Tuesday, 26 November 2013

REVIEW - Volvo V40 Cross Country

This is now the third Volvo V40 to grace my presence for review. After I tested the 'regular' V40- in the form of an SE Nav model- I was rather impressed with the car. Then along came the V40 R-Design, and it became only the second car ever to score a perfect 50 in review. So that meant there was only one left for me to test... the rugged, more rural offering of the V40 Cross Country. So was it third time's the charm? Or more 'three's a crowd'? Read on to find out...

Looks - 10/10

I really think that the V40 is a true credit to Volvo's design team. What they got so right is the basic shape of the car. By this I mean even in bog-standard trim the car looks good. And what that has allowed Volvo to do is make exceptional cars purely by add-on cosmetics. Take the R-Design, with its sporty body kit and bigger wheels, it really adds to the shape of the V40, accentuating the sleek, sportiness of its shape. The Cross Country takes a different approach, by focusing on the more rugged aspect of the looks, and highlighting them. With the addition of some plastic on the bumpers and side skirts, it gives a more rural feel to the V40, and is a really effective combination. There's also some gloss black to maintain the classiness and premium feel, and some roof rails to complete the look.

On the inside there's not much to distinguish the Cross Country model. Sure, there are some badges here and there, and the seats
have brown stitching on them, but it's all very much standard Volvo luxury inside the cabin. Not like that's a bad thing. There are several settings on the digital dashboard, the most pleasant of which I found to be 'Elegance'. There is a sporty red one (see pictures) but this just didn't really suit this model. It is nice touches like this, and the mood lighting colour options, that set the V40 apart, and round off that classy feel. As you would expect in a Volvo the materials are top-notch and everything feels well put together too, with the cabin also laid out in a very sensible way.

Handling/Performance - 8/10

Powering my V40 Cross Country was the same D4 diesel engine that starred in the R-Design I reviewed, and so there were no complaints there. In case you didn't catch that review, I'll rattle off the numbers for you again. The 2.0-litre, 5-cylinder diesel offers up 177PS and 400Nm of torque, allowing it to get from 0-62mph in 8.6 seconds and on to a top speed of 130mph. I am a huge fan of this engine, and there will soon be a 4-cylinder replacement which promises equal performance but even better economy, so keep an eye out for that after Christmas.

The handling is fine too. The steering is nice, and the ride comfortable but not overly soft on the bumpier roads. The car feels well balanced and you don't notice the heavy diesel motor through the corners. My problem with the way the V40 drives is that it lacks the rugged feel the exterior visuals portray. It looks like a 'go-anywhere' sort of car, but doesn't feel like one to drive. It felt like all the other V40's, and I know that's hardly a bad thing, but I wanted the 'Cross Country' feel in the drive, not just the looks.

Economy - 10/10

Thanks to stop/start technology and Volvo wizardry, the V40 is remarkably efficient. CO2 emissions for the D4 manual are a mere 117g/km, and combined fuel consumption is 64.2mpg which is fantastic news for keeping running costs down. Road tax will set you back a whole £30 for a year, with a free first year rate. But in case this isn't quite good enough for you, the new D4 engine boasts sub-100g/km CO2 meaning you won't pay road tax at all, and that's even better news for company car drivers who will pay less on their P11d's.

Practicality - 8/10

As with all the V40's, the Cross Country has a spacious boot, loads of room in the cabin to house adults comfortably, and it can be specified with a whole host of technology to make driving easier, safer, and just generally more relaxing. There's the blind-spot information system (BLIS), parallel park assist, reversing camera, collision warning system, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning... the list goes on. But where the Cross Country specifically falls down, and this is partly reflected in the drive, is the lack of AWD option on anything but the T5 petrol. Why this isn't available on, frankly, all models as an option is beyond me. So for all its merits, most of the V40 Cross Country's aren't that cross country after all...

Fun - 7/10

With the way this car looks, heading toward it in a car park or catching its reflection in a shop window will always put a smile on your face. Choose your options wisely and it will never cease to amaze you with what it can do, and you will want to show your friends how your car can practically park itself (although you have to operate the pedals) or how brilliant its cruise control system. And they will undoubtedly be impressed. Until the day when you find yourself on a gravel car parkin the wet or, if you're really unlucky, in a sodden field. At which point they will look at you with bemused faces when you tell them that it isn't in fact AWD, and that when it comes to Cross Country, it's about as sure-footed as a drunken man on stilts. And that's enough to wipe the smile right off your face.

Concluding Remarks 

The V40 Cross Country is a fantastic car, there's no doubt about it. But if you actually need one for any sort of cross country expeditions, don't be fooled by the looks. You can either opt for the T5 to get AWD, or you may need to look elsewhere. If, however, you just like how the V40 Cross Country looks, and the most rural you get is a puddle on the way in to work, then go for it. I said you should pick the options you want very carefully, and I mean it. Get carried away and you could be looking at a seriously expensive motor. The V40 Cross Country D4 Lux Nav will set you back £28,370 in standard guise. However, load the options my test car had and you'll be looking at £34,595 according to the Volvo car configurator. It's easy to get carried away, so pick the options you really need/want. For more information pop into your local dealership, or why not head to the Volvo website where you could configure your own V40 Cross Country. Summing up then, the V40 Cross Country; for those who want luxury with a rugged edge.

Total Score - 43/50

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