In short, this is a stylish five door family hatchback that aims to lure premium buyers with its contemporary styling and sophisticated technology. The V40 will be launched in the UK in July 2012 and will start at prices a whisker under £19,000.
Make no doubt this is a very stylish car and, with the exception of the current beauty queen, the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, it suddenly makes other hatchbacks seem incredibly dull, yes we’re looking at you Audi A3, Volkswagen Golf.
There are beautiful touches all over, from the smart LED Daytime Running Lights (DRLs) under the front bumper, to the ‘boomerang’ LED lights that rise up into the rear pillar and the way the darkened rear glass blends to form the boot design. Very smart indeed.
This is a very attractive interior and it’s all executed with typical Swedish contemporary grace. The trademark Volvo ‘floating’ centre console makes an appearance. Why floating you may ask? Well it is a thin piece of solid metal that houses all the media/climate control functions behind which is empty space, so it gives the impression that it’s floating in mid-air. Basically, it just looks cool.
A particular nice touch is the frameless rear design mirror. According to its designer, Maria Uggler, it is the one automotive feature that has remained un-designed for some time. Not sure about that, but it certainly looks classy and that is the best word to sum up this interior.
Volvo promise that the driver has not been forgotten with the new V40 and have taken active steps to give the car a dynamic edge. The steering, for example, has been set up to provide better feel (feedback through the steering wheel which provides the driver with information about what the front driving wheels are doing) than its formidable sporting rival, the BMW 1 Series. A sports suspension setup is also available dependent upon which trim level is selected.
Safety technology has always been a big deal for Volvo and the V40 continues this theme with the introduction of the world’s first pedestrian airbag. If sensors detect a pedestrian collision, pyrotechnic devices react to push up the bonnet hinges allowing an airbag to deploy to cover the windscreen and front pillars.
There is also an upgrade to the blind spot monitor (which provides a warning to the driver if he/she pulls out into a traffic lane that is already occupied) that uses radar rather than camera technology. And, if that wasn’t enough, there is also a system that prevents you from veering out of your lane on the motorway by steering the car back inline. Big brother really is watching!
Volvo and practicality are two words that you associate with one another and that association is still relevant here. The good news is that interior space is at least equal to that of its rivals. Rear leg and headroom is tight if you are over six feet but if you are not a giant of the world, it will be just fine. Room up front is plentiful and the feeling of spaciousness is complimented by the panoramic glassroof (optional extra).
There’s a resurgence going on right now at Volvo and this new V40 is testament to that. Mark my words, Volvo will be the producer of many desirable cars over the coming years and this is certainly one of them!
We will be undertaking a thorough test review of the Volvo V40 once press cars are available so keep an eye out for our write up on:
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© Nick Johnson Car Journalist & Vehicle Consultant