You’d think that of all the posh car brands building a rival to the safe, sturdy, sensible VW Golf, it should be Volvo. But no: for years, Volvo has missed the premium five-door hatch target, giving us small saloons, small estates and small three-door coupes instead. By the law of averages, it was bound to stumble across a winning recipe at some point: the launch of the five-door V40 hatch is it.
This is a vital car for the brand. It’s intended to be a step up for Golf buyers, for those who don’t want the flash of an Audi A3 or BMW 1-Series. On looks alone, it’s there: this is a rather foxy-looking Volvo, and even the bonnet has been kept low and sporty thanks to the trick addition of a pedestrian airbag. Underneath, there’s a Volvo-ised version of the fine Ford Focus platform, plus a range of engines that shame even Bluemotion Golfs for efficiency. There’s no doubting the potential it possesses.
DESIGN AND STYLE ;
This newly launched hatchback inherits the aerodynamic silhouette of the company, which makes it look stunning from all round. It borrows the body structure and chassis along with several exterior cosmetics of the luxury Cross Country, but misses out in terms of rugged features. This hatch has a dual tone rear bumper, while its front one is in body color. There is a small air intake section on the front bumper accompanied by LED DRLs. The radiator grille has a thin chrome surround and is complimented by a company emblem positioned in the center. Another attractive aspect is the headlight cluster with projector lamps along with black accents, which adds to its bold appeal. Not to forget that the expressive slanting forward bonnet is another aspect that emphasizes its aerodynamic stance. On the other hand, the R-Design trim gets a fixed panoramic sunroof as standard. At the same time, there are metallic accents on the A pillars, which can be seen from the frontage. This hatchback has a stylish side facet owing to its low stance and bigger fenders. This exclusive trim also gets a special set of alloy wheels as part of R-Design package. While the door handles along with ORVM caps have been painted in body color. However, the top end version gets the outside mirrors in a glossy non-body color that emphasizes its exclusivity. This vehicle has a unique rear facet thanks to the glossy black finishing on its tailgate embedded with ‘VOLVO’ lettering. Enhancing this swanky stance is the taillight cluster that has an attractive lighting pattern featuring LEDs.
COMFORT AND SPACE ‘
The Volvo V40 hatchback comes with a stunning aerodynamic silhouette that is a signature of the company. There is a small air intake section on the front bumper accompanied by LED DRLs. It gets a bold glossy black radiator grille with a thin chrome surround which is complimented by the company emblem. The car gets noteworthy projector headlights with black accents to add to the bold looks. The car has a hard to miss expressive slanting bonnet enhancing its debonair stance. The R-Design variant also offers a fixed panoramic sunroof and an exclusive set of stylized alloy wheels. The car looks absolutely stunning with the metallic accents on it’s A pillars, stylish side profile bigger fenders and a low racy stance. While the regular trim gets body colored door handles and ORVM caps, the top end model trim gets its wing mirrors painted in a glossy non-body color to look exclusive. The vehicle’s rear design is also unique with its tail gate painted in glossy black color and embossed ‘VOLVO’ logo. The swanky car looks more attractive with its stylized LED taillights and distinctive chrome dual exhaust pipes.
ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE ;
The Volvo V40 gets the same diesel engine as the Cross Country. The 2.0-litre 5-cylinder turbo diesel produces 150 HP at 3500 RPM and 350 Nm of torque at 1500-2750 RPM. There is some lag under 1800 RPM but post that, there is an unadulterated surge of torque, which makes it a seriously fast car. You can imagine the thrust of 350 Nm torque on a hatchback this size. There is no flat spot as the V40 continues to accelerate until the 5000 RPM redline. The 5-pot motor is loud at higher revs but doesn’t sound crude. Refinement is good and NVH is kept well under control.
Mated to this engine is a 6-speed automatic transmission that is butter smooth at part throttle inputs. Once you give it the beens there is a slight pause between shifts but not too annoying. There are no paddle shifts, which would have been quite fun on this hot hatch. There is a manual mode though and a Sport mode too for having fun. The regular D mode is efficiency oriented and shifts early but slot into the ’S’ mode and the throttle response is instant and gear changes happen near the redline. The motor also feels good for relaxed cruising. At 100 km/hr in top gear, the engine hovers around 1800 RPM, slight dab on the throttle is good enough for overtaking trucks on the highways. The Volvo V40 will provide you with decent efficiency of 11 km/l in the city that can stretch up to 13 km/l on the highways.
RIDE AND HANDLING ;
The V40 is a delight to drive on the streets thanks to her agile underpinnings. Chassis balance is sublime and the ride is firm, without really being back-breaking. You do however, have to crab over cautiously on our nasty speed breakers and watch out for potholes – for the low ground clearance (133mm) will hurt your heart & bank balance if you get complacent.
Safety features are carried over from the previous model, but that’s not something you should be worried about, as safety is an intrinsic part of Volvo’s DNA. The updated V40 comes with IntelliSafe, City Safety collision avoidance technology, Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake and Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection, Blind Spot Information System, Lane Keeping Aid and Cross Traffic Alert, Road Sign Information technology, and Adaptive Cruise Control. The V40 also uses a pedestrian airbag system, an industry first at the time of its introduction in 2012. When impact occurs, the section of the engine hood that’s closest to the windscreen is released and elevated by the deployment of the airbag. The inflated airbag covers the area under the raised hood, around one-third of the windscreen, and the lower section of the A-pillar. The system is designed to help reduce the severity of pedestrian injuries in the event of an unfortunate accident.
Volvo expects V40 buyers to largely comprise existing luxury sedan and SUV owners looking for an additional car. These buyers will immediately feel at home in a V40 because of how solidly engineered, well-equipped and comfortable it is. Those not hell-bent on a hot hatch will also be more than satisfied with the way it drives. And thanks to the way it looks, the V40 can even rival an A-class on star appeal. True, the engine can sound gruff and the ride is on the firmer side, but the other traits of the charming V40’s do make up for this