Volvo is attempting to attack the luxury compact market with the new Volvo V40 and considering the high standard of the mostly German opposition, the Swedes will have had to produce an exceptional vehicle.
Volvo V40 D2 Elite Review by David TaylorNon-conformist looks are a winner
Looks-wise, I think the Volvo V40 is very attractive. It still has the spunky and uniqueness of the C30 hatchback, yet has elements of maturity that will appeal to older fans of the Volvo brand. If there’s one word to describe the V40’s looks is that it’s interesting. The rear is dominated by some crazy and unorthodox angles and when viewed from the side, looks quite unique.
Small and extremely frugal engine
Powering the Volvo V40 D2 is a 1.6-litre four cylinder turbocharged engine. It has 84kW and 270Nm which isn’t too bad on paper. While it may feel sluggish on pull away due to a small bit of turbo lag, the engine soon comes on song. The real strength of this engine is in-gear acceleration such as when you’re getting onto a highway or trying to overtake when you’re doing 80km/h. It does feel like it runs out of puff after 3500rpm but with this engine, the car doesn’t need to be revved too get the best of it as power is available from low down. Most times I found myself changing gear around the 2800rpm mark and there was still power.
Effortless cruising results in amazing economy
Open cruising is where you’ll find the Volvo V40 D2 to be extremely light on fuel. When I switched on the cruise control at the national speed limit, the vehicle was returning instant figures of 4L/100km – a fantastic result considering the ever-increasing fuel price. The car also features Start/Stop technology and the D2’s engine switches off when you put the car out of gear at the traffic lights. During the test period, my Volvo V40 returned a figure of 6.1L/100km and I’m sure that it would improve over time to under the 5L/100km mark.
Impressive levels of comfort
The drive is quite relaxed and is one of those cars that doesn’t numb your bum after a few hours. Great care has been taken in ensuring that the Volvo V40 is as comfortable and as practical as possible. Despite being marketed as an eco executive luxury car, it has a great chassis and the V40 felt solid and planted on a winding road. The gearbox is solid and slick as you work your way through the ratios. The downside of driving the Volvo V40 enthusiastically is you’ll forget you’re in a diesel and suddenly there’ll be no grunt as the powerband is quite small. Change down a gear and the urge returns.
Pay extra for the Elite model, it’s worth every cent
In terms of specification, the ‘Elite’ trim gets you substantially more cool stuff. Whereas the base model D2 retails for R283 200, your R315 200 may sound excessive but in actual fact, this is what you want. There’s an all-digital dashboard. No more analogue dials as everything is presented to you in a clear and futuristic manner. There are even themes which shift readouts around and add in rich colours. Put it in Sport mode and the main readout shows you the rev counter and speedo in a bright red. Switch to Eco and you’ll see the rev counter be replaced by a big speedo as well as an economical driving indicator appear in a Tron-like eerie green. It’s all very fancy and I love it.
Fully kitted out already but these extras are worth it
As for the other extras for your extra money; there are headlights that turn as you go around a bend, daytime running lights, leather-covered electronically adjustable seats with memory, cruise control, rain-sensitive wipers, rear park assist as well as a better audio system that features streaming. Should you fork out extra for these? Absolutely. Rear park assist is useful as is cruise control.
Near-German levels of quality
In terms of build quality and practicality, the Volvo V40 is impressive. While it may feel a little on the snug side in the back for the tallest of adults, there’s plenty of space for the little ones. The materials used have a distinctly premium feel to them and there’s extensive use of high-quality plastics. You could be fooled into thinking you were in an expensive German vehicle…
Volvo V40 - ConclusionHonestly, this is one of the finest Volvo vehicles in years and the V40 should become a best-seller for the brand. Model-wise, the D2 is a complete package. It combines a distinct upmarket feel, with a thrifty engine, revered Volvo safety features and modern, fresh 21st-century looks. Even though it’s the baby of the range and there are petrol options as well as a more powerful diesel motor, do you honestly need more car?
Volvo V40 - PriceVolvo V40 D2 Elite - R315 200
- Why you should: Looks great, economical, comfortable, impressive specification levels, value for money.
- Why you shouldn’t: It takes time to learn the Volvo quirks, check the options lists carefully – things can work out quite expensive if you get tick-happy.
- It would be better if: The key still looks cheap and nasty after all these years, the vast range of options were trimmed.
- View the Volvo V40: New / Used
- Competitors worth checking out: BMW 1-Series, Audi A3 Sportback, Mercedes-Benz B-Class