Volvo has a deserved reputation for being at the forefront of car safety, but I’m amazed at the long list of occupant and pedestrian protection kit fitted to our new V40. In fact, I think the only way you could make yourself even safer is to be bundled up in a layer of bubble wrap.
The equipment tally includes side-impact protection, anti-whiplash headrests, electronic stability and traction control and seatbelt pre-tensioners. There are also two-stage driver and passenger airbags, a driver’s kneebag and curtain airbags – plus, if the worst happens and a pedestrian steps into the Volvo’s path, there’s an airbag for them, too. But then, the V40’s multiple sensors try to prevent such an accident happening in the first place.
It has City Safety – Volvo’s hi-tech autobrake system that even detects pedestrians, and is set to be the next big step in car safety. Safety body Euro NCAP clearly thinks all this tech is worthwhile, as it gave the V40 its best-ever score. I’ve yet to use the kit, although with all the errant pedestrians roaming the streets near our London office, it can be only a matter of time before City Safety is called into action.
In the meantime, the V40 has made a good first impression. Our car comes in smart Ice White paint, and the bold nose, with its gaping grille and sharp lines, really stands out. There are creases along the side, and the kick in the rear passenger doors adds a touch of style.
Unfortunately, I’m not as keen on the tail. A large gloss black section makes it look similar to that of the Volvo C30, but the rear window is really quite small. Again, our V40 has that covered, thanks to the £850 Park Assist Pilot, which automatically backs the car into a space.
Inside, it all looks hi-tech and everything feels well built. The stylish dash is logically laid-out and the optional full-colour Active TFT screen is crystal-clear and well worth the extra £350. Rear seat space could be better, though, and the boot is only 335 litres, which is smaller than that of a BMW 1 Series.
Our car does have an optional false load floor and divider, however, and the spare wheel has been ditched for a repair kit, leaving extra space under the boot floor. Finally, when you fold the seats the headrests collapse at the same time, and the 1,032-litre flat luggage area is very useful. With a baby due in November, I’m sure I’ll be stretching this carrying ability to the limit very soon...
On the road, the Volvo is a comfortable cruiser. The seats are some of the best in the business and the car is quiet and refined, although the ride doesn’t quite smooth out the worst bumps. And there’s even more safety kit to keep the V40 on the straight and narrow.
Lane Keep Assist, part of the £1,850 Driver Support Pack, warns if you’re straying from your motorway lane, and even adjusts the wheel to compensate. A speed limit-recognition system displays a limit reminder on the dash, while other sensors keep track of the distance between you and the car in front, then sound a warning if they think a collision is imminent. And if the worst does happen, the £550 Volvo On Call set-up will automatically connect you to the emergency services.
So the V40’s safety credentials are second to none. I just hope I don’t have the opportunity to use them any time soon...
"The V40 is a breath of fresh air in the family hatch class. Stylish and packed with neat details, it’s a refreshing alternative to the usual contenders.”
James Disdale, Road test editor
“I hope Volvo does well with this hatchback. The car’s overall look is attractive. I think the brand will sell a lot of them – and rightly so.”
The_Eccentric, via www.autoexpress.co.uk