Driving position and dashboard
There’s a wide range of seat and steering wheel adjustment to help you find a good position, and the V40 has the most comfortable seats in its class. All models get adjustable lumbar support as standard for the driver, although only plusher variants get it for the front seat passenger. It’s a shame the dashboard isn’t more logically laid out, though. It’s confusing at best, because there are too many small buttons that are hard to tell apart at a glance.
However, one neat touch is a system that enables you to choose between three different ‘themes’ for the dials; this is optional on cheaper trims and standard on the more expensive ones. The layered menus you have to go through on the driver’s information readout, which you navigate using a scrolling wheel on the end of the indicator stalk, are a bit convoluted, though, and can make it tricky to find what you’re after.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
Forward visibility in the V40 is fair, but rear visibility is quite poor, because the rear windows narrow noticeably and the thick pillars at the back of the car cause big blind spots. The high, slim rear window can make it hard to judge where the back of the car ends, too.
Rear parking sensors are standard on Inscription and ‘Pro’ versions of R-Design and Cross Country trims. You can also get front sensors, a rear camera or Park Assist Pilot – a system that will steer the car into a space as you operate the throttle. If you want additional assistance on the move, there’s an optional blind spot monitoring system that also warns you of any traffic crossing your path as you reverse.
Sat nav and infotainment
All V40s get a digital radio, CD player, Bluetooth handsfree connection and audio streaming, plus a USB input that will allow full control of Android and Apple phones through the standard 5.0in colour display. It’s a shame, though, that the system is controlled via a combination of fiddly, small shortcut buttons and a rotary dial that scrolls you through layers of menus. It’s not always easy to guess where you should be looking to find simple functions, such as travel updates on the radio, or turning off voice guidance if you’ve added the optional sat-nav (which also brings a 7.0in screen).
Controls on the steering wheel are standard on all models, and make it easy to do the basic things such as skipping a track or changing the volume. The V40 also has one of the better standard sound systems in the class; an eight-speaker set-up is standard, while an upgraded Harman Kardon system is available as an option.
The Volvo’s cabin is one of the smartest in the class, beaten only by the Audi A3 for overall perceived quality. Brushed metal finishes and a variety of soft-textured plastics and materials mean that it looks classy and modern, and feels high-end in all the key places. The switches are well damped, and it’s not until you start prodding around beneath the seats and in the footwells that you find some sharp-edged plastics.