First drive review: Volvo V40

No Volvo for the last two decades has been as important as this new V40, but does it impress?
What is it?

This is the most important new Volvo for the past 20 years. Despite its V40 badge – last seen on the estate version of the S40 – this is the first five-door hatchback Volvo to compete in the C-segment for decades. It replaces both the old S40 and V50 and around 2,500 will be sold this year.

What's new?

This car is totally knew – and it had to be. Volvo has been guilty in the past of not really understanding what sectors their cars fit into – but that's not the case with the V40. It's been built from the ground-up and like the S60 and V60 before it, the V40 showcases Volvo's new design identity.

What's under the bonnet?

A Quality Street-like assortment. Diesels come in the flavour of a 1.6-litre four-cylinder with 115bhp badged D2, and two 2.0-litre five-cylinder diesels with 150 and 177bhp both badged D3 and D4. Petrols consist of a 150bhp or a 180bhp 1.6-litre four-cylinder, and a 2.5-litre five-cylinder coming later this year. The D2 will take 70 per cent of UK sales.

What's the kit like?

It's simple and all versions are well-equipped. The range kicks off with the D2 ES for £19,745 which comes with 16-inch alloys, electronic climate control and Bluetooth. The range tops out at £26,680 for the T4 SE Lux which offers leather upholstery and 17-inch alloys. All models come with City Safety and a pedestrian airbag as standard.

Any Rivals?

The Swedish firm is pitching the V40 against the brand-new Mercedes-Benz A-Class, BMW 1 Series and the big daddy – the Audi A3. It will be tough to win over buyers who traditionally buy German.

Is it any good?

This is a very competent car. It's based on the Ford Focus platform – it's the last Volvo to use Blue Oval underpinnings – so you can imagine how well it handles. But Volvo has added some of its own character to the way the V40 drives. Interior ambience is top-notch, and the V40 feels a quality product.

The Autoblog verdict

We are very impressed by the V40. For years Volvo has stated its cars are alternatives to premium German products, but that has never really rung true. The V40, however, is a car that really takes the fight to the Germans and is a serious alternative. Whether buyers will be as enthusiastic as us is yet to be established, of course.

Volvo V40
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First drive review: Volvo V40
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