Volvo V40 T4

The Volvo V40 Volvo 514271

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By Tim Saunders

Hills show a car’s mettle.

I live in an area rich in a variety of differing landscape, which ranges from flat to steep. Just round the corner is a particularly awkward hill for those walking up it or pushing a pushchair. I know. So when I drive many cars up it there are few that actually surprise me in their ability to tackle it.

But the 1.6-litre 177 bhp Volvo V40 T4 does. Bear in mind that even nowadays most cars still prefer to be warmed up before being driven. I never have the time to do this and so no sooner have I started the metallic silver five door hatchback it is confronted with this hill. We’re in second gear and it flies up it without a stutter. I am impressed.

Deep down I will always be a petrol head despite the fact that necessity demands that I drive a more sensible and efficient diesel. The Volvo is a remarkably fast family hatchback that will hit 60mph from standstill in 7.5secs and go on to 140mph!

It’s a phenomenal car; a five door hatchback that sits low to the ground like a sports coupe. It therefore doesn’t disappoint when being driven. The driving position is first class. The seats are supportive. The six speed manual gearbox is slick. And it sticks to the road and corners at speed brilliantly, giving the driver supreme confidence. The ride is quite hard as one might expect from a sports car. After all this is a T4; the particularly sporty Volvo. I’m a little unsure about the design of the rear but despite this it is certainly distinctive with hints of earlier Volvos. The test model is finished in a rather conservative metallic silver where perhaps a louder colour such as sky blue might be more befitting as indeed might black alloy wheels...

Inside, the luxurious interior features heated and cooled front leather seats, air conditioning and all round electric windows.

This is a fast, slick sports car that is also a good size five door family hatchback. It is not just fast but also safe thanks to its plethora of safety features which include intelligent cruise control. When this is engaged it automatically measures the distance from the car in front and brakes and accelerates accordingly.

Parkers, the car experts, say: “Volvo, sick of BMW and Audi taking the limelight in the medium hatchback segment, has thrown down a gauntlet in the form of its V40. An all-new car, the Volvo V40 is a sleek and classy looking five-door hatchback that will target the likes of the Audi A3, BMW 1 Series and the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. Engines include a low-tax 1.6-litre diesel engine that emits just 94g/km of CO2 with a claimed average fuel economy of 78.8mpg. That means it'll be seriously efficient and cheap to run for company car drivers and private buyers alike. Volvo also offers a version with a T5 petrol engine that produces 254bhp, allowing the V40 to get from 0-62mph in 6.7 seconds. Typically, Volvo safety is high on the list with all manner of active systems that are available as standard or as optional extras. It is the first proper five-door hatch that the Swedish company has made for a long time, and because Volvo wanted a car with a low-slung bonnet it had to think outside of the box to conform to pedestrian safety standards.
So, it stuck an airbag under the bonnet. This unique system features a bank of seven sensors in the front bumper that activates the airbag if it thinks the car is about to hit a pedestrian. The system then lifts the rear of the bonnet clear of the engine and puts a cushion over the base of the windscreen and front pillars. In a belt-and-braces approach there’s also a camera on the front that’ll prompt automatic braking if it detects an obstruction. Inside there’s some nice touches including newly designed seats, a frameless rear-view mirror and a backlit gearknob.”

Facts at a glance

T4 SE (Nav) 5d

New price range:

£18,995 - £31,900

Engine: 1.6-litre

Economy: 51mpg

0-60mph: 7.5secs

Top speed: 140mph

Power: 177bhp

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