The Volvo V40 is effectively the replacement car for the S40 sedan and V50 wagon models, which ceased production in 2011.
It’s also the first Volvo to be produced since Ford sold the brand to Chinese car maker Geely.
The five-door V40 hatch is Volvo’s contender in the premium hatchback class that includes established euro marques such as the Audi A3, BMW 1 Series and the latest-generation Mercedes-Benz A-Class. Top shelf Volkswagen Golf models are in there, too.
Volvo is hoping the V40’s sleek styling, sporty dynamics and ground-breaking safety features will be enough to lure buyers away from the German trio.
However, despite the fact that Volvo is still considered a semi-premium brand in Australia compared with its German rivals, Volvo has priced the V40 range almost line-ball with the all-new A-Class.
The front-wheel drive V40 line-up comprises two diesel (D2 and D4) and two petrol models (T4 and T5), and three trim levels: Kinetic, Luxury and R-Design.
The entry-level D2 Kinetic (manual only) with a 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel producing 84kW and 270Nm is priced from $34,990 plus on-road costs.
Stepping up to the D4 Kinetic, which gets a five-cylinder turbo diesel developing 130kW and 400Nm, the price jumps to $39,990 for the six-speed manual and $41,990 for the six-speed auto. D4 buyers can also opt for the Luxury trim, which raises the price to $45,990.
The 132kW/300Nm 2.0-litre five-cylinder petrol T4 Kinetic with Volvo’s six-speed Geartronic auto transmission is priced from $41,990, but can also be specified with the Luxury trim for $45,990.
Finally, the range-topping T5 R-Design with an 187kW/360Nm 2.5-litre five-cylinder petrol engine and the six-speed Geartronic is available from $49,990.
By comparison, Mercedes-Benz A-Class prices range from the entry-level A180 BlueEfficiency at $35,600 through to the A250 Sport from $49,900 - $90 less than the V40 T5 R-Design.
However, to sweeten the V40 offer, Volvo is offering all V40 buyers free scheduled servicing over the first 60,000km or three years of ownership.
Performance and fuel consumption varies across the V40 range.
The 1.6-litre four-cylinder D2 turbo accelerates from 0-100km/h in 11.9secs and has a top speed of 190km/h. Fuel consumption is 4.2L/100km with CO2 emissions of 110g/km.
The 2.0-litre five-cylinder D4 will go from 0-100km/h in 8.6 seconds (8.3secs for the auto) and consumes 4.9L/100km with CO2 emissions of 128g/km. Top speed is 215km/h.
The 2.0-litre T4 will hit 100km/h in 8.7 seconds, while fuel consumption is a claimed 7.6L/100km with CO2 emissions of 177g/km. Top speed is 220km/h.
The 2.5-litre T5 can accelerate from 0-100km/h in 6.1 seconds and has a top speed of 250km/h. Fuel consumption is a claimed 8.1L/100km with CO2 emissions of 189g/km.
All Volvo V40 variants employ stop-start technology and regenerative braking.
The V40 offers three distinct chassis set-ups, with the Dynamic as the standard.
The front MacPherson struts are borrowed from the Volvo S60, while the rear uses monotube dampers for a quicker response under load.
The Sport chassis sits 10mm lower and is standard on the T5 R-Design versions, (optional on all other variants). Springs and shock absorbers also have firmer settings.
Finally, the frugal D2 model is lowered by a further 10mm over the Standard chassis setting thereby reducing drag and lowering fuel consumption.
The Volvo V40 is also the first Volvo car to introduce Electrical Power Assist Steering (EPAS), which better supports the integration of safety systems such as Lane Keeping Aid and Park Assist Pilot.
For a more engaging experience buyers can also option EPAS with three different levels of power assistance: City mode, for a high degree of assistance for low-speed manoeuvring; Normal mode, for more steering weight at higher speeds; and Sport mode, with even less assistance for more enthusiastic drivers.
Volvo has also upgraded its stability and traction control systems, with the V40 gaining a raft of new features such as a roll angle sensor, engine drag control, trailer stability assist and torque vectoring for reduced understeer.
The Volvo V40 offers two world-first safety systems – the Pedestrian Detection System, as well as the state-of-the-art Pedestrian Airbag Technology. The latter operates by using sensors in the front bumper that detect contact between the car and a person.
The V40 is also the first Volvo to feature several upgraded safety systems including the City Safety System, which is now active at speeds up to 50km/h (previously 30km/h).
BLISS (Blind Spot Information System) is now radar-based rather than using cameras, and includes Cross Traffic Alert that warns drivers of approaching cars when backing out.
There’s also Volvo’s new Park Assist Pilot that can detect a parking spot 1.2 times the length of the car, followed by an audible signal before the steering is taken over by the system.
The Driver Alert System is another high-tech safety unit available on the Volvo V40 that integrates several systems including Lane Keeping Aid, Road Side Information and Active High Beam. Active Bending Lights that swivel around bends are standard on Luxury and R-Design variants.
Not surprisingly, the Volvo V40 has already been awarded the top five-star safety rating by ANCAP, and holds the record for the highest overall safety score ever recorded by overseas affiliate Euro NCAP.
The V40 is also the first Volvo to be designed around its ‘Human-centric’ design language; boasting several new innovative features including an eight-inch adaptive digital display and active TFT display. The fully graphic display replaces the traditional instrument cluster and allows drivers to choose between three distinct themes: Elegance, Eco and Performance, which changes the central display from a speed scale to a red-lit tachometer.
There’s also a stylish frameless rear-view mirror, as well as theatre lighting, allowing for seven different settings.
Other standard features across the V40 range include a five-inch infotainment display (upgradable to seven-inch), eight-speaker high performance audio system, rear parking sensors, LED daytime running lights, auto lights and wipers, cruise control and City Safety.
Choosing the Luxury specification adds electrically operated front seats, leather trim, leather-wrapped steering wheel with metal inlays, illuminated gearshift knob, active bi-xenon lights, high-performance audio system with seven-inch display, satellite navigation and reversing camera.
R-Design variants receive all of the Luxury features and add performance enhancements and styling features such as Nubuck sports seats, sports pedals, black headlining and various R-Design exterior highlights.
There’s also a range of wheel sizes and designs from the 16-inch alloys on the V40 D2 to 17s for the Kinetic and Luxury lines, while the R-Design gets standard 18-inch alloys.
Also available on V40 Luxury and R-Design models is the Driver Support Pack, priced at $5000. This combines four significant driver aid features including BLISS (with Cross Traffic Alert and Closing Vehicle Warning), Adaptive Cruise Control, Driver Alert System and the new Park Assist. Volvo claim the value of this pack is just under $9000.
Volvo expects to produce at least 100,000 V40s over 2013 for global consumption, with Australia tipped to account for around 800-1000 units.
2013 Volvo V40 manufacturer's list prices:
- Volvo V40 D2 Kinetic - $34,990 (6sp manual only)
- Volvo V40 D4 Kinetic - $39,990 (6sp manual)
- Volvo V40 D4 Kinetic - $41,990 (6sp Adaptive Geartronic auto)
- Volvo V40 D4 Luxury - $45,990 (6sp Adaptive Geartronic auto only)
- Volvo V40 T4 Kinetic - $41,990 (6sp Adaptive Geartronic auto only)
- Volvo V40 T4 Luxury - $45,990 (6sp Adaptive Geartronic auto only)
- Volvo V40 T5 R-Design - $49,990 (6sp Adaptive Geartronic auto only)
CarAdvice is at the launch of the Volvo V40 in Adelaide. Stay tuned for our full first-drive review, coming Wednesday.