V40 Review
Volvo V40 Review

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
Volvo V40 Review
Volvo V40 Review
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
Volvo V40 Review
Volvo V40 Review
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
Volvo V40 Review
Volvo V40 Review
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
Volvo V40 Review
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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  • Daniel

    It is really a very nice, very good looking, very desirable car. But even though it looks better imo, I would have a lot of trouble buying one over a 1 Series, an A-Class or an A3. And I would say that is the case for most people and there lies poor Volvo’s problem. Even a Giulietta I might find more desirable. I definitely would buy one over the Lexus CT though, and if I knew I was keeping it and resale wouldn’t be an issue, I could be swayed over a 1/A/A3. I just wish it was a tad cheaper. 

    • Andrew

      Brand snobbery in a nutshell.
      I’m more interested in which car drives better.

      • Jerry

        I think it’s a fair call. The current Volvo range is a little out of it’s league in this price range. Old ford tech and a lack of that premium, chunky euro feel not to mention crappy gear boxes is Volvo’s biggest problem.

        • $29896495

          Volvos aren’t technically in the same class as those others. Which makes there pricing a bit irksome. Ok they are trying to sell them as a prestige car, but in reality they are a Swedish Ford, Holden or Toyota. Lucky for them Ford left them with a good design language, which has brought them into the twenty first century. Price is to high for what it is though.

          • JoeR_AUS

            Funny, I always though Ford got the better share from Volvo, Safety, turbo engines, 5 cylinder, AWD.

          • $29896495

            Safety, turbo engines, AWD, Ford already had, and they’ve given up the 5 cylinder. Ford supplied the base for Volvos. Man, Ford took a massive loss selling to the Chinese. Can’t believe they would have done that without getting some benefit from the Chinese.

            In any case Volvo cars was, when Ford had it, totally absorbed by Ford.

          • JoeR_AUS


            Actually, Ford purchased Volvo in 1999 and even while owned by Ford, Volvo have very few models that have any DNA from Ford. The 5, 6 and 8 cylinder engines are all Volvo, the auto’s come from Aisin (Japan). Most 4 cyl engines are pure Volvo, except for the recent “Ecoboost” engines which you may not know that Volvo engineers pioneered for FORD and had engines, B5234T3, before Ford purchase Volvo. The Focus, Mazda 3 and Volvo S40/V50 share the same C1 platform with 30 engineers from Mazda, Ford and Volvo developing it but only about 60% is the same between them. The first EUCD cars were introduced at the 2006 Geneva Motor Show, Volvo’s S80 and Ford’s S-MAX and Galaxy share the same platform but not before. Have a look at the Ford D3 platform which was designed by Volvo and how many models Ford produce of it. Safety, Volvo has always been the leader here with a few others but no where does Ford get mentioned in the pioneering of Safety.

            Ford suffered the GFC and did like GM and sold off divisions, one of them was Volvo. You might want to read why Ford fire sale Volvo (worth 4 billion in 2010 for 1.4 billion). Ford must of really wanted the money as Volvo was profitable on its own when it was sold in 2010, to Ford’s credit they did not need rescuing like GM and Chrysler.

          • $29896495

            I did my research before writing. I was accurate. Ford designers controlled Volvo design and Ford engineers controlled engineering. In fact Ford controlled Volvo. I know why they sold it, but like my comment losing close to 5 billion, for the reason of avoiding Gov. loans seems counter productive. Even though they sold 100% of Volvo to Geely, there may have been a side deal as there often are with these events. Time will tell. For example even though Ford sold Mazda it retains a percentage.

          • $29896495

            In fact, take a look at the history of the Premier Automotive Group, you might learn something. 

          • JoeR_AUS

            The story of the Premier Automotive Group, you will need to read more then wikipedia. Jacques Nasser was fired over the 5.5 Billion loss. When they sold Volvo, Ford was making a 23 billion loss over two year in 2008. That is when Geely approached Ford.

