Safety is now a real selling point. However with many manufacturers now using their safety standards as a key selling point Volvo needed to offer more than just safe cars, so now words like driving dynamics, economy, emissions and performance are as much a part of Volvo’s sales literature as their world class standards of safety engineering.
Like all marketeers, Volvo’s marketing people hope that by attracting a younger audience to the brand they will generate brand loyalty which will follow on with those people moving up the range as their family and lifestyle changes.
The new V40 then is a premium hatchback to rival the likes of the BMW 1 series, Audi A3 or indeed main streamers like the Ford Focus upon which its chassis and suspension is based. The new R Design version adds a more unique and sporty character to the range. It comes with its own special colour options and has some great added specification.
My test car was finished in a somewhat garish “RebelBlue”. Well it will certainly get you noticed!
The style is sleek and elegant and during my tenure managed to get quite a few admiring glances. The front end echoes the Volvo family line with the traditional Volvo grille while the whole shape looks low and aerodynamic.
Slip inside and you will find a cabin that is no less impressive than the exterior. It is roomy and the car will seat four adults in comfort though the low sloping roofline does restrict rear headroom for tall passengers. The boot is just adequate rather than generous in size. The mix of digital and analogue instrumentation is all new and despite containing rather too much information (do i really need a power meter?) it all works very well. The multi-function steering wheel, and very neat centre console, with that unique storage space behind it all gel very well together.
The driving position is excellent, with height adjustment for both front seats.
Standard equipment is equally impressive. The 1.6 litre 115 bhp D2 diesel engine proved flexible with plenty of torque.
Overall performance is good. It pulls very well in every gear and the 6-speed gearbox is absolutely superb, light with a short change.
Fuel economy is equally good burning just 5.8 litres per 100 km over my weeks test. Emissions are just 94g/km and road tax therefore is low at only €180.00 per year.
Once again this car really impressed. The lowered chassis on the R Design is tweaked by Volvo but borrowed from the Ford Focus. No wonder then it handles so well. It’s nimble, agile and precise to drive, with razor sharp steering and surefooted grip whether in the wet or dry.
The other area that impressed so much is the refinement. The new V40 R Design is ultra silent even when cruising at high speed. There is virtually no wind noise, and just about no engine noise unless accelerating.
Prices for Volvos first foray into the premium hatch market start at €29,095. The V40 R Design costs just €1,000 more which is really great value at €30,095. The new Volvo V40 R Design is one of the better new cars I have tested. If you want a premium hatch that offers a distinctive style and driving dynamics that bring a smile buy the V40 R Design.
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