This week we have the 2016 Volvo V40 D2 Manual R-Design Lux Nav in for review, complete with Volvo’s latest Drive-E D2 diesel engine.
It’s more than three years since we last had the Volvo V40 in for review, at which time it was still really the new kid on the block, fighting to take sales from cars like the Mercedes A-Class, BMW 1 Series and Audi A3 (and even the VW Golf), and offering a different take on ‘Premium’ from that offered by the Germans.
But now the Volvo V40 is entering the autumn of its life, with a new range on a new platform planned to arrive in the next year or so, so is the V40 still a viable alternative to the German offerings?
This time we’ve got one of the most expensive specifications – the V40 R-Design Lux Nav – in for review, but with Volvo’s least powerful engine – the new 2.0 litre Drive-E with 118bhp and 206lb/ft of torque.
Volvo V40 D2 R-Design Lux Nav – inside and out
When the V40 arrived, we were impressed with how it looked, and that opinion really hasn’t change in the intervening years.
From the low bonnet, wide grill and daytime running lights at the front, to the rising beltline down the side that sweeps up at the back, and with a roofline that gives the V40 a dynamic look (and with a hint of the iconic P1800), the V40 is a great looking car.
This review car gets added titivations because it’s an R-Design model, but as is Volvo’s wont they’re subtle and understated; enough to signal a sporty look but not shouting about it.
That means a silk metal framed grill, diffuser, extra silk metal details and twin exhausts. Oh, and a nice set of 17″ alloys.
Inside is equally appealing, although there is more of a feeling it’s getting dated thanks to the exceptional interiors on Volvo’s latest cars.
But the leather seats are good looking, comfortable and supportive, the digital dash is clear and informative and, although the floating centre console is, at first look, a mass of little buttons, it’s actually extremely simple to navigate your needs one you’ve got familiar with it.
Safety systems abound, as you’d expect with a Volvo (even a baby Volvo), although some of them on this car come courtesy of a couple of option packs – Xenium Pack and Driver Support Pack (full details below).
They include Park Assist Pilot, Rear Park Assist Camera, Collision Warning with full Auto Brake, Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection, Adaptive Cruise and Distance Alert, Lane Keeping Aid, Driver Alert Control with Active High beam and Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert.
Other goodies added to this car include power front seats, heated front seats and windscreen and a panoramic roof, all pushing the price up from £25,970 to £32,595.
Volvo V40 D2 R-Design Lux Nav – Performance on the Road
The Volvo V40 may be based on an older platform. but it’s a platform that’s based on the Ford Focus, so you know it’s not going to be anything other than competent.
All V40s now come with Volvo’s ‘sporty’ setup, and although it does mean you feel lumps an bumps in the road feeding back, they’re still nicely isolated and you never get the feeling that the V40’s only good for silky smooth surfaces.
In fact, it deals well with even pitted back roads, with a neutral handling balance and steering that’s agreeably positive, and with a decent amount of feedback, which lets you know just where you’re going whether it’s on the motorway, in town or on beckoning B-roads.
The big change is the arrival of the new Drive-E D2 engine in the V40, offering 118bhp and 206lb/ft of torque from its 2.0 litres. It also offers official economy of 78.5mpg and emissions of 94g/km, We actually managed 51.7mpg, although we’d expect figures in the mid-50s for most owners, and mid-60s on a run. Which really is frugal.
And despite a relatively modest 118bhp, the V40 does row on quite convincingly, and the engine never gets intrusive even when you’re pushing.
It may, on paper, not seem particularly lively (0-62mph is a modest 10.5 seconds), but if you keep the revs between 1500 and 3000 it feels properly peppy, lively around town and, thanks to decent amounts of torque, able to recover when baulked on motorways easily.
The gear change is a bit notchy, but it has a decent throw and well-balanced ratios, and after a few miles the notchiness seems to become less evident, and the positive shifts more so.
It’s a nice drive.
Volvo V40 D2 R-Design Lux Nav – Verdict
We liked the Volvo V40 when we first reviewed it three years ago, and we still do.
The V40 is no longer in the first flush of youth, but it’s a very good-looking car, and it manages to be good-looking without being flash. The inside is still a nice place to be too, it handles well, and the new Drive-E D2 engine is lively enough and economical, even in the real world.
One drawback could be that, on the face of it, the V40 can seem a bit on the pricey side, but when you factor in the standard equipment it’s really not.
Yes, you can manage to spend over £3ok when you start ticking the option boxes, but the options on this test car have made it more appealing and safer. That’s quite some achievement when the V40 is already the safest car in its class.
If you’re looking for a car in this class, and that includes stuff like the Mercedes A-Class, BMW 1 Series and even the VW Golf, you really should make sure you take a good look at the V40 before you make your decision.
Frankly, certainly as a family run-around or company car, it’s still up there with the best, and it’s a refreshingly non-German take on ‘Premium’ to boot.
Volvo V40 D2 R-Design Lux Nav Specs
- Engine: 1969cc, 118bhp
- Performance: 0-62mph 10.5 seconds / Top Speed 118mph
- Economy: 78.5mpg – Official / 51.7mpg – Test
- Emissions: 94g/km
- Price: £25,970 / Price as tested £32,595
- Test car supplied by Volvo UK
Volvo V40 D2 R-Design test car options
Xenium Pack – £2,000
- Power Driver and Passenger Seat
- Fixed Panoramic Sunroof
- Park Assist Pilot
- Rear Park Assist Camera
Driver Support Pack – £1,900
- Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake
- Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection
- Adaptive Cruse Control (ACC) and Distance Alert
- Lane Keeping Aid
- Driver Alert Control (DAC) with Active High Beam
- Road Sign Information Display
- Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with Cross Traffic Alert (CTA)
Lux Winter Pack – £350
- Heated Front Seats
- Heated Front windscreen
- Illuminated Gear Knob
- Premium Metallic Paint £825
- Keyless Drive (includes Keyless Entry and Keyless Start) with Personal Car Communicator £550
- Volvo on Call with App £450
- Dark Tinted Windows – Rear Side Doors and Cargo Area £300
- Tempa Spare Wheel and Jack £150
- Flexible Load Floor with Grocery Bag Holder £100