Monday, 27 April 2015

REVIEW - Volvo V40 D4 R-Design

The Volvo V40 is amongst an elite club here at Simply Motor; those cars scoring 50/50 don’t come around all that often. And it was in fact the D4 R-Design which did it. Since 2013 when I reviewed that car Volvo has developed engines further and added new features to make their cars even better. So when I got a chance to get behind the wheel of a brand new D4-engined V40 I didn’t hesitate one bit. On paper it would appear that Volvo has gone a long way to improve the V40, so it couldn’t possibly score less than perfect second time around, could it? Well, when are things ever that straightforward?

Looks – 9/10

Not a lot has changed with the appearance of the V40. But that’s hardly a bad thing; it is a marvellous car to look at. The exterior is angular, curvaceous and sleek. The R-Design really brings out the best of the body too; with 17-inch two-tone alloy wheels, twin exhausts and rear diffuser, silver mirrors and a subtle bodykit. Then you notice the little details. There are three washer jets on the bonnet for example; two just aren’t enough it would seem. The shark-fin aerial maintains the sleek lines as well. The daytime running lights are well placed and when coupled to the low nose help give the impression of a sporty car bearing down on you. The rear lights and unusually-shaped tailgate are superb, and the spoiler blends sport and style nicely too.

Inside the standard trim is a half-leather sports interior. All the materials are of the excellent quality you would expect from a Volvo, and built quality feels nothing short of solid. I want to mention the front seats though. On the new R-Design models of other cars- the S60 for example- the front seats have been re-designed to feature much larger side bolsters and feature the R-Design logo embossed on them. In the V40 neither of these are present, and I don’t understand why. I would have liked to see them featured to maintain that sports appeal. The rest of the interior is spot on. The colourful dash, chunky steering wheel, and aluminium pedals are great, and you shouldn’t forget the changeable mood lighting, which allows you to create your own ambiance.

Handling/Performance – 10/10

One of the biggest improvements to the D4 comes with the latest D4 engine itself. The figures speak for themselves. Power is 190PS and 400Nm of torque, which when coupled to the 6-speed manual gearbox is more than enough to haul this car from 0-62mph in 7.4 seconds and on to a top speed of 143mph. This is no longer a 5-cylinder warbler like the Volvo’s of time gone by; the new 2.0-litre, 4 cylinder engine is every bit as good to drive though. Power delivery is smooth and if you stay on the torque curve overtaking is a doddle. And once in 6th gear on the motorway you simply need to poke your right toe to brush other motorists aside.

The handling is spot on as well. Steering is direct and nicely weighted, so you can point the front end exactly where you want it. Cornering ability is excellent, with the V40 staying flat and composed through the bends. You can opt for a sports suspension on the R-Design, but I really don’t think this is necessary. The balance between motorway comfort and A-road handling was perfect with the standard setup. And despite my criticism of the seats earlier they actually do a decent job of holding you upright through the bends. I also liked that the handbrake sits nearer to the passenger; this means once you get pedalling it’s definitely out of your way for reaching to the gearstick.

Economy – 10/10

When I said the biggest improvement on the V40 is the D4 engine itself, the same applies here too. You see as well as the impressive power figures the economy figures are simply staggering. Combined fuel consumption from the D4 is 67.3mpg, which means you’ll find yourself at the petrol pumps less often. CO2 emissions on the manual- even with the sporty R-Design alloys- is 99g/km too which means VED will never cost you a penny. And it becomes an excellent car for company car drivers, because at 17% BIK rate it could save you some money on your P11d as well.

Practicality – 10/10

This is another area in which the V40 excels. The boot is as you would expect in a decent-sized family car, and is both deep and relatively long. You certainly wouldn’t struggle to get your weekly shop in the boot, although for larger items the opening isn’t as big as it could be. In the cabin all passengers get plenty of room, although taller adults may find the back could use a little more. The level of tech available on the V40 means you can have extra peace-of-mind as well. Take the driver support pack. At £1,900 it may seem a little pricey, but for this you basically get a car that doesn’t allow you to crash. There’s adaptive cruise control, collision warning system, active braking and blind spot monitoring which are all very useful features to have, and make the V40 even better to live with.

Fun – 10/10

I really do like the V40, and thanks to an even better engine it now gets more power whilst bettering economy. And that puts a smile on my face right away! The iPod system in any Volvo is, put simply, the best I have ever used. It never once struggles to deal with the 12,000-or-so songs on my iPod and easily allows you to select any track via text search. The handling means you can go nuts on a twisty B-road, and the brilliant engine means when you head back on the motorway it’s relaxing and comfortable. With the optional park pilot the V40 will even stop you from getting annoyed at parallel parking, and is still a rather novel feature to have on a car.

Concluding Remarks

So that’s the Volvo V40 with the latest D4 engine. I still like the styling, albeit I’d prefer the bucketed seats up front. The new D4 engine is an absolute gem which has impressed me in absolutely ever model I’ve tested it in. There’s even an optional 8-speed automatic transmission which maintains the economy but adds more cruising ability to keep revs even lower on the motorway. The V40 represents an excellent choice for company car drivers, but also good value for money to private consumers too. Prices for the V40 D4 R-Design Nav start at £26,545 and for that you get a great car. Think carefully about which options you really need though, because choose too many and you can soon be the wrong side of £30,000 like my test car was. So that’s about all there is to say on it then. The Volvo V40 D4 R-Design; sporty, stylish, splendid.

Total Score – 49/50

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