When you've done a big shop and stowed the bags in the boot of your average car, isn't it irritating to get home and find all the groceries strewn about like the aftermath of a grenade strike. Tins rolling around, packets splitting open and a root vegetable that has bounced to oblivion to rot and to smell. Wouldn't it be good if some car maker came up with a nifty idea to stop that happening? That would be fantastic, that. Enter, stage left, the Volvo V40 D3 R-Design Pro.
With all the high tech kit that comes on cars these days – and the featured Volvo V40 is bristling with the stuff – it's nice to find an idea that is both simple and effective and not reliant on electricity.
The boot, while not being the biggest in class, is well-shaped and has a false floor beneath which there's even more storage and beneath that is a proper space-saver spare wheel. The false floor is hinged and can be set to various angles to accommodate sundry stuff (see snap). Just think of it: no more rummaging around the back of the boot to capture a recalcitrant carrot. Simple and effective although it is an option and will set you back an extra one hundred quid. Worth every penny in my opinion.
It's a sleek, fine looking car the Volvo V40 , especially in the 'Passion' red shown here. This Swedish beauty is supplied around a range of 2.0L engines in petrol or diesel with various power outputs in assorted trim levels. The diesels – the fuel to go for on this car – are D2, D3 as featured here and D4. D3 gives you 148bhp which is plenty, delivering a lively drive, especially in 'Sport' mode.
Our featured car came in R-Design trim and was loaded with safety kit as you would expect from Volvo. It's all welcome obviously but with a selection of other options the vehicle cost an eye-watering £35,000. There are plenty of cheaper models in the range but, frankly, once you've seen the R-Design trim levels and features it would be very hard to backtrack down the list.
There's a full length glass sunroof to let the light in and the dash has the now familiar cascading keyboard. I've never found this the easiest thing to use but it's compact and eventually all becomes clear. The leather-covered seats look fab and are very comfortable and supportive. Thanks to multi-electrical adjustment I was able to achieve a really relaxed driving position as was the Lady Wife who likes to lower the seat for a more ladylike exit.
Volvo make some bold claims about the safety of their vehicles and with some justification. Typically for the Swedish company, the car feels like it is hewn from a solid lump of metal and is beautifully finished. As mentioned, our test motor had a catalogue full of gizmos to protect the occupants. A particular favourite is the BLIS blind spot system the warning lights of which fall well within peripheral vision meaning they can be noticed with having to take eyes off the road.
Reversing camera, front approach warning with auto-brake, cross traffic, pedestrian and cyclist alert, road sign information, lane keeping... on and on the list goes and all designed to keep you and yours safe. It's good; it works, but my favourite is still the hinged boot floor which also serves as a handy outdoor lectern should the mood to study new Volvo cars take you on a whim.
The Volvo V40 is great to drive. Performance is brisk although this car is not in any way a hot hatch; it is far too grand for that sort of nomenclature. I previously mentioned that diesel is the right choice of fuel. I achieved 45mpg (aided by Stop/Start) although, in truth, I spent most of the time in 'Sport' mode, controlling the smooth auto 'box through the well-sited paddles. Not the most economical method but someone determined to squeeze every last mile out of a gallon could resort to the ECO+ button or indeed buy the less-powerful D2 version.
Noise is very well controlled and the engine has none of that clattery diesel racket of old. It’s a pleasantly refined car with the D3 engine providing sufficient grunt and an impressively low 99g/km (Manual gearbox. 104 on the auto tested here). Volvo reckon that 74.3mpg should be on the cards but the drive is so enjoyable it would be hard to actually achieve as I've demonstrated.
A Swedish Smorgasbord Of Goodness then?
Almost. The boot has a high sill and doesn't offer the sort of space you get from some automotive rivals. Rear passengers are not that well served either. There is set belts for five but this is very much a four seat and a perch motor. With the driver's seat set for my height, a reasonably long adult would struggle for leg room. The driver would have to slide forward to give even adequate room. Certainly kids are well catered for (and safe too) but if the plan is to regularly transport big people in the back it's probably best to move up a size of vehicle.
The Volvo V40 is a classy car and so it should be at this money. I liked it very much and would be very pleased to own one. If adult rear seat passengers are unlikely to be carried often then this should be a strong contender to buyers. Volvo plan to extend its range of compact cars into new segments on a new and highly innovative (they say) Compact Modular Architecture which will give them the scope to offer the sort of engineering benefits found in their bigger vehicles. Have a safe journey – as they say in Sweden.
Author: Geoff Maxted