Used car of the week: Volvo V40

* Used examples of Volvo's classy family hatch * Safe and cheap to run * Good quality examples from £12,000...

Used car of the week: Volvo V40

Volvo is famous for its safety credentials and is calling its upcoming XC90 the safest car its ever made. However, its worth noting that the V40 hatchback is currently the safest car ever tested by Euro NCAP.

Is now been on sale for more than two years, and a number of good quality used examples are making their way onto the used car market. Here's what you need to look for if you're considering the rival to the BMW 1 Series, Audi A3 and Volkswagen Golf.

Ideal model 1.6 D2 115 SE
Prices from £11,990

Why should I buy a used Volvo V40?

It's one of the safest cars on the road. All models get automatic emergency braking as standard and there's an airbag under the bonnet to protect pedestrians. Not only will these keep your family safe, it also means you'll get a lower insurance bill.

The other running costs are impressively low as well. All V40s are economical, and our pick – the 1.6 D2 115 with a diesel engine – claims an impressive 83.1mpg and emits 88g/km of CO2.

Inside, you'll find a smart, classy cabin that's made from high-quality materials. All models are generously equipped, with climate control, Bluetooth, DAB digital radio and alloy wheels. SE trim adds cruise control and automatic wipers.

There's plenty of seat adjustment and legroom for front and rear occupants. However, you should bear in mind that the optional panoramic sunroof eats into headroom, especially in the rear.

Which model should I choose?

We recommend the 1.6 D2 115 SE. The D2 diesel engine has more than enough power for everyday driving and offers low running costs. SE trim adds cruise control and automatic wipers.

How much should I pay?

Prices start at about £12,000 for a high-mileage model, while a '12/12 car with around 20,000 miles on the clock will set you back about £14,000.

What problems should I look out for?

Volvo V40 owners are a happy bunch. There are very few common problems reported; there was a recall to sort a problem with the central electronic module, which can fail and cause the left-hand rear light cluster to stop working. This work should have been carried out under warranty.

The Volvo V40 has been a popular fleet car so make sure that all scheduled maintenance has been carried out and that the trim in the cabin is in pristine condition.