“When I think of Volvo, I think Swedish tank, safe as houses, flat pack furniture and ABBA”
This medium-sized family hatchback stands alone in its sector, slightly cowering in the shadow of the upmarket popular German alternatives, such as the Audi A3 and VW Golf. The BMW 1 Series and Mercedes A-Class come a close second, but to be honest if you want to be predictable and stand in line and you aren’t enthusiastic about “the usual suspects,” then the classy Volvo V40 is a very worthy alternative. You’ll be even more impressed with the price tag of around £22K compared to its European neighbours.
Outside the box thinking
The Euro NCAP rating is naturally five-star, which translates to “safe as a Swedish-built house, complete with flat-pack furniture.” Its innovative driving assistance ensures lane discipline and no slow vehicle collisions, it has faultless connectivity and enough airbags and sensors to detect the smallest thing that could impair your journey, which is everything you’d expect and more. Volvo have aptly named these as Drive-E, SENSUS and IntelliSafe. Now, with these bold names for driving, once I got behind the wheel of the V40 I hoped that even with my experience these features would keep me on the road despite any day-to-day distractions.
Prepare for battle
Once behind the wheel you’re thrust into Volvo’s carefully thought-out cockpit. Taking your seat, the driving position is comfortable and gives a defined view of everything around you. Once you push the central command START/STOP button, all of the car’s bells and whistles leap into life. Even the huge list of accessories (if you need any more that is) needs its own website. The EPAS (Electronic Power Assisted Steering) engages and the steering wheel is light to even the heaviest touch. Once the infotainment system engages, with no prompt from me, the Bluetooth connectivity immediately ensures I’m contactable and legal; the web browser helps me find my nearest flat-pack furniture outlet, closely followed by the postcode, punched into the intelligent touch screen SAT NAV.
When you pause for a moment, you’ll realise you’re actually in a sporty Volvo, two words not normally appearing in the same sentence. But Volvo have got it right. The interior has been adorned in chrome and blue defined R-Design livery throughout, making the car refined and elegant – and far from a grandad mobile. The day running lights are sharp and defined, the honeycomb grill sitting in the wider shoulders of the V-shaped bonnet is crisp and classy, which is synonymous with Volvo’s new branding and style. Even the high placed, rear headlights have been positioned to ensure maximum vision for other drivers who dare to get too close.
Taking the family out is a little tricky as the car is less roomy than its European counterparts, but front and rear seating is very generous and delivered me to my destination comfortably and refreshed. The boot comes out a skinny 335 litres, compared to a VW Golf, which delivers a huge 380 litres. But to be honest, if you need more room for your flat-pack, hire a van instead.
Once out on the road, the ride, handling and power tells me I’m not in your average hatchback. It’s dynamic and charismatic in the corners but plays its safety trump card at all times. The power is there with uncompromised ease and keep its impressive MPG intact. Even changing lanes, overtaking, parking and driving at speeds between 10mph and 70mph are all monitored as if you have your very own personal driving guardian angel, which is impressive. Volvo have succeeded in keeping the build quality, safety and styling as a finely tuned, no-nonsense every day classy motor.
After having this car for around five days, I encountered all weathers and all road types. I found the Volvo to be an excellent addition to any family, couple, new or senior driver. Its overall picture painted by Volvo made me appreciate the hard work gone into getting the balance of this car right. Although the name Volvo didn’t inspire me before this road test, I can safely say that the Swedes have got it spot on and it gets the thumbs up from me.