2013 Volvo V40 1.6 T3 R-Design review

* Volvo V40 R-Design driven on UK roads * New sporty trim adds styling and kit * On sale now, priced from 22,295...

2013 Volvo V40 1.6 T3 R-Design review

The Volvo V40 R-Design is the latest addition to the V40 line-up.

The new trim brings visual enhancements, such as a restyled front bumper and rear diffuser, silver door mirrors and 17- and 18-inch alloy wheels.

Buyers also get bespoke leather seats and a smattering of R-Design logos throughout the cabin.

For those who want even more kit, R-Design Lux trim adds xenon headlights, automatic wipers, cruise control and keyless start.

Both R-Design trims can be combined with any engine in the V40 range.

What's the 2013 Volvo V40 R-Design like to drive?
R-Design trim doesn't change the way the V40 drives. This means the suspension contains vertical movements well, but it's a tad on the firm side when cruising around town, and the car never truly settles on quick stretches of dual carriageway.

Adding the optional sports chassis (500) makes the ride even more uncomfortable, so should be avoided.

The steering is rather remote, too, so it's hard to know exactly where the front wheels are pointing in fast corners. It's a shame because if you're prepared to trust it the chassis is pretty well balanced.

The V40 is further undermined by its limited steering lock, which means you'll struggle to find a road that's wide enough to accommodate a single-point turn.

We drove the 148bhp 1.6-litre T3 petrol, which is the sweetest engine in the range. It's smooth and happy to rev hard when you're in the mood for a bit of fun, or if you just want a relaxed drive you can shift up early and let the engine's strong torque reserves do the work.

However, this engine makes up a relatively small percentage of V40 sales, because the D2 and D3 diesel engines offer much lower CO2 emissions and much better fuel economy.

What's the 2013 Volvo V40 R-Design like inside?
Inside, you'll find the same comfortable and classy interior as in any other V40, albeit with some sporty R-Design touches.

The seats are covered in an attractive mix of leathers, and have 'R-Design' logos stitched onto the backrests. You'll find an R-Design logo on the chunky leather-trimmed steering wheel, too.

There's plenty of space in the front, but rear headroom is limited and the V40's boot is fairly pokey compared with a VW Golf's.

Volvo's quirky 'floating' dashboard also gets the R-Design treatment, with a new blue, silver and black colour scheme.

The built-in infotainment system remains difficult to use, though, with too many small buttons crammed in.

Should I buy one?
When judged purely from a driving perspective, the V40 wasn't the car we were hoping for, and the new R-Design trim doesn't change that.

However, R-Design does offer a good deal more styling and equipment over basic ES trim for a premium of 2300. This alone makes it worth considering if you're in the market for a V40.

Just remember there are much better small family cars to choose from at this price, including the Audi A3, BMW 1 Series and VW Golf.

What Car? says...

Audi A3
Volkswagen Golf

Read the full Volvo V40 review>>

Engine size 1.6 T
Price from 25,880
Power 148bhp
Torque 177lb ft
0-60mph 8.4 seconds
Top speed 130mph
Fuel economy 53.3mpg
CO2 124g/km

By Rory White