          • $29896495

            As a matter of fact I already have, Ford press releases Geely, Volvo, financial statements the works. I put down in my last post what was relevant to your assertion proving you wrong. The firing of Jacques Nasser is irrelevant to your assertion. Ford were actually casting around for a buyer, the luxury division PAG, considered a failure was well on the way to being completely broken up. Then came Geely.

          • JoeR_AUS

            You make references, where are they? 

            5 billion loss, when and how? Loss from buy to sale, operational loss over what years. PAG loss, Volvo loss, Ford Loss they are all there.

            Jack Nasser was fired for taking Ford from a record profit in 1999 of 7.2 billion to 5 billion loss for 2001. ref

            www motherjones com/environment/2008/11/how-ford-lost-focus

            This report also states in Nov 2008, when Geely wanted to buy Volvo, Ford was on its way to 23 Billion loss over 2 years.

            Volvo, was losing money and in 2008 lost 1.5 billion ref: economics-filespomona edu/jlikens/SeniorSeminars/oasis/reports/F.pdf

            Your research, assertion, proof, right and wrong, where are they?

          • ozedude

            You mean “irksome”

          • $29896495

            Yeah I do – don’t know why I wrote it like that? Can’t have reread it.

        • JoeR_AUS

          Out of its league?

          What I find with the euros they give you choice. Look at Suabru, which is well and truly in this price range, there 3.6i and 2.5i engines still don’t have DI – note Commodore has had in there V6 since 2010. The new RAV4 is Euro IV petrol engines, so upgrade is on the cards soon! The Subaru does not offer auto in Diesel. The 2.5i still uses the fuel and has poor performance and your only choice is CVT! The CX-5 you get the 2 litre petrol for a 1500kg car and a year later still no 2.5i. The Mazda 3 you only get skyactiv if you spend over 30k drive away. Press raves about new Subaru XT which is 55k drive away, more expensive than a X1 or Q3, of if you shop around a Titanium Kuga is 20k cheaper.

          The Volvo has a range with a model for most and free servicing for 3 years, maybe not for everyone but nor is the A-class.

          • Gfsd

            Huh? How did you manage to make this discussion a comparison between European and non-European brands? You didn’t address what Jerry said at all – you just went on some random rant.

          • JoeR_AUS

            quoting Jerry: The current Volvo range is a little out of it’s league in this price range.
            Well I mentioned cars within the Volvo V40 price range.

      • Daniel

        No no, you misunderstand me. I really mean it from the point that it costs about the same as the competition and the competition drives better, has considerably better resale (I know it’s a new model, but C30 resale hasn’t stood up so well, so…) and probably wider dealer networks. I would probably buy a 1 Series not because it’s a BMW, but because it drives so well. And if you are interested in the drive you’d probably do the same. 

        • JoeR_AUS

          The BMW 1 series is cramped and wait till you pay for the servicing, however aside from that a good choice.

          • The Real Wile E

            Not true on the BMW servicing

        • Jeremy

          I would agree with you Andrew. The 1 Series is still the benchmark for dynamics in this category. I drove the 125i recently and the quick steering, RWD traction off the line and well sorted chassis all blew everything in the $50k range out of the water.

          I do still think the V40 T5 has something to offer though. The additional space and practicality would make it a better family hatch than the other hot/warm hatches. You would just have to live with an auto without paddles.

          • JoeR_AUS

            Until you cross a Megane RS 265. I saw one at a track day at Easter Creek, and it was lapping faster than almost most of the EVO’s….

            Agree on V40 T5, i could buy it and both my wife and daughter could easily live, use and drive it.

          • Lumpycamel

            Love driving the 1 series, shame no one with legs below their knees can fit in the back though…

        • Andrew

          Fair enough Daniel, that makes sense.

  • MisterZed

    I can see this having very limited appeal here in Australia. Should sell up a storm in Europe though.

