What's the used Volvo V40 hatchback like?
In a market that includes some truly strong rivals, the Volvo V40 needed to be good from the off. Taking the Ford Focus as its base wasn’t a bad start. And there are few clues to the V40's mainstream heritage you'll find from simply sitting in it: there are plenty of brushed metal trims and soft-touch plastics to give it enough quality to edge it ahead of its main competitors. In fact, it’s only really beaten by the Audi A3.
The V40 has a large and fairly confusing range of engines, but we'll try to simplify them here. The range kicked off with an economical 115bhp 1.6-litre D2 diesel, followed by two versions of a 2.0-litre five-cylinder diesel, the 148bhp D3 and 177bhp D4. These were all replaced in 2015 by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine in three separate flavours: the 118bhp D2, 148bhp D3 and 187bhp D4.
Petrol options begin with a turbocharged 1.6-litre engine in two different states of tune (148bhp T3 and 178bhp T4) and a short-lived 254bhp 2.5-litre five-cylinder T5. These were all replaced in 2015 by a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine in 120bhp T2, 150bhp T3 or and T5 forms. Unless you wanted an automatic, that is, because that came with a 1.5-litre engine in T2 and T3 guises. Don't ask...
On the whole, the V4o is a pleasant family car to drive. Mind, that shouldn't come as much of a surprise, considering its Focus underpinnings. It was fettled slightly, so it isn't quite as fun as the original, but the V40 still has well weighted and precise steering. Body roll isn't a major concern either, plus any understeer is dealt with simply with a lift of the accelerator. The biggest issue for V40s fitted with a manual gearbox is the numb clutch pedal, which makes finding the biting point tricky, and the lack of a dedicated foot rest.
V40 drivers benefit from a whole suite of safety kit, including an airbag that pops out from under the rear edge of the bonnet to protect pedestrians from striking the base of the windscreen and City Safe, a system that has the ability to bring the car to a halt if you get too close to the vehicle in front.
ES trim gets you climate control, electric windows all round, Bluetooth, a CD player and a DAB radio. SE adds cruise control and height adjustment to the driver's seat, while SE Lux has full leather upholstery. R-Design cars are equipped with sports seats, additional lighting inside and a sporty bodykit for the exterior, making this more of a style package rather than an upgraded model.
On the whole, the interior of the V40 is a pleasant place to spend time in, but there are a few too many buttons on the dashboard that can be confusing to use at a glance and the infotainment system isn't the paragon of intuitiveness it should be.
The V40's boot isn’t as commodious as its main competition, either. There's a narrow opening that doesn’t help with loading awkward objects such as a pram, and there's a noticeable step in the floor when the rear seats are folded down. The optional variable-height boot floor improves matters and allows you to secure your shopping bags or hide valuable items beneath it.
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