From £18,7407
The Volvo V40 has received a mid-life facelift. Is it enough to keep it competitive against premium hatchback rivals?

Our Verdict

Volvo V40

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

What is it?

You might not believe it at first glance but this is the updated version of the V40, Volvo’s answer to the Audi A3 Sportback and BMW 1 Series.

So what’s new? Externally, you get the choice of eight new alloy wheel designs, five new body colours and a new grille with an updated Volvo badge. Most noticeably, Volvo’s LED ‘Thor’s Hammer’ headlights now feature, too. 

No matter which of the new trim levels you go for (Momentum, Inscription or R-Design), those lights are standard, making this the first car in the segment to get such technology across the range. We’ve tried the petrol-powered T3 in sporty R-Design trim.

What's it like?

The revised V40 will be familiar to those who knew it before its nip and tuck. Considering the model's popularity, it could be argued that this was the safest option. In the case of our test car, you still get the same 150bhp from the 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol motor, which is enough for adequately brisk performance.

Thanks to an architecture derived from the Ford Focus, there is a multi-link independent rear end that helps the V40 to handle pretty tidily. Roll is well contained and any understeer is dealt with smartly by a lift of the throttle. It’s not outright fun but it’s more enjoyable than you might think.

The steering acts precisely, with weighting that may feel heavy to some but gives a feeling of heft that seems in keeping with a Volvo's character. Certainly, it isn’t a chore to twirl the wheel, even at parking speeds. As you might expect, though, it’s not a particularly talkative rack. Likewise, the gearshift is slick and easy but nothing to savour.

There is, however, a big problem with how the V40 drives. The ride in our R-Design test car, running on 17in wheels, felt unsettled. No matter how smooth the road appeared, you always felt yourself moving up and down in your seat. At least it never banged or crashed, even over the worst bumps.

Inside, you still get plenty of high-quality materials, comfortable seats and Volvo’s quirky floating centre console. Unfortunately, this just means you can’t see what you’ve stashed in the cubbyhole behind it. The infotainment screen is also a little small and the vertically mounted dial control takes some getting used to.

During our drive, we struggled with the closely set cluster of buttons on the centre console, including an old-school telephone dial pad. With various menu shortcuts spread around these buttons, we often found ourselves having to look to see the thing we wanted to select. Considering the XC90 shows how good a Volvo infotainment system can be, it's disappointing a similar system wasn't used here. That'll have to wait for the next-generation V40. 

This V40 also trades practicality for style. The curving roofline makes head room tight for anyone approaching six-foot tall and the boot is considerably smaller than that of an Audi A3. At least rear leg room is  pretty generous for adults. 

Should I buy one?

If you were thinking of buying a V40, there’s now even more reason to do so. Although the changes aren’t ground-breaking, this car remains likable in many ways.

For all that, though, it’s falling even further behind in this constantly evolving class. An Audi A3 Sportback is better still, and it's a car that's just had a far more comprehensive facelift in time for summer. It’s a shame, then, that the V40 hasn't been more thoroughly reworked.

Volvo V40 T3 R-Design

Location Oxfordshire; On sale Now; Price £24,695; Engine 4 cyls, 1969cc, turbo, petrol; Power 150bhp at 5000rpm; Torque 184lb ft at 1300-4000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 1417kg; Top speed 130mph; 0-62mph 7.8sec; Economy 51.4mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 127g/km, 22%

Join the debate

Comments
11

db

16 June 2016
I had a V40 d2 and found it frustrating in there is a great car trying to get out with real character and good looks much better than the usual German suspects. I would agree that the ride comfort is like a hyperactive child and only settles down if there is a load in the boot if you can get it in the ridiculously shaped opening. The handling was great as was the perceived quality and seat comfort. As with German brands the perceived quality is only a perception and not a reality so as with the Audi's and BMW's I have had in the past I got to know the service team way too well (there is a reason premium brands have nice show rooms with calming nice coffee and meeting areas)I am now back driving a Mazda which is infinitely better than the lot of them it may lack in perceived quality but delivers on real quality which means comfort, reliability great handling engine and gear change.

16 June 2016
Old man goes to buy a V40 manual, only wants a modest amount of power so a small low power engine would suffice. Is offered a 2.0 Turbo(122ps about the same a 1.4 VW) as it's the smallest manual petrol engine for the V40. Come on Volvo think ahead, you're so far behind. As to the outdated dash design, this has to be the most dangerous and therefore bad design I've seem for some time.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

20 June 2016
Fortunately Volvo are on the ball as the recently introduced Drive-E 2.0 petrol engine is modular and a 1.5 3 cylinder will appear across the Volvo range. Autocar tested an XC40 with this engine early last year. Not bad for such a small company.

16 June 2016
I'd like this one tested, 1417 kg and just 150hp but still hits 62 in 7.8???

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

16 June 2016
Volvo V40 rear headroom. 36.7 inches. Mention of it being tight for people over 6 feet tall. Tesla Model S rear headroom. 35.3 inches. Not a peep about poor rear headroom, nevermind the fact they are supposed to be two or three size classes apart.

16 June 2016
I've test driven the V40 on two occasions and in both cases I found the car claustrophobic. One I drove was dark because of the blacked out windows as well as the interior. I also found that I kept on banging my head when I tried to get into the car. The Cross Country was a little better. The testers here are lucky to have found are petrol model. I'd decided to switch to petrol from diesel but was unable to find a petrol S60 or V60 demonstrator - I phoned agents in Bristol (near where I live), Cardiff, Swansea and Gloucester. In the end I called Volvo UK who told me they don't own the agencies. They were very sympathetic but couldn't suggest an agency which might have petrol engined cars. I bought an Audi Q3 1.4 in the end.

16 June 2016
Good choice. Nice car.

16 June 2016
I had one of the in Lanzarote for the week - a 1.6 diesel poweshift auto.

I quite liked it did indicated 50+ mpg and was comfortable. Few shabby plastics around in lower parts.

17 June 2016
Very much a holding model till they can get the V40.2 out in a couple of years. Bet they can't wait to move away from those Ford underpinnings that must be costing them a fortune in licensing, as well as limiting the car's dynamics.

18 June 2016
Not that it really matters but sorry, I can't believe time quoted for 0-60 with that fairly limited power output, the weight & more importantly the not particularly substantial torque figure. More likely to be in high 8's, mid 9's seconds.

Nice car though.

"Power 150bhp at 5000rpm;
Torque 184lb ft at 1300-4000rpm;
Kerb weight 1417kg;
0-62mph 7.8sec;"

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Kia Stonic
    First Drive
    18 October 2017
    Handsome entrant into the bulging small crossover market has a strong engine and agile handling, but isn’t as comfortable or complete as rivals
  • Hyundai Kona
    First Drive
    18 October 2017
    Hyundai's funky-looking Kona crossover with a peppy three-cylinder engine makes all the right noises for the car to be a success in a crowded segment
  • Citroën C3 Aircross
    First Drive
    17 October 2017
    The Citroen C3 Aircross has got funky looks and a charming interior, but it's another small SUV, and another dynamic miss. Numb steering is just one thing keeping it from class best
  • Skoda-Karoq 2.0 TDI 4x4
    First Drive
    16 October 2017
    Diesel version of Skoda’s junior SUV is unobtrusive and undemanding, but we’d still go for the silkier petrol version of the Karoq
  • Audi Q7 e-tron
    First Drive
    16 October 2017
    Expensive and flawed but this understated diesel-electric Audi Q7 has a lot to offer