Volvo V40 Cross Country T5 AWD Inscription (2016) Review

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Volvo released the facelifted V40 Cross Country in South Africa recently and we spent some time in the range-topping T5 all-wheel-drive Inscription to experience the changes and to determine if this derivative is worth consideration.

We like: Interior quality, power delivery, purposeful styling

We don’t like: Smaller boot and impinged rear passenger space, poor fuel efficiency.

Alternatives

  • For similar appeal: Consider the Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 4MATIC Style. This derivative offers less power than the T5 AWD Cross Country (with 155 kW and 350 Nm of torque generated by its 2.0-litre turbocharged engine) and a similar specification, but the more expensive with pricing starting at R613 776.
     
  • The budget option: For buyers who want something similar in terms of packaging (if not in product pitch) and for considerably less money, consider the Subaru XV 2.0i-S automatic priced from R419 000. The XV is not as premium as the T5 AWD Cross Country or GLA 250 4MATIC, but it offers similar practicality. The XV 2.0i-S automatic is powered by a naturally aspirated 2.0-litre engine with 110 kW and 196 Nm.

Compare the Volvo V40 T5 AWD Cross Country with the Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 4MATIC Style and Subaru XV 2.0i-S automatic
 


The Volvo V40 T5 Cross Country AWD is stylish with its raised ride height and additional body cladding. 

The Volvo V40 has always been an attractive-and-often-overlooked offering in the premium hatchback segment. The rugged appeal of the V40 Cross Country is aimed at the lifestyle-orientated buyer who will typically use the vehicle as an urban runabout and venture into the countryside with the family when the weekend arrives. The V40 Cross Country, therefore, needs to be safe, practical, and comfortable with decent road manners to keep the spouse and offspring smiling on every journey. How well does the V40 T5 AWD Cross Country live up to these requirements? We put it to the test…

How does it fare in terms of…

Kerb appeal?

The V40 Cross Country, with its ground clearance of 145 mm (12 mm more than the standard V40) and additional appointments such as roof rails, black bumper cladding and tweaked front-end, looks handsome and suitably sophisticated. Note the striking addition of "Thor’s Hammer" LED daytime running lights, which is an aesthetic highlight on this newly facelifted V40 Cross Country. Incidentally, LED headlights are fitted as standard on this derivative.

Riding on 18-inch alloy wheels, the V40 Cross Country’s design is stylishly executed, which bodes well for buyers who are looking for a more elegant hatchback. With its good-looking Swedish genes, the V40 Cross Country makes a strong statement in the style stakes.

Performance and ride quality?


Power and good ride quality is what you can expect from the V40 T5 Cross Country AWD.

This V40 Cross T5 Inscription is powered by the same 2.0-litre turbopetrol engine that’s offered on the XC90. It’s a powerful unit with 180 kW and 350 Nm of torque delivered to all four wheels through a smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission.

Working in conjunction with the all-wheel drive system, the T5 Cross Country lays its power down with fervour. Acceleration is brisk. In fact, Volvo claims 6.1 seconds for the 0 to 100 kph sprint, which is pretty quick for a "family car". Apart from the power advantage of this T5 derivative, the Cross Country delivers a composed and refined drive too. The all-wheel drivetrain does add weight to the compact premium hatchback; the Volvo doesn't corner with much verve, but its steering is reasonably direct and the car's general handling is anything but leery. 

On the upside, the V40 T5 Cross Country is pliantly sprung and we found its ride quality to be one of its strengths. It copes well on varied surfaces and soaks up bumps and ruts well. The cabin is solidly built and the mixed use of leather and steel give the V40 Cross Country an upmarket feel.

Some members in our team were of the opinion that the T5 Cross Country doesn’t strike the best balance between performance and economy, and there is some truth to this. Volvo claims a fuel consumption figure of 6.1 L/100 km for the V40 T5 Cross Country AWD and during its tenure with us, it achieved 9.8 L/100 km. The 140 kW/300 Nm T4 Cross Country derivative will in all likelihood return better fuel consumption figures at the expense of outright performance, but if power is important to you, then this T5 Cross Country has more than enough.   

Practicality?

