Fast diesels can offer it all – the performance to outpace a hot hatch, but the potential to return 50mpg. So is this D4 version of the new Volvo V40 the pick of the range?
Under the bonnet of the BMW 120d rival is a 175bhp 2.0-litre five-cylinder turbodiesel engine – and with a gutsy 440Nm of torque from only 1,750rpm, it’s very responsive indeed.
The 0-62mph benchmark takes 8.3 seconds, but what’s more significant is the overtaking urge; all you have to do is flex your foot and you’re past slower traffic. Volvo’s Geartronic automatic helps. It has six well spaced gears and gels impressively with the warbly five-cylinder engine, making for a smooth, fast car.
It’s economical, too. Volvo claims 54.3mpg and 136g/km of CO2 for the Geartronic, although the six-speed manual version is even more efficient, promising 65.7mpg and 114g/km.
There’s plenty of grip, and the ride is comfortable. Add precise steering and you might think the V40 D4 has it all sewn up. But our mid-specification SE Nav model costs £26,280. That’s a lot of money when you consider a BMW 120d Sport auto is £26,210 and is faster (0-62mph in 7.3 seconds), more powerful (181bhp), more efficient (62.8mpg and 119g/km) and even more fun to drive.
That said, our test car was well equipped. SE Nav brings satellite navigation, 17-inch alloy wheels, self-levelling headlamps and a roof-mounted rear spoiler, along with chrome window surrounds.
The V40’s interior looks classy, and is high-quality and logical to use, too. The seats are comfortable, the dashboard clearly laid out with a five-inch display screen, USB and iPod connectivity, while the floating centre console is still a neat touch, despite its advancing years.
Safety kit includes a pedestrian airbag – a first on a production car – plus curtain airbags and the City Safety emergency braking system as standard. Room in the back is just about adequate, too, although six-foot passengers might find headroom to be a bit tight.
So is the D4 the pick of the V40 range? Not really. It’s fast, but pricey. We reckon that the lower-powered D2 and D3 diesels are better all-rounders.