Long term report: Volvo V40 Cross Country

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Volvo V40 XC interior
Blackball Media

I was keen to spend some time behind the wheel of Sweden's latest hatchback, as it's one car I find it difficult to assess. To my eyes it looks fantastic, even despite the stale brown colour of ours, though the regular V40, which sits 40mm lower and does without the faux off-road exterior trinketry, looks better still.

This aesthetic sullying is only made worse by the knowledge that the Cross Country doesn't get any additional off-road hardware over the standard model, being front-wheel drive unless you go for the top-spec petrol version.

No matter – the car's exceptionally comfortable seats and bangin' Harmon Kardon stereo made light work of the long schlep home to the Midlands, where the cacky-coloured Swede did its best to worm its way into my affections with its powerful heated seats and windscreen, which made getting going in the morning frost an altogether more civilised affair.

The engine, too, proved a boon, with heaps of torque low down, meaning I could be as lazy as I pleased with my gear changes – just as well given the annoyingly calibrated clutch pedal and recalcitrant gear-shift. And, despite my best efforts, I wasn't able to get better than 38mpg out of it. However, excessive thirst and a lack of smoothness aside, the V40 proved a worthy companion. Best keep it quiet from the team, though; I'll never see it again!

The knowledge

Model: Volvo V40 Cross Country D4
Price: £36,045 (as tested)
Engine: 1969cc, 4 cylinder, turbo-charged
Power: 190bhp, 400Nm
Max speed: 130mph
0-60mph: 7.1s
Emissions: 104g/km
Mileage this month: 945

This month's highlight

Heated screen and warm seats – the cold weather can jog on.