But these strongly flavoured sports models are not what this V40 are aimed at, which is why the company reckons the model is “almost unique”. Instead, the T5 has been devised for people looking for accessible performance almost lazily delivered, says Volvo, and a subtle car that’s not about status.
Subtle it may be, but it’s hardly slow, serving 6.3sec 0-62mph sprints and a 149mph top speed. Standard kit highlights include reconfigurable TFT instruments, leather trim, lowered R-Design suspension, 17-inch alloys, sat-nav and active-bending xenon headlights – not an especially generous count at this price.
What's it like?
That the V40 is front- rather than four-wheel drive is immediately evident if you flatten the throttle, the V40’s nose snaking with an inebriation of torque. Four-wheel drive would tame that, and you can have it with the slightly pricier 251bhp T5 Cross Country.
Despite this it’s easy to control, especially as the torque steer soon eases as the transmission works through its many ratios. Back off and you’ll enjoy an engine that’s fairly quiet unless you rev it, this activity likely to provoke nostalgia for the (much thirstier) five-pot, this four sounding very ordinary despite its 242bhp.
The T5 handles with a tidy lack of drama, its secure grip and the weight of its steering generating a reassuringly Volvo-like aura of security. But lowered suspension or not, the T5 is not a car that invites you to fling it at bends, its dynamic character too subdued for that.
The choice of sports suspension for this more comfort-oriented performance model is curious – although it rarely turns uncomfortable, choppy roads produce the same result inside, undermining the lopingly potent character this car might otherwise present. Its potential civility is further undermined by the hum of road noise on many surfaces.
Should I buy one?
Volvo reckons that less than one percent of V40 buyers will choose this model – that’s about 200-300 buyers. Yet the idea of a comfortingly powerful, highly refined and subtly finished V40 has some appeal, particularly with its Volvo branding.
Trouble is, there’s not enough of the necessary refinement to convincingly play this role, even though this car is an easy drive. Couple that to an unexceptional equipment count and a price that seems too high, especially against the value offered by the more sporting alternatives mentioned earlier, and that low sales forecast seems wise.
The V40 is more appealing and a better buy when you spend less on it, but if you want a range-topper, the all-wheel-drive Cross Country makes a shrewder choice.
Volvo V40 T5 Geartronic R-Design Lux Nav
Price £31,715; 0-62mph 6.3sec; Top speed 149mph; Economy 47.9mpg; CO2 137g/km; Kerb weight 1583kg; Engine 4cyls, 1969cc, twin-turbocharged, petrol; Power 242bhp at 5500rpm; Torque 258lb ft between 1800-4800rpm; Gearbox 8-speed automatic