With its raised ground clearance, added cladding and all-wheel drive system, this V40 T5 Cross Country offers a degree of extra practicality over the standard V40. It is not perturbed by gravel roads and the all-wheel drive system offers more grip, particularly in slippery conditions.


Boot space in the V40 T5 Cross Country is average and rear passenger space could be better.

In terms of interior space, the V40 T5 Cross Country is average. The boot offers 335 litres of space, which is fair, but it’s significantly smaller than that of the Mercedes-Benz GLA (481 litres). You can, however, fold the 60:40 split rear seat down to access (a claimed) 1 032 litres of space.

We found rear passenger space to be a bit cramped. Knee room is particularly tight and headroom is limited by the sloping roofline. However, smaller humans ie. children, will be suitably comfortable. Rear passengers also have access to a central armrest with cup holders.

The Volvo V40 T5 Cross Country is practical enough for specific functions such as the school run, your weekly shopping mission and a weekend away with the family. However, if plentiful luggage space and rear passenger space/comfort are important to you, perhaps a compact SUV/crossover is a better bet.   

Safety and comfort features?

An excellent safety specification comes part and parcel with Volvos. Indeed, the V40 ranks highly in terms of safety and this T5 Cross Country is no different. Standard safety features on this particular derivative include ABS with EBD, brake assist, hill start assist, stability control and traction control.


The Volvo V40 T5 Cross Country is comfortable overall and comes reasonably well-specced as standard.

The level of safety is further increased if you opt for the Driver Support Pack (recommended), which was fitted to this test unit. For R32 500, you get Blind Spot Information System (BSIS), cross traffic alert, driver alert system, active high beam, lane keeping aid, adaptive cruise control, pedestrian detection and a rear parking camera. The adaptive cruise control is a great feature, it’s easy to engage and the system effectively reduces driving effort in traffic.

In terms of comfort, the V40 T5 Cross Country is well sorted with full leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control, air conditioning and electric front seats. An optional panoramic glass sunroof (R8 500) was also fitted. The steering wheel is adjustable for rake and reach and has an array of mounted controls.

The optional Premium Pack (R20 000) adds further comfort features such as heated front seats, navigation, keyless entry/start, front and rear parking sensors, adjustable steering feedback, Harman/Kardon sound system and high-level LED headlights with active bending.


We found all these buttons on the centre stack frustrating and distracting to use while driving. 

Our biggest gripe with this V40 T5 Cross Country was the centre stack that’s loaded with far too many buttons. It takes some time to familiarise yourself with all the functionality and we found this setup somewhat fussy to use while driving. The layout gives away the Volvo's age... we can’t wait to see a tablet-like touchscreen (seen in the XC90) make its way into the V40 range when the next-generation arrives. We did find the navigation system easy to use, though.   

Pricing and warranty

The Volvo V40 T5 Cross Country AWD is priced from R530 206 and is sold with a 5-year/100 000 km warranty and 5-year/ 100 000 km maintenance plan.
Our test unit was fitted with R63 350 worth of extra equipment, escalating the total price to R593 556.

Verdict

The Volvo V40 T5 Cross Country is a stylish package that delivers ample power and excellent road manners. The interior is kitted out with all the niceties you could want (although some were admittedly additionally specified) and safety conscious buyers will appreciate the car's safety technology.

However, as a family car, the Cross Country's cramped rear bench and average-sized boot are drawbacks. Although powerful, this derivative also returned higher than expected fuel consumption figures. We also feel the V40 T5 Cross Country is a tad pricey for what is essentially a raised and cladded version of the V40 (albeit with an all-wheel drivetrain). It must be considered, however, that crossover style is a major drawcard in itself and that quality comes at a premium... To that end, the on-point Volvo V40 T5 Cross Country is a well-made, luxurious, safe and powerful offering, which will suit certain buyers to a tee.

Related Volvo content:

Volvo V40 Facelift (2016) First Drive
Volvo V60 Cross Country D4 AWD Inscription Review (2016)
Extended Test: Volvo V60 Cross Country D4 AWD Inscription [Video]
Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine AWD Inscription (2016) Review
Flagship Volvo S90 Pricing Revealed
5 reasons why the Volvo S90 matters
Volvo S90 (2016) First Drive [Video]
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