What better place to get behind the wheel of a brand new Volvo than in the mother country – Sweden. While “in town” EFTM took the opportunity to hire what seems to be the Corolla of Sweden – the Volvo V40 “hatch” – although it seems closer to a small car “wagon” than a hatch.
The specific V40 variant driven was a D5 Auto, which isn’t available in Australia – but that’s not what this is about. I wanted to see what Volvo had to offer in terms of fit, finish, quality, ride and handling.
As a diesel, as Chris Bowen knows, It was off to a poor start with me – I just don’t like diesel cars, something about the way they drive has just never grabbed me. But here’s a headline for you – this is the best diesel I’ve ever driven.
Out on the open road it lacked any punch to be able to give me great confidence in overtaking. If I switched into semi-automatic mode and flicked it down a gear ready for an overtake – even with the foot to the floor I never once got a g-force jolt as if to indicate a mountain of power under foot. That said, it handled every overtake with ease, so perhaps it’s the smooth delivery of power which helps me feel comfortable with this car.
With many Swede’s out pushing the limits I got a feel for a few decent speeds, until I discovered the countless speed cameras on the Swedish country roads (not on the highways at all as best I could tell). It felt smooth and in control at every turn.
Lacking that “punch” feel means I found myself taking a more considered approach to the roads at every turn – could it be that the V40 was making me a better driver?.
If you love the feeling of putting the boot in and getting it going, this V40 is not for you – we’ll wait till we’ve driven a petrol variant to see how that differs. However, I’m certainly impressed with the overall ride and handling of this car, I had a great feeling of confidence all along the ride .
Inside there’s more to impress. The fit and finish are a easily on par with comparable european car-makers, the textured dash when viewed up-close can seem cheap, but in reality it’s viewed at arm’s length and seems a good match for the overall design.
Everything felt sturdy and well constructed, but it’s the dashboard behind your steering wheel that really wow’s the driver.
The main centre dial and the two side panels of the dash-cluster are all LCD screen driven. No more moving dials, this is fully electronic.
To enhance that experience, there are three theme’s to choose from – Elegance, ECO and Performance. Each with their own very individual look.
It did take me some considerable time to find the left-stalk mounted controls for the trip-computer, but once there it all made sense.
On this model there were none of the mod-cons. No rear-camera, no lane assist, just cruise control and parking sensors, but together they are enough to get you a good feeling from the cash you’d spend.
Starting at the low $40,000 mark in Australia it’s a fair price to pay in a competitive market, but one drive over a couple of thousand km’s and a few days has convinced me that I want to see more of what Volvo has to offer. Given my wife’s desire to own a Volvo XC90 – it might be time to take a look