  • Noddy_of_Toyland

    The off-centre strip of metal (aluminium) in the dash bothers me, but is otherwise a nice car.

  • Ivan Sherwood

    This review has given the V40 a rather glowing writeup when instead it should have been more critical of the the car’s dynamic ability. No matter how much Volvo spins this car’s driving ability it is no match for the BMW 1 series, A-Class or A3 in the driving stakes. Its not class leading in this area no matter what Volvo executives think. Its an improvement over previous Volvo’s but they are where BMW and Merc were about 30 years ago in driving dynamics. Driving dynamics is where it matters most and in this area they fall short because they put more effort into safety technology. Its why Volvo partly fails to attract more buyers than it would like.

    • Ajeans

       Have you driven the Volvo Mr Sherwood?  Car Advice have,  you haven’t

    • JoeR_AUS

      You should wander over to the UK sites and read the comparisons there the differences are in the fine print and no clear winner. As always, it comes down to what you prefer.

    • Poison_Eagle

      Luckily dyanmics are not the only way a car can excel.

    • $29896495

      What qualifies you to make such a statement?

    • Matthew Helm

      When the unfortunate happens, and a collisions results in serious injury or death to a loved one (sitting in the passenger seat, say), then the regrets begin, and any interest in vehicle dynamics fades to nothing and becomes a source of regret, as one wishes that one had made safety the number one priority. You get it, bozo?

  • Zaccy16

    nice car, best allrounder in my opinion, looks fantastic in black and the 5 cyl diesel sounds like a cracker, interior looks mostly good except for some details, but unfortunately priced to high compared to the germans, much much better pick than the cruddy lexus ct, but with the guilietta having pricers reduced cheaper if i was in the market for a car in this class my heart world chose the alfa!

    • Jeremy

      I agree. The guilietta is well priced and highly underrated by Moto Journos for some reason. For those stuck in the past re: Alfa reliability, test one with an open mind and you will be suprised. Looking under the bonet of one you’ll also be suprised that most of the components are made in Germany.

  • Peter

    Anthony, how did you find the turning circle/parking?  It is my pet peeve with Volvos, it has put my wife off the new s60 but I’m hoping this one might be good.  Yes, it is nearly the same price as the Benz, but remember the A class has never really been a premium car, it remains to be seen whether the new one is truly Benz quality. 

    • Anthony

      Peter, you’re on the money with what is a poor turning circle. It’s terrible, but it certainly got plenty going for it. Very easy to live with as a daily.

      • Peter

        Thanks for that.  I had an s60R with the circle at over 13m and after a few episodes getting caught out doing uturns and having to reverse into oncoming traffic, it has become a burning issue for me and my missus who whinges about trying to park.  I’ll still try this one though.

        • Andrew

          The Ford Focus (which this car is built on) has a horrible turning circle also. Even makes parking in shopping centre car parks more difficult than it should be.

          • Theo

            Oh dear!

        • Theo

          Oh no!

      • Theo

        So is a Corolla.

  • Aus_poppa

    Strange decision at the entry level. Why offer a manual only D2 at 84KW/270 Nm, when the D3 engine has been sold here in the S60 offering 140KW/400Nm with a 6 speed auto?

    The conclusion can only be that they wanted to undercut the A Class on price, and it will be surprising if they import more than a token quantity.

    • tonyW

      And this is a classic example of how Volvo have utterly stuffed up the naming of their engines. Aus-poppa – the “D3″ engine in the S60 is in fact much the same “D4″ engine in this new V40 – ie a 5-cylinder 2l diesel with a slightly different level of tune which delivers 120kW/400Nm in the S60 and 130kW/400Nm in the V40. And the same D3 engine in the S60 is called the D4 in the XC60. Its no wonder long term Volvo owners like myself are loosing faith in the brand.

      • $29896495

        That might be the Chinese influence.

      • Theo

        You tell ’em.

