Long term report: Volvo V40 Cross Country

Volvo V40 XC long termer
Blackball Media

Those clever people at Volvo certainly know their stuff. This car is impressive when it comes to pootling along on the motorway – seriously impressive.

I needed to be in Nottingham for the weekend, and the V40 was available. Boy, how happy was I with the choice.

The early start was no problem, snuggling into the nice heated leather seats. The DAB radio on and the sat nav set (and how nice that it was pretty easy to fathom, without having to leaf through pages and pages of the manual to find out how to set a postcode) I was ready for the off.

The V40 XC has a very comfy ride. It's a bit of a throwback to the old Volvo 440 I had when I was much younger. It feels very, very solid and very safe, and the handling is a bit heavier than most cars on the market today. That makes it a bit cumbersome around town, but on the motorway it's no problem.

And the adaptive cruise control was a dream. Lots of manufacturers like to add their own tweaks, but I'm a man – I don't want to read up how to use it first. I just want to twiddle and push a few buttons and work it out for myself, and have that little smile of satisfaction when it all works out.

This one was very intuitive and simple to operate. It was easy to set the speed, and to increase it, and being a clever Swedish version, very smoothly increased the speed as soon as the indicator was operated to ease past the slower-moving vehicle in front.

It made motorway driving a real pleasure – and, for the long stretches of the M1 which seem to have never-ending road-widening schemes and the accompanying average-speed cameras, a godsend. There'll be no letter from the local constabulary coming my way!

Best bit of all, though, was seeing how frugal it was. A trip from the south coast to Nottingham and back, and it used just £40 of diesel. Now that's a result, and will delight the miserly bean counters in the office who during the festive season made Scrooge look like some kind of happy-go-lucky generous benefactor...

So what are the drawbacks? Well, washing the thing for one. You can't put it through a normal car wash, as the roof spoiler juts out so much the brushes don't get under it, leaving the dirt in place at the top of the rear window. Bit annoying, that. If I wanted to wash it by hand, that's what I would have done in the first place.

And switching radio stations is a little fiddly. The interior is roomy and looks really hi-tech, but the telephone-pad style for the radio pre-sets is fussy. Speeding along at 70mph and wanting to change the station because the DAB reception keeps cutting out can be a bit on the scary side. I'm sure in time it'll become second nature and I'm probably being a bit picky, because for a long drive this car really does take some beating.

The Knowledge

Model: Volvo V40 Cross Country D4
Price: £36,045 (as tested)
Engine: 1969cc, 4 cylinder, turbo-charged, diesel
Power: 190bhp, 1750Nm
Max speed: 130mph
0-60mph: 7.1s
Emissions: 104g/km
Mileage this month: 866

This month's highlight

Motorway driving is a delight. The adaptive cruise control is as close to driverless driving as I ever want to get...