Volvo has arrived at a five-door format for the V40 by trial and error. It previously thought the S40 four-door saloon was the answer. Later, it looked to the three-door-only C30. Now it seems to have adopted segment convention for a 4.4m family hatch, but only with the begrudging reluctance you’d expect of a company used to going its own way.
With an underbody made of hot-formed and boron alloy steel, the V40 is slightly larger than the Audi A3 Sportback and BMW 1 Series – although an overall height of less than 1.45m gives it a more sleek, sporting profile than, say, the Volkswagen Golf. The V40 range was expanded to include a more rugged model - the Cross Country - similar to the Golf Alltrack, Skoda Octavia Scout or the Infiniti QX30.
Like every other Volvo for decades, the V40 has a transversely mounted engine, providing more passenger space and better crash deformation than a longitudinal one. Four-cylinder turbo petrol and diesel units are offered, almost all with lightweight aluminium construction and all driving the front wheels only, except for the range-topping Cross Country model which comes with Volvo's all-wheel drive system
A model expected to play a sizeable role in the V40’s UK sales mix is the is a mid-range 148bhp D3 turbodiesel. The cleanest engine in the V40 line-up - the 118bhp 2.0-litre D2 oil-burner - as well as a 188bhp D4. Buyers can also choose between a 120bhp, 148bhp and 242bhp 2.0-litre petrols, and while those wanting an automatic T2 and T3 models get a 1.5-litre petrol engines providing the same output as its bigger capacity rangemate.
Suspension is by MacPherson struts at the front and multi-links at the rear. A sports pack is optional, lowering the ride height by 10mm and increasing the spring and damper rates. Our car was so equipped.
But it’s the V40’s active safety systems that really set it apart from the class. It’s the first car in the world with an underbonnet pedestrian airbag, and it comes with Volvo’s City Safety low-speed crash avoidance system as standard. Spend £1850 on the Driver Support Pack and you’ll also get a car with a full-speed collision warning and crash avoidance system, as well as pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, blindspot monitoring, road sign information and driver alertness monitoring systems. Seven airbags also feature.
The 2016 facelift, chiefly revolved around numerous optional additions including eight new alloy wheel designs and five colour choices, while the V40 gets a redesigned front grille and Volvo's 'Thor' shaped day-running lights which made its debut on the XC90.