If your priorities are running costs or company car tax, the entry-level D2 diesel engine is the way to go. It’s perfectly adequate in everyday motoring, whether in town or on the motorway, and it’s smartly priced. However, be aware that its performance isn’t as effortless as that of the best equivalent diesels in key rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf.
If you’re willing to pay more to get stronger performance, both the D3 and D4 diesels are good options; the D4, in particular, is efficient considering the power it offers, and makes the V40 satisfyingly fast.
There’s a broad range of petrol engines in the V40 line-up, but we’d avoid the high-powered 2.0-litre T5 because it’s not fun enough to justify its high price. Of the rest – which are 1.5 or 2.0-litre turbocharged units, depending on whether you go for a manual or automatic gearbox – the T3 is our favourite; it’s smooth and happy to rev hard.
All the diesel engines can be had with an automatic gearbox; the D2 and D3 get a six-speed unit, while the D4 has an eight-speeder. There’s a similar split with the petrols; the T2 and T3 can be ordered with a six-speed auto, while the T5 gets the eight-speed ’box as standard.
Volvo V40 ride comfort
V40s come with standard or sports suspension, but we’d avoid the latter because it makes the ride overly firm; in fact, the ride is unsettled even on the standard set-up, particularly on bigger alloys. All but the most sporting V40s – primarily the T5 – cope well with motorway miles, and are comfortable long-distance cruisers. Cross Country models have slightly softer suspension than the regular editions.
Volvo V40 handling
The V40’s handling is average but nothing more. All models bar the top-end petrol Cross Country V40 are front-wheel drive, and while they have plenty of grip (even in poor weather), the front end will slide wide of your desired line earlier than rivals’. The steering feels vague and inconsistently weighted, too, but at least it’s light enough to make low-speed manoeuvres easy. Body roll is well controlled, and as long as you’re after normal, unhurried progress, the V40 is easy to drive.
Volvo V40 refinement
The petrol engines are smooth and the noise fades into the background under all but heavy acceleration, although the T5’s boomy, resonant exhaust note can be wearing. The D2, D3 and D4 are good by diesel standards, emitting a distant but easily ignored thrum when you’re cruising. You do hear the usual clatter if you demand more revs, mind you.
There’s a lot of wind and road noise at motorway speeds, while you also have to put up with a spongy-feeling clutch pedal and a notchy gearshift. At least mechanical vibrations are well suppressed in all V40s.
This entry-level diesel engine is efficient as well as easy to use in everyday driving. It’s our pick of the V40 range, assuming you’re not too bothered by sprightly performance. It is available with a six-speed manual or automatic gearbox.
This mid-spec 2.0-litre diesel engine offers stronger performance than the D2. It’s a little less efficient, although it strikes a good balance between performance and running costs. Like the D2, it can be combined with a manual or automatic transmission.
The D4 is very efficient given its performance, because it could give a hot hatchback driver something to think about. It’s easy to drive swiftly, too, thanks to a broad swell of low-rev shove. The D4 is also available with a slick eight-speed automatic gearbox, although this pushes CO2 emissions up slightly and costs a lot to add, so we’d stick with the standard six-speed manual.
This 2.0-litre petrol engine has 120bhp and is the cheapest way into a V40. Its CO2 emissions are respectable rather than outstanding, though, and the punchier T3 is every bit as efficient, so we'd recommend that instead if you want petrol power. It is available with a manual or automatic gearbox, although going for the auto means you get an identically powerful 1.5-litre engine rather than a 2.0-litre.
The T3’s turbocharged petrol engine has plenty of low-rev shove, but it’s also smooth and happy to rev hard. If you must have a petrol engine in your V40, this is the one to go for, although the diesel versions are vastly more efficient. They’ll hold their value much better, too. Like the T2, the T3 can be had with a manual or automatic gearbox, although going for the auto means a 1.5-litre engine instead of a 2.0-litre.
The T5’s 2.0-litre turbocharged engine gives hot hatch pace and pulls cleanly from low revs, but there’s a big surge as the turbo kicks in, which can cause the front wheels to scrabble for traction and make the steering wheel writhe in your hands. This engine is available only with the eight-speed automatic gearbox, and CO2 emissions and running costs are pretty high.