If you’re drawn to the V40 by Volvo’s reputation for practical, comfortable transport, you’ll probably be quietly impressed by what you find. That it doesn’t lead the class on space is perhaps a slight shame, but it’s not a major surprise, given the car’s average outward dimensions.
The V40 offers passenger accommodation levels and usable boot space that’s as generous as the most practical hatchbacks in most dimensions, but no better.
But the air of simplicity and unpretentiousness that characterises the cabin is much more appealing than its sheer size. This is a car entirely devoted to everyday use. The driver’s seat is mounted a little higher than we’d like, but it’s where it is to grant excellent all-round visibility.
The outer rear seats are mounted slightly further inboard than the hatchback norm, providing a better view forwards and more shoulder and elbow room for occupants three and four. The fifth seat is slightly compromised, but how often do you actually carry five?
In the front, the primary ergonomics are excellent and the materials solid but entirely unostentatious. Liquid crystal instruments provide excellent legibility in any light. And although we’re not sure about the usefulness of the ‘eco guide’ economy meter, which simply reminds you how much throttle you’re using most of the time, the set-up reeks of good sense.
We like the full-length optional glass roof and practical touches like the drained ice scraper recess in the driver’s door. We also like the generous cupholders. This is unquestionably one of the most usable hatchbacks on the road.
There are four trim levels to choose from - Momentum, Inscription, R-Design and R-Design Pro, while there are two trim levels for the more rugged Cross Country version. Opt for the entry-level Momentum trim, you'll find LED headlights, 16in alloy wheels, rear spoiler, numerous Volvo safety systems, while inside occupants get climate control, lumbar support for the front passengers and a 5.0in touchscreen infotainment system complete with DAB radio and Bluetooth.
Upgrade to the Inscription trim and you get a leather upholstery, 17in alloys, cruise control, parking sensors and a 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system complete with sat nav, while the R-Design models get numerous sporty exterior and interior details, bigger alloys and low profile tyres.
The range-topping R-Design Pro comes with leather bound sports seats, automatic wipers and lights, and an uprated stereo system, while the rugged Cross Country models receive numerous exterior syling cues including a skid plate and under guard protection.