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New super-frugal turbodiesel lifts Volvo’s just-updated V40 towards the top of the class
Steve Cropley Autocar
19 June 2014

What is it?

Volvo is unveiling the first version of its best-selling V40 hatch to be powered by one its all-new Drive-E modular engine family – the 190bhp D4 diesel – and we’ve been driving it in Sweden.

The car, impressive for its performance, is even more outstanding for its clean air statistics: it emits just 99g/km of CO2, a class-beating output more akin to a 1.6-litre diesel producing 70-80bhp less.

The Drive-E D4 goes on sale this month alongside a high-performance petrol turbo version, the 245bhp Drive-E T5. The pair will lead a lightly revised 2015 V40 line-up that comes minor frontal changes, an optional glass sunroof plus upgrades to its navigation and infotainment systems.

Eventually Volvo will offer eight petrol and diesel versions of its 2.0-litre engine family across its model line-up, stretching in power output from 120bhp to 230bhp for oil burners, and 140bhp to over 300bhp for the petrol engines.

In Volvo's brave new world, all new models for the near to mid-term will be powered by four-cylinder engines  although the company's new powertrain chief, Michael Fleiss, does not rule out the future development of some 1.5-litre three-cylinder models that use the same engine architecture.

What's it like?

In an exclusive drive near Volvo headquarters in Gothenburg, Autocar was able to test the V40 D4 in a new eight-speed automatic guise. That car emits just 109g/km of CO2, 10g/km more than the six-speed manual likely to take the lion’s share of sales.

In Belgium and Holland, there will also be a stripped-out, skinny-tyred version that produces only 85g/km. By comparison, Volvo's own less powerful (150bhp) 2.0-lite D3 auto produces 136g/km, regarded as par for the course.

Volvo engineers attribute the new efficiency of the new engine family to a very successful bowl-in-piston cylinder head design and induction technology, developed with Denso, dubbed i-ART, that incorporates individual fuel pressure sensors in each injector for the first time (instead of one less accurate central sensor in the fuel rail). The refinement promotes better fuel metering and timing, thus better combustion, which in turn makes the engine more efficient and refined.


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The new engine in our D4 test car certainly produced the promised turn of speed, accelerating from 0-60mph in 6.8sec. But even more impressive is its refinement and smooth power.

Often, when drifting along in traffic the engine will idle down to 1500rpm, because low-end torque is so plentiful and throttle response so reliable. If quick pick-up is needed it drops a couple of ratios and goes without delay — still quietly.

At the cruise, its tall top gearing meant we rarely saw more than a creamy 3000rpm, though Sweden's strictly speed-limited roads are hardly the place to push any 140mph car to the outer limits of its speed envelope.

The V40 D4 delivers a level of polished performance that eludes most four cylinder 2.0-litre diesels, probably just as well because, with options, its early £35,000 price is well above the mainstream. On the other hand, buyers get a car whose looks, comfort, tax efficiency and performance cream most of the competition.

Should I buy one?

Why not? It’s a great-looking car and you’re buying spectacular economy, too. We weren't able to run accurate tests, but the manual gearbox car’s combined mpg figure of 74.3mpg plus its amazingly low CO2 output – not to mention its obvious frugality on our 200-mile Swedish drive – promise real-world returns close to 60mpg.

Sure, it’s pricey, but you’re bound to save on fuel. And that’s before they link these powertrains into plug-in hybrid models, a move that is surely coming. Volvo is suddenly setting a pace with performance-versus-economy that even some of the big boys will find too hot to touch.

Volvo V40 D4 Drive-E auto

Price £27,770; 0-60mph 7.0sec; Top speed 143mph; Economy 67.3mpg (combined); CO2 109g/km; Kerb weight 1474kg; Engine type, cc 4 cyls, in-line, turbodiesel, 1969cc; Power 188bhp at 3500rpm; Torque 295lb ft at 1750-2500rpm; Gearbox eight-speed automatic



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19 June 2014
Looks like this transmission in an SPA platform car will be a winner and a real alternative to the German premium brands.

19 June 2014
Looks like Auto transmissions have come of age, 8 gears here get a mid size car with 188 hp to 60 in 7.0 secs, mercedes have gone down the same route with a 9 gear'ed auto. Whose gonna be the first into double figures or has it already be done????
As a footnote the Audi are lagging on the A3 with just 7!

19 June 2014
Volvo doing something worthwhile with their rather likable but slightly under-rated (possibly due to high purchase price) V40.

19 June 2014
A BMW fitted with the ZF 8 speed box is more economical and emits less CO2 than a 6 speed manual, so why does this emit more? Otherwise this sounds life a very impressive new engine, shame about the price though.

30 June 2014
Will86 wrote:

A BMW fitted with the ZF 8 speed box is more economical and emits less CO2 than a 6 speed manual, so why does this emit more? Otherwise this sounds life a very impressive new engine, shame about the price though.

The BMW autobox may emit less than the manual, but its still dirtier than the V40 in either manual or auto mode, however in the real world the BMW emits 110g/km CO2 on its standard tyres and 121 on its optional tyres, and we all know that every one buys the big alloys, because the media tells them to.

19 June 2014
@ xxxx, VW are about to release a 10 speed dsg.

Otherwise, its a great engine to pull off those figures. But if they cant get an 8 speed auto to at least match the figures of the manual somethings wrong. BMW seem to manage it.

Just waiting for you know whos glowing response to this article, suprised he has not already done so.

19 June 2014
I think Volvos gearbox is manufactured by Aisin. The BMW gearbox by ZF. So I had a look at their respective websites about their 8 speed auto transmissions... it was totally beyond me. Lol. maybe the zf gearbox has Hydralic impulse oil storage which the Aisin doesnt. apparently it gives an extra 5% fuel efficiency. I think the answer is something very technical only an engineer would understand. It isnt simply a case of 8 speeds or more gears = more efficiency.

19 June 2014
winniethewoo wrote:

it was totally beyond me. Lol.

You and me both. I understand most of the workings of a car reasonably well but gearboxes are still something of a mystery to me. So perhaps I shouldn't be so fast to criticise the Volvo gearbox!

19 June 2014
Quite how BMW get torque converter autos to match/better the efficiency of a manual is something of a mystery.

Still an impressive result for Volvo, especially since most sales will be manual anyway.

I'm getting quite excited to see what the new XC90 will be like with this powertrain.

19 June 2014
I am sure the main difference in official economy and CO2 comparing auto's and manuals is how the test is done. A manual has specific change points on the test where as a car with an auto is put into drive, and left to change where it wants. In the real world i would always expect an auto to use a little more fuel, but they are much better these days. Either way, the Volvo test results are very impressive for a quick car


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