Volvo V40 review : Executive hatchback leads class for safety


  • Smart Swedish style
  • Very safe
  • Rides and handles well


  • Some gearbox complaints
  • Firm ride on larger wheels
  • Pricey

The Volvo V40 is a small premium hatchback that is praised for its safety. In 2015 it was given a new range of engines and a revised equipment list.

The V40’s closest rivals are the Audi A3, the Mercedes A-Class and the BMW 1 SeriesPrices start from £19,345/$29,017 and if you buy your new V40 using carwow you can save a whopping £3,180/$4,770 on average.

The V40’s interior is well made and the polished aluminium trim on the ‘floating’ centre console make for a premium atmosphere. However, the sea of buttons on the dashboard can take time to get used to. Passenger space, meanwhile, is good and the boot about average for the class.

The V40 is really nice to drive – critics compare it to the best-in-class Focus and the ride quality is also good. Although bigger wheels and the optional sports suspension make it a little too firm for UK roads. 

Six engines are available for the V40, but the standout favourite is the D4 diesel. It’s not only very cheap to run, but also quick.

Entry level ES models are generously equipped with climate control, alloy wheels, DAB digital radio and the most comprehensive range of safety systems in its class. It even has a dedicated airbag for pedestrians.

Why not check out the colours available using our Volvo V40 colours guide and see if it offers enough interior space with our Volvo V40 dimensions guide.

Cheapest to buy: T2 ES petrol

Cheapest to run: D2 SE Lux Nav diesel

Fastest model: T5 R-Design Lux Nav Geartronic petrol

Most popular: D4 R-Design diesel

Volvo V40 passenger space

Space all round is very good, but like most cars in its class three adults will feel squeezed on the back seat. That said, the seats themselves are supremely comfortable with support, seemingly, in all the right places. Specifying the panoramic sunroof reduces headroom, so might not be the best idea if you are particularly tall.

Volvo V40 boot space

The boot, though a bit narrow, is plenty large enough for the class standard. It has a capacity of 335 litres with the rear seats up, folding them down increases the load space to 1,032 litres.

Volvo’s don’t have a great reputation for providing an engaging driving experience, but the V40 looks to change that. It’s based on the fun-to-drive Ford Focus and as a result comes complete with direct steering that makes the car easy to place in corners and suspension that does a decent job of resisting body lean.

What it doesn’t offer however, is the Ford’s well judged ride comfort that makes it both enjoyable in corners and comfortable on bumpy roads. R-Design versions of the V40, with their lowered suspension and big wheels, are the least comfortable of all.

Steer onto the motorway, though, and this is soon forgotten. At higher speeds the car deals better with bumps and reveals itself to be a quiet cruiser. Factor in its very comfortable seats and the two combine to make the V40 one of the best models in class if you cover a huge mileage.

In 2015 the Volvo V40 was given an all new range of engines. Called Drive-E they lower running costs across the range and the most economical model, the diesel D2, can return fuel economy of 78.5mpg and is free to tax.

Volvo V40 diesel engines

Nevertheless, our pick of the range is the D4 diesel. It’s also free to tax, while its reduced fuel economy of 74.3mpg is offset by a significant power hike up from 120hp to 190hp. As a result it accelerates from 0-62mph in just 7.4 seconds and is a sprightly overtaker even at motorway speeds. The 150hp D3 sits in the middle of the diesel range, getting from a standstill to 62mph in 8.4 seconds, while matching the running costs of the D4.

Volvo V40 petrol engines

There’re three petrol models to choose from – the T2, T3 and T5. The T2 kicks of the range offering 120hp, fuel economy of 51.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 127g/km that translate into road tax of £110/$165 a year. With 152hp the T3 gets from 0-62mph in 8.3 seconds (the T2 does it in 9.8) but shares the cheaper models running costs.

If it’s performance you’re after, though, the T5 is the model to go for. Its 245hp is enough to launch the car from 0-62mph in just 6.4 seconds, but when combined with Volvo’s eight-speed automatic gearbox it can return fuel economy 47.9mpg, although your yearly road tax bill rises to £130/$195.

As you’d expect from a Volvo, the V40 comes packed with all the latest safety tech that the Swedish brand has to offer. The main highlights are the updated ‘City Safety System’ which automatically brakes the car if it notices an obstruction ahead at speeds of up to 31mph, and – a world first for a production car – an airbag for pedestrians that’s located under the bonnet!

It received a full 5 star safety rating from Euro NCAP, and was named the world’s safest car as it got the best ever result in the tests.

Volvo offers the V40 with six trim levels ranging from the entry level ES to the range-topping R-Design Lux, which comes with lots of equipment and sharper looks than basic models. Sat-nav is available across the range for around £800/$1,200, while the Cross Country model adds a rugged edge to the standard car.

Volvo V40 ES

It may be the most basic model in the V40 range, but the standard equipment list on ES models is anything but. Automatic emergency braking is a feature few other rivals offer as standard, rendering the V40 one of the safest models in its class in one fell swoop. It’s a standout feature that joins a kit list that includes DAB digital radio, a five-inch colour display and climate control.

Volvo V40 SE

SE trim brings with it a plusher interior complete with aluminium trim, while additional equipment includes cruise control and electrically folding door mirrors.

Volvo V40 SE Lux

SE Lux boosts the luxury feel of the still further on account of its standard leather seats. It also looks smarter on the outside thanks to 17-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights and powerful Xenon headlights that follow the direction of the steering wheel and include a washing function.

Volvo V40 R-Design

R-Design trim is one of the most popular in the range. Its sportier looks come thanks to unique 17-inch alloy wheels, revised grille design and matt silver door mirrors. Inside, there’re half leather sports seats, a sports steering wheel and a larger eight-inch TFT display.

Volvo V40 R-Design lux

R-Design Lux trim gives the best of both worlds with sporty looks combining with the additional equipment of the SE Lux variant.

Volvo V40 Cross Country

Rugged by name, but not really by nature, the V40 Cross Countryisn’t designed with off-roading in mind. Only top-of-the-range models get grippy four-wheel drive, while basic cars make do with a ride height that has been raised by 40mm, a revised bumper design and black roof rails. Stood next a standard model it looks more distinctive, but most would struggle to notice the difference in isolation.


The V40 is a very capable all-rounder in this fiercely competitive area of the industry.

It’s nice to drive as well as comfortable (when specced with the right wheels) and the stylish design makes it stand out from the crowd. The premium atmosphere in the interior and the good amount of standard equipment only add to the appeal of the hatchback. It may not have a badge as prestigious as the A-Class or 1 Series, but that shouldn’t put you off test driving one.


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