From £18,7408
A short drive up the famous Goodwood hill reveals the massive potential of Volvo's new petrol engine

Our Verdict

Volvo V40
The new Volvo V40 is the Swedish firm's sleek and sporty-looking answer to the VW Golf, A3 Sportback and BMW 1-series

Volvo tilts at the hatchback elite and aims to woo business drivers

What is it?

The most powerful petrol unit in Volvo's new range of hotter engines, badged under its Drive-E family. 

We've already rated the updated V40 highly when coupled with the new D4 diesel powerplant, so this is Volvo's chance to prove that it can accomplish the same feat of extracting impressive performance while maintaining super-frugal emissions from a petrol variant.

Our test route comprised the famous hill climb course at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. We tried one of two of the new V40 models to have so far arrived in the UK. Alongside the D4 model we've already tested it's the first V40 to be powered by one of Volvo's own modular engines.

The T5 is only available coupled with an eight-speed automatic transmission, which seems to suits its nature. In plush R-Design Lux Nav trim, our test car also came equipped with Volvo's integrated navigation system and posh leather sports seats.

The car costs £31,900, but a long list of options including Volvo's Driver Support Pack – which includes safety systems like collision assistance and adaptive cruise control – heated front seats and steering wheel, rear parking camera and a panoramic sunroof raised the total cost of our model to £39,050.

For that price, this Volvo needs to be able to compete with the best premium hatchbacks on the market, namely the Audi A3 and BMW 1-series.

What's it like?

Based on our short drive, superbly capable. 

Waiting in line for the start of our run up the hill, it was impressive just how quiet the T5 engine is. It feels smooth as we pull up to the line, and as the marshall lifts his hand for the off there's a surge of acceleration after a slight – but noticeable – pause as the eight-speed transmission selects its first gear. This car can reach 60mph in six seconds, faster than a 1.8-litre TFSI Audi A3 quattro and just quicker than the BMW 118i Sport.

The engine doesn't feel hurried though and even as it approaches the red line it doesn't sound particularly strained. The automatic transmission does a good job of selecting the right gear, and in Sport mode there's a noticeable decrease in cog-change speed. We'd like to see wheel-mounted paddle shifters added as standard, just like you'll find in the new V60 Polestar, rather than as an option - and without them the manual override seems a little pointless. Fortunately, the gearing seems to be well spaced and the car is rarely lost for pace.

At the end of the run – in considerably more time than Nick Heidfeld's record-breaking climb in 1999 – the V40 settles down to an idle, coasting happily along at close to 1500rpm.

In terms of handling, the V40 feels agile but never unsettled. Its electrically assisted steering is light and accurate, and despite clocking in at 1447kg (52kg heavier than the BMW and 120kg more than the Audi) it moves along the road with polished ease. In short, it feels exactly as a premium hatchback should to drive.

Should I buy one?

Absolutely. This is a premium Volvo with a newly refined engine, and even after a short drive we're confident the Swedish car maker is on to a winner. There's more good news, too, because Volvo eventually wants to replace its entire bought-in engine line-up with Drive-E units.

For your money you'd be getting a well-equipped, good-looking and economical car. Volvo says the new model can achieve up to 47.9mpg on a combined cycle – and up to 58.9mpg on the motorway – coupled with C02 emissions of 137g/km.

There are very few drawbacks. You could find fault with an interior which, while feeling solid and well made, is beginning to look a little aged. Swap that button-festooned centre console and display for a touchscreen and the Volvo V40 could become a class-leading hatchback.

Volvo V40 Drive-E T5

Price £31,900; 0-62mph 6.3sec; Top speed 149mph; Economy 47.9mpg; CO2 137g/km; Kerb weight 1447kg; Engine 4 cyls, 1969cc, twin-turbocharged, petrol; Power 242bhp at 5500rpm; Torque 258lb ft at 1250-4800rpm; Gearbox 8-spd automatic

Join the debate

Comments
11

30 June 2014
what odd comparison cars. BMW 125i competitor surely. This has 221hp. Its blindingly obvious a 118i with 172hp is going to be slower than this Volvo which has 245hp. Audi doesnt have a car with a similar amount. Its either 180hp or 296hp. Also this car only has 4, not 5 cylinders. Also, you pay nowhere near list for this. Considering the discounts of around 15% off list I have seen on the web, I would guess it could be had similarly specced for around 33k.

30 June 2014
That would be downhill with foot removed from thottle pedal

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

30 June 2014
I tagree with winniethewoo, however the Volvo would be better compared to the M135i. My nice spec 3 door auto/pro media came in at 32.5k. (38k list) The Volvo wouldn't see which way it went and the Audi rides and handles like a front loaded shopping trolly!

marineboy

30 June 2014
yeah its odd. Volvo arent stupid... no way could this compare to an M135i. Did you get a special deal on yours, or was it pre-registered? Its unlike BeeEm to give such a wacking great discount on a totally new car, well at least it was when I was sniffing BMW dealerships around 4 years ago. They were like... if its a 7 series we could help you... otherwise its either floor mats and a few hundred quid off or you can get a nearly new pre registered demo car if you want a bigger discount.

30 June 2014
Quite impressive stats on the paper. An 8-speed auto churning out this much power and emissions sounds good and while the price is questionable, the V40 looks much larger on the outside than both the A3 and the 1-Series.

30 June 2014
The V40T5 is a competitor for the BMW 125i 5 door, not the 118i (which is over a second slower 0-60). The 125i 5 door is also quoted by BMW as 1450kg actually making it 3 kg heavier than the the V40, The 125i also produced more CO2 (148 vs 137). Still almost right I suppose

1 July 2014
After informing our local dealer, Batemans Lindale, of the 4.5-5k discount available from drivethedeal/buyacar, they offered 5k+ if we signed up the next day, which we did. Ordered to our spec, delivered 8 weeks later. Great multi purpose car; baby 5 series in Eco-pro, C63/RS4/M3/911worrier in Sport+.

marineboy

1 July 2014
... is reflected in the prices, while the engines as such appear very impressive. Volvo probably will be selling cars with the older engine tech for some time still on cheaper models. While sales of more expensive models are paying for the development costs.

2 July 2014
almost 40 grand as tested for what is effectively a tarted up Ford Focus. Im sorry but is it only me thinking that the reviewer has lost all sense of perspective recommending that potential buyers do anything other than walk away. Insanity.. £40K ! £40 K !!! for a Volvo .. the world has lost its marbles...

2 July 2014
A 1 bed 500sqft flat in Central London is £400K minimum, £1M in premium areas. I find that far more outrageous.

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