First drive: Volvo V40 Drive-E

Volvo V40

Volvo has updated its engine range and the V40 is the first to get a taste of the marque's class-leading Drive-E motors. It might not currently be the go-to choice for family hatchback buyers but the new V40 shows off some of the best that Volvo offers and this upgraded model will have you questioning what you saw in one of its German rivals.

What is it?

The Volvo V40 is a five-door, five-seat hatchback ideal for a young family looking to move on from a small fast car to something still fast, but practical and economical. Volvo has transformed itself in recent years and what you get with the V40 is a powerful, exciting car to drive that it still usable for everyday family life.

What's under the bonnet?

The latest V40s are the first to be fitted with Volvo's new Drive-E engines. They come either with a D4 diesel or petrol turbocharged T5 engine - capable of 245hp. Incredibly, the D4 engine has 190hp but it is still capable of 74.3mpg and less than 100g/km CO2, meaning road tax exemption under the current rules These figures are something other cars in its class can't get near. Volvo will be rolling out these engines across their range of cars in the near future.

What's the spec like?

Volvo has reinvented itself somewhat in recent years and are climbing ever further upmarket. The V40 offers the quality you would expect from a luxury car brand: leather seats, rear parking sensors and adaptive cruise control all make an appearance, though like any other new Volvo, the V40 comes kitted out with one of the most irritating satellite navigation systems. It's good don't get me wrong but always underestimates time, which can make journeys a tad frustrating.

Any rivals?

The Audi A3 or BMW 120d are keen competition for the Volvo V40. It's just as capable on the road, and as practical and upmarket inside as either, but with a price tag that's more pleasing on the wallet you wouldn't be disappointed if you opted for the V40.

Volvo V40 Drive-E

Volvo V40 Drive-E

What's it like to drive?

This Volvo handles fantastically, the V40 driving position plants you close to the road and you feel completely in control. It gives you the feeling that it is capable of anything you throw at it, with a secure, planted feeling in the bends. Given some open road it would have you thinking twice about whether its German rivals merely talk the talk when it comes to having fun behind the wheel.

The AOL Cars verdict

When you factor in the excellent fuel economy, low emissions and entertaining driving dynamics that the new V40 offers, it starts to make a very compelling argument for itself. If you're the sort of motorist that strives for individuality, appreciates classy design and want one of the best diesel engines around, then the V40 Drive-E line up is for you.

The knowledge

Model: Volvo V40 D4 SE Lux Nav
Price: £27,770
Engine: 2.0-litre, 4 cylinder turbo diesel
Power: 187bhp
Max speed: 143mph
0-60mph: 7.4s
MPG: 74.3mpg
Emissions: 99g/km CO2

Author: Rebecca Chaplin