Test driving the new Volvo V40

Aug 16, 2015, 08:19 IST | Jim Gorde

The new Volvo V40 combines luxury with top-of-the-chart safety features. Added benefit? It sits easy on your wallet compared to competition

It’s funny how luxury is such a variable term. And, in cars, the split is evident as one between quality and quantity. Yes, a recognised badge on a contemporary design taking up a lane-and-a-half may have acres of space to stretch your legs, but little else. On the other hand, there are smaller, more thoughtful offerings — ones which pack every known creature comfort, class-leading seating and ergonomics, as well as drivelines.

The V40 will take on the likes of the Mercedes A Class and the BMW 1-Series. PICS/Rommel Albuquerque
The V40 will take on the likes of the Mercedes A Class and the BMW 1-Series. Pics/Rommel Albuquerque

The compact luxury segment in particular has some highly variegated offerings. There are sedans, crossovers, and then there are hatchbacks. And, the V40 is Volvo’s offering to the compact luxury hatchback segment.

Globally, more people want a known brand that promises much more than just good motoring. They want the brand, together with greater practicality, more compact dimensions and better efficiency — lower fuel consumption combined with lower emissions.

The cabin of the V40 boasts top notch quality material and high fit and finish levels
The cabin of the V40 boasts top notch quality material and high fit and finish levels

Looking long, wide and very squat, the V40 is attractive, and, while looks are subjective, there are few who will dispute that it is contemporary and desirable. Of course, there are other unique offerings in this price range — the Mercedes A-Class, BMW 1 Series, MINI Cooper and Audi A3 sedan — all of which are renowned for their own reasons. Nevertheless, Volvo has always been known for one simple reason: safety.

The V40 packs safety features in Rs 30-odd lakhs, the likes of which are not seen even in cars that cost four times its price. The radar-assisted automatic braking system, for one, together with the world’s first pedestrian airbag, are just some of these features.

Beneath that svelte Rebel Blue exterior of our test car lies a monocoque chassis, created from a combination of aluminium and steel of various strengths. That safety cell keeps occupants safe and lets them enjoy the Scandinavian luxury inside the cabin. The R-Design trim features several sporty elements which accentuate the R-Design styling. Most noticeable is the panoramic glass roof, which makes the cabin appear airy and roomy.

The black-metal centre console features a brushed aluminium stripe down the side which is pinstriped in Polestar blue. The black leather R-Design seats are supremely comfortable and offer fantastic support. The same, however, cannot be said about the rear with tight leg-room for tall adults and just about enough head-room; it is great for the kids, though. Practicality is a high point with several cubbyholes and storage areas around, and the 335-litre boot can accommodate more luggage than it first seems with the rear hatch’s convex design nicely holding in the cargo. Those curves at the back are more than just good-looking.

The R-Design gets a five-inch screen and high-performance sound system. Sorely lacking, though, is the reverse camera. With a car as wide and low as the V40, it’s a surprising omission, and a crucial bit of equipment that needs to find a place in the specification sheet.

Under the bonnet is the 2.0-litre, five-cylinder turbo-diesel motor from its Cross Country twin. With 150 PS and 350 Nm on tap, the V40 is the most powerful car in its segment; and it shows. The dash from 0 to 100 km/h takes just over nine seconds and the top speed is a genuine 200 km/h. Even with the old six-speed Geartronic automatic driving the front wheels, it feels energetic and ready for sprinting.

It handles extremely well, too. Its 1,575-kg weight with proper distribution keeps it planted even when taking a sweeping corner at 190 km/h. The ESC needs to keep 350 Nm in check — something a 3.5-litre V6 petrol motor usually delivers — and does a fine job of it. Body-roll is non-existent and the V40 can ascribe that to the stiff suspension. The chassis, thankfully, is set up for comfort.

On the economy front, the five-pot returns 10.5 km/litre in the city with the open highway letting it stretch the litre to 14.5 km. It’s quite economical to run and just as affordable to own. With a starting price of Rs 24.75 lakh (ex-Delhi) for the base Kinetic model and Rs 3 lakh more for this R-Design variant, it’s a good proposition for someone looking for an upmarket compact luxury offering which delivers the safety, comfort and many features of cars which, for most part, cost upwards of a crore of rupees.

Competition Check

BMW 118d Sport
Engine: 2.0-litre, in-line four, turbo-diesel
Output: 143 PS, 320 Nm
Weight:  1,420 kg
Price:    Rs 9.5 lakh

Mercedes-Benz A200 CDI Sport
Engine: 2.2-litre, in-line four, turbo-diesel
Output: 136 PS, 300 Nm
Weight: 1,475 kg
Price:    Rs 31.0 lakh

Need to know
Volvo V40          D3 R-Design
Engine              1,984 cc, five-cylinder, in-line, turbocharged, diesel
Max Power        150 PS @ 3,500 rpm
Max Torque       350 Nm @ 1,500-2,750 rpm
Transmission      Six-speed Automatic
Price                Rs 27.7 lakh, ex-showroom, Delhi

MINI Cooper D 5-door
Engine: 1.5-litre, in-line three, turbo-diesel
Output: 115 PS, 270 Nm
Weight: 1,280 kg
Price:    Rs 36.1 lakh

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