Our Cars: Volvo V40 - September
Week ending September 28
Driven this week 1770
Volvo V40 review
I recently embarked on a bit of busman's holiday, taking in much of Northern Europe and when it came to choosing a set of wheels I figured I'd be on safe ground with our long-term Volvo V40.
The prospect of 50mpg and 500miles to a tank, a modern sat-nav system, plus super-comfortable seats and enough boot space for my golf clubs and a couple of suitcases seemed perfect. Well, I'm happy to report the V40 performed almost flawlessly; Almost.
Although you can change the appearance and functionality of the V40's electronic instrumentation - you can even give the rev counter precedence over the speedometer, there's no facility to change the speed from miles per hour to kilometres per hour.
There is a minuscule kilometre readout in the bottom right-hand corner of the display but you don't really want to be squinting in the corner of the dashboard when you're trying to navigate your way through a Parisian rush hour.
This also has ramifications for the sat-nav, which indicates the legal speed limit as a circular read out in the centre of the instrumentation binnacle. I bet you didn't know that the legal speed limit on a dry French Peage' is 130mph. At least it it according to the V40.
Week ending September 21
Miles this week: 300
A couple of years ago I had a Volkswagen Golf GTD, which had the optional self-parking system installed. It was great, parking the car an inch or so from the kerb almost without fail.
So, when my Volvo arrived with a similar system fitted, I was keen to try it out. Again, it's great: simply pushing the button allows the parking sensors to decide whether a space is big enough. Engage reverse, let go of the wheel and 'hey presto'.
Or not. I live on a busy street, so need to park quite tight to the kerb to ensure that door mirrors don't get removed by passing traffic. However, the V40 doesn't agree, the system parking the car a good five inches from the kerb.
I've resumed parking duties myself, because I can get a lot closer to the kerb (without scratching wheels, I might add) than the system can. Perhaps a bit of recalibration will be required come the car's first service.
Week ending September 14
Miles this week 300
I really like our Volvo V40. That's why I bagged it for a quick late night trip from London to Oxford and back the other day. It's just so comfortable and quiet. The seats fit perfectly (although not everyone in the office agrees) and it's by far the quietest four-cylinder diesel I can think of; our much more expensive Merc CLS and BMW 320d are both more clattery.
I'm also a fan of the look and feel of the cabin. It's terrifically made. In fact I went to look at the new Golf in Berlin last week and the Volvo seems several levels up on the plushness scale.
My major gripe is our V40's ride. Even on the M25 and M4 it's always fidgeting. A shame. With a more supple suspension set-up it would be the most comfortable and luxurious hatch, hands down.
By Chas Hallett
Week ending September 7
Driven this week: 202 miles
Volvo V40 review
The V40 is back, and already it has proved its flexibility.
I attached my bike rack to it last weekend and headed off for deepest, darkest beyond. On my return a few muddy, exhausting hours later (it rained a lot), I refitted the rack to the car, at which point one of the straps broke.
The good news was that the Volvo's seats folded down with just the tug on two levers, then once I’d removed the front wheel the bike slotted into the boot with no trouble whatsoever.
Best of all, the few flecks of residual mud dried and were easily vacuumed off the next day, leaving the boot pristine once more.