What's the used Volvo V40 hatchback like?
On sale in the UK from 2012 to 2019, this Volvo V40 remains one of the Swedish firm's most popular models, according to the number of views we get for this review on our website. Perhaps that's not surprising - it offers all the traditional qualities we expect from a Volvo but at very reasonable second-hand prices.
True, the Volvo V40 does share a lot in common with the contemporary 2011-2018 Ford Focus, but that's not a bad base to start from, and you'll find few clues to the V40's mainstream heritage by simply sitting in it. Indeed, there are plenty of brushed metal trims and soft-touch materials to give it enough quality to edge it ahead of its main competitors, with only the 2013-2020 Audi A3 having a more premium feel.
Engines: The V40 has a large and fairly confusing range of engines, but we'll try to simplify things here. The range opened 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 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, 187bhp T4 and 242bhp T5 forms. Unless you wanted an automatic, that is, because that came with a 1.5-litre engine in 120bhp T2 and 150bhp T3 guises. Don't ask...
Trims and equipment: 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 ambient lighting inside and a sporty body kit for the exterior.
Post-2016 facelifted cars moved to the model naming structure of the XC90 with Momentum, Inscription and R-Design. Entry-level Momentum is essentially the previous ES model under a different name, but benefitted from brighter LED 'Thor's hammer' headlights that came as standard across the range. Similarly, Inscription can be thought of as the previous SE Lux, while R-Design carried on as before - although there was a ‘Pro’ version with larger 18in wheels that does nothing for the ride.
Ride and handling: On the whole, the V40 is a pleasant family car to drive. Mind, that shouldn't come as much of a surprise, considering its Focus underpinnings. These were fettled slightly for the Volvo, so it isn't quite as fun as the Ford, but the V40's steering is still well-weighted and precise. Body lean in a corner taken quickly isn't a major concern, either, and if you should start to run out of grip you can deal with this easily by simply lifting off the accelerator.
The biggest issue for V40s fitted with a manual gearbox is its numb clutch pedal; this can make finding the biting point tricky. There's no dedicated footrest, either.
Interior and practicality: The interior of the V40 is a pleasant place to spend time in, but there are a few too many buttons on the dashboard and they can be confusing to use at a glance. The infotainment system isn't the paragon of intuitiveness it should be, either.
Still, at least there's plenty of space up front and adjustment in the seat and steering wheel for anyone to get comfortable. Those in the back who are over six feet will find their hair brushing the ceiling due to the sloping roofline and three across the bench would be a squeeze. At least leg room is on par with rivals.
The V40's boot isn’t as commodious as its main competition, though. 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.
Being a Volvo you'll 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. There's also City Safe: a system that has the ability to apply the brakes and even bring the car to a halt if you get too close to the vehicle in front.
What used Volvo V40 hatchback will I get for my budget?
High-mileage early Volvo V40s can be found for £3000, but it is better to budget for at least £5000: this gets you a 1.6-litre D2 SE manual with average mileage and a decent service history. Petrol-powered models with an average number of miles as a full-service history, meanwhile, start at around £6000.
The V40 was given a mild facelift in 2016; if you want one of these cars, you’ll need to stump up at least £7000. Spend between £10,000 and £15,000 on good cars from 2017 and 2018. A last-of-the-line V40 from a Volvo main dealer will start from around £15,000 for a T2 Momentum model, and such is the current demand that you can spend up to £20,000 for the popular petrol-engined T3 in one of the higher specs.
Check the value of a used Volvo V40 with What Car? Valuations
How much does it cost to run a Volvo V40 hatchback?
In terms of fuel costs, the V40 shouldn't trouble your bank balance and will be on par with its rivals. The D2 is the most efficient model – its fuel consumption figure is an impressive 78.5mpg, according to the NEDC tests that were prevalent at the time. The five-cylinder D3 and D4 of the period both had figures of 65.7mpg, although the later 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel that replaced all variants still provided decent economy at 74.3mpg.
If you’d rather a petrol V40, an early 1.6-litre T3 and T4 have similar economy and emissions figures (53.3mpg for the T3 and 51.4mpg and for the T4). The five-cylinder T5 is the most expensive model to run with a purse-busting figure of 34.9mpg. This is probably why it was replaced, along with the other petrol models, with a more efficient 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that has a figure of 47.9mpg in 242bhp T5 form. The 1.5-litre petrol auto turns in a respectable figure of 50.4mpg.
Go for the D2 diesel for the lowest CO2 emissions of just 94g/km, although the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder used in the later D3 and D4 models managed to emit only 99g/km. Earlier (pre-2015) D3 and D4 models use a larger five-cylinder engine that puts out more CO2, at 114g/km.
As long as you avoid the five-cylinder T5 in early examples of V40 (it spits out 189g/km), then the petrols are reasonable for road tax. As with the diesel models, the petrol engine range was revised in 2015 to use smaller four-cylinder engines, which is why a later T5 only emits 137g/km in T5 form. Both the regular manual T4 and automatic-equipped T2 and T3 petrols produce 129g/km. The T3 has the lowest CO2 figure for a petrol V40 at 124g/km.
If your V40 was registered before 1 April 2017, then it'll be charged for yearly road tax under the older system that was based on CO2 emissions, whereas those registered after this point will pay a flat rate fee under the current system. This is currently set at £180 a year. To find out more about the current road tax costs, click here for further information.
Servicing, however, won’t be quite so cheap, as Volvo dealers do not provide fixed-price servicing. better to seek out a good independent dealer who will service your car for a little less than a main dealer.
The Volvo V40 emerges as a highly dependable option for those considering an older used family car, as revealed by our annual What Car? Reliability Survey, which draws on real-world owner experiences.
While the V40 itself offers strong reliability, it's worth noting that owners have pointed out challenges related to the frequency and cost of servicing, particularly within the Volvo main dealer network.
Find out more about the Volvo V40’s common problems and general reliability with our dedicated page
Which used Volvo V40 hatchback should I buy?
Depending upon how you intend to use your car, we would suggest you look for a 1.6 D2 diesel as the best all-round engine choice for earlier cars and the 2.0 D2 for post-2015 models. Both manage to motivate the V40 with adequate pace, although it’s not quite as effortlessly as those of the Audi A3 or Volkswagen Golf. The D3 and D4 make the V40 surprisingly fast, but they start becoming a bit too expensive to buy and run when compared with the D2.
If you only intend to do shorter journeys, though, you should consider the T3 petrol to avoid issues with the DPF. The T3 engine is smooth and happy to rev when you need a bit more power to perform an overtaking manoeuvre, and it should be quite economical, even if it is unlikely to match the diesel model.
SE-spec Volvo V40s get plenty of equipment and there are enough of them around to make it our pick of the range. That being said, if you like the more aggressive styling of the R-Design model, then you can go for that model safe in the knowledge that you won't have to put up with a jarring ride since it doesn't come with firmer, sports suspension, unlike many of its rivals. And it does have fabulously comfortable sports seats.
Our favourite Volvo V40: 2.0-litre D2 R-Design
What alternatives should I consider to a used Volvo V40 hatchback?
The 2013-2020 Audi A3 Sportback is one of the best cars in the Volvo V40's class; it provides strong yet efficient engines, a beautifully finished interior, and a great blend of ride and handling. The rather firm ride of S Line models on sports suspension is the only major downside.
The 2011-2019 BMW 1 Series, meanwhile, is the driver’s choice, offering rear-wheel drive balance and sharp handling. But that’s not all it can offer – good performance, low running costs and a best-in-class infotainment system are further highlights. However, the large hump in its floor does rob some space in the rear seats, while its boot space is also compromised.