Volvo V40 D4

25 Jun, 2012 12:45pm Damion Smy

We hit the road in the most powerful diesel-engined Volvo V40


The most powerful diesel-engined V40 in the range delivers a strong blend of performance, efficiency and driver appeal. However, a BMW 120d is even faster and more economical. If you don’t want to run a BMW – and there are plenty who don’t – the V40 offers a well equipped, stylish and very safe package.

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. 

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I don't get that three star rating as the only negative you have is that it is a bit pricey. Also, you only compare base prices with the BMW - but in reality is is the similarly specced prices that are interesting, and as you said, the Volvo is well specced.

I appreciate that the BMW has more BHP but the Volvo has nearly 20% more TORQUE.

Torque is the type of power we use in the UK as directly relates to acceleration. Do you have the figures for accelerating say from 50-70 in a given gear? That would be a more valid comparison than 0-62.

Maybe you could actually test drive a car instead of lifting information from manufacturers spec guides?

I've only registered to comment under this article. Clearly the writer is heavily biased. Try to spec up the 120d to the same level as the Volvo and get an official quote from the dealership. There will definitely be a big difference, and Volvo won't be the more expensive one.

As the owner of an X1 2.0xd and an S60 D5 I would also like to state that another big difference between the two engines is that the five-cylinder Volvo engine sounds much better.
Also worth noting that the seats in Volvo are much better than in the X1 (although they are sports seats).

Why did it get 3 star rating then?

anchovie1 - since when was 13.6% "nearly 20%"?

This isn't a significant enough difference to account for weight or transmission losses, and I strongly suspect the 4-cyclinder BMW lump is lighter than the 5-cyl Volvo - certainly the 8-speed auto in the BMW is state-of-the-art and more advanced than the 6-speed Volvo - which is probably why a 120d is both faster and more economical.

I don't understand what Volvo are up to. Volvo's USP has always been comfort and practicality. They now seem determined to alienate this group of buyers in order to chase after a sporty market. But buyers who want sporty will buy BMW or Audi. So who is going to buy a cramped Volvo with a tiny boot?

When you drive a BMW and a Volvo everything explains.
Or put them side by side..

For those who wonder why buying a Volvo and not a BMW: look who drives a 5 year old BMW and who drives a Volvo of any age. You got the point?

First of all the BMW has a smaller boot. Surely smaller room in the back. Secondly try to match specs...You can make a korean car more expensive than a german one if you add stuff anyday.

Thirdly three star rating for such an accomplished car is a disgrace for autoexpress. If left with any logic at all it should be changed now.

You might need to read a less biased reviews of the V40 to get the full picture

The fact is this is a very credible rival to the BMW 1 series and A3. I have been driving a BMW 118d for the last 18 months, previously I drove a 520d and an A4.
About to change my company car I was going to go for the latest BMW 1 series but to be fair it is the ugliest car on the road at present. Both the 1 series and A3 are significantly more expensive in similar spec to buy and run (the A3 is £900 a year more expensive). Plus the A3 is far too samey, I bought an A4 in 2003, in the last 9 years they have done nothing to the shape of the A3 or A4. Also I'm banking on the government shifting the lowest taxed cars to 95g/km in the next year, in this class only the V40 comes in lower than this at 94g/km. Which means it's still a good chance it's free of the congestion charge, saving another £2.5k saving in future years.
For me it's a no brainer, that's why I placed an order yesterday for a new V40. Who knows the new Merc A-class might be a winner next year with it's Renault engine?!
And by the way I'm 26 and work in Marketing for a brilliant young alcoholic drinks company, it's probably time the Volvo old man stereotypes died.

Key specs

  • Price: £26,280
  • Engine: 2.0-litre 5cyl
  • Power/torque: 175bhp/440Nm
  • Transmission: Six-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 8.3 seconds
  • Top speed: 134mph
  • Economy: 54.3mpg
  • CO2: 136g/km
  • Equipment: Bluetooth, pedestrian airbag, sat-nav, stop-start
  • On sale: July