  • Mazdaman

    I could have been tempted to look at one these next time but I’ve seen my friends S60 go back for too many problems.
    And call me a badge snob all you like but a Volvo should be cheaper than a Mercedes.

    • Luke…I Am Your Golfmother!

      Buy a Golf instead. Bullet proof engines and drivetrains…nothing ever goes wrong with them

  • Tone

    I stand by my comments in an earlier V40 thread: the prices need to come down by about $5k across the board for the new V40 to be a contender.  I’m sure it’s a great car, but it’s just too close to A-Class/1 Series money.   As for the lack of dual-clutch gearbox option, surely that’s a good thing from the perspective of long term ownership …

    • $29896495

      I agree with you. Maybe more than 5K. Nothing wrong with a good automatic a manual can’t fix. As opposed to one of those other things.

  • Luke Brinsmead

    I think the pricing is right, quality and equipment is very similar to the A Class. This is a premium car.

  • RichieDuck

    Why buy one now when the dual clutch gearboxes are coming….

    • Peter

      so that you can get one without the horrible dual clutch and their attendant problems

  • Sarah

    I quite like this, I like the look of the c30 and the s40 anyway so think this is quite nice looking. Decent styling as well

  • Silver14

    I want a T5-R, but not with an auto box :( give us an option volo? The C30 T5-R can be had with a choice of auto or manual, why not the V40?

  • Steve

    Silver14, you and me both, I’d buy a manual T5, but not an auto…

  • Theo

    It would be embarrassing for a man to be caught driving this car.

    • Matthew Helm

      No, Theo. Wrong. This Swede would be happy to own one.

      P.S.: I am happy to fight you behind the garage to settle this like men.

    • JiM

      oh mate just go away please, is this ur comment for every review now?

      • JiM

        in your sick deluded mind what are men allowed to drive? just big utes?

  • http://www.stoneacre.co.uk/ Ashley Car

    Thanks for the great review. You’ve certainly answered several questions I had wanted answers to and also provided some very useful information on the Volvo V40. I’m currently looking for a new car and had considered the Audi A4 and the BMW 330D as well as the V40. I think the V40 wins hands down when compared to the other alternatives.

    • Trinity

      Theo – not all of us like utes and bogan-mobiles.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ann-Urch/100001019583682 Ann Urch

    NO DSG = very good news. DSG box in our 2011 Jetta is sh*t

    • $29896495

      Have you taken your thing back to the dealer, armed with the Chinese info, yet? 

Volvo V40 Specs

Car Details
Body Type
New Price
Private Sale
$24,200 - $27,500
Dealer Retail
$25,070 - $29,810
Dealer Trade
$19,000 - $22,000
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
Engine Size
Max. Torque
270Nm @  1750rpm
Max. Power
84kW @  3600rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
Bore & Stroke
Compression Ratio
Valve Gear
Drivetrain Specifications
Drive Type
Final Drive Ratio
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
Fuel Tank Capacity
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
4.2L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Ground Clearance
Towing Capacity
Brake:1300  Unbrake:650
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
Turning Circle
Front Rim Size
Rear Rim Size
Front Tyres
205/55 R16
Rear Tyres
205/55 R16
Wheel Base
Front Track
Rear Track
Front Brakes
Rear Brakes
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
Automatic Air Con / Climate Control, Power front seat Driver
Control & Handling
16 Inch Alloy Wheels, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Traction Control System
Cruise Control, Parking Distance Control, Power Steering, Trip Computer
Radio CD with 8 Speakers
Power Mirrors
Cloth Trim, Power Windows
Dual Airbag Package, Anti-lock Braking, Head Airbags, Side Airbags, Seatbelts - Pre-tensioners Front Seats
Central Locking Remote Control, Engine Immobiliser
Optional Features
Control & Handling
Sports Suspension
Reversing Camera, Satellite Navigation
Premium Sound System
Service Interval
12 months /  15,000 kms
36 months /  999,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
Centre Eng Bay Scuttle
Country of Origin