What is it?
The Volvo V40 T5 is a car that Volvo’s UK marketing department describes as eclectic and unique in its class. Both are true. What we have here is the most potent version of the appealing V40 hatchback, equipped with a 242bhp petrol turbo version of the company’s all-new Drive-E motor.
The T5 designation might have you thinking that this is a sonorous five cylinder, but instead it’s the company’s all-new fuel-saving four-pot, available only with an eight-speed automatic.
And there’s your clue to the nature of this beast, which despite its athletic R-Design styling is what used to be known as an executive express – a fast, well-kitted car that’s about effortlessly brisk cruising rather than bulls-eyeing bends.
There are premium hatches offering comparable power for the price, but all are decisively more sporting. Among them are Audi’s £31,265 296bhp S3 sportback Quattro, and Mercedes’ £30,910 A250 AMG 4-matic. And though it’s far more of a driver’s car, it’s hard to ignore the excellent three-door BMW M135i at £31,375. Especially since the two-wheel drive Volvo costs slightly more than all three, and does without the all-wheel drive of the Audi and Merc.
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.