Volvo V40 Cross Country review
The Volvo V40 Cross Country gets rugged styling and a raised ride height
Volvo is famous for taking standard models, such as the V70 estate, and giving it an off-road flavour to create the XC70. The V40 Cross Country (Volvo is saving the XC40 badge for a standalone small SUV) follows the same formula by taking the five-door V40 hatch as a starting point, jacking up the suspension for extra ground clearance and adding extra cladding to the bodywork. With its price an extra £1,000 over the standard car, the Cross Country ‘package’ is excellent value and is even more comfortable to drive than the standard car thanks to extra suspension travel and a raised view of the road ahead. The full range of turbocharged petrol and diesel engines are available, although only the range-topping 250bhp 2.5-litre turbocharged model comes with four-wheel drive.
Our choice: V40 Cross Country D2
Considering the minimal mechanical changes, the Cross Country is essentially all about style. Fortunately, Volvo has integrated the additional bodywork into the design extremely well. Silver roof rails are added, which give the impression of extra height, while a chunky black plastic front bumper has LED daytime running lights built in. Metal side sills, the raised ride height, a new rear bumper and metal skid plates at the front and back all add to the tougher image. You won’t find any changes to the interior.
We’re fans of the V40’s excellent refinement and assured handling already, and from behind the wheel the V40 Cross Country feels much the same. The extra 40mm of suspension height makes a difference, helping the car to float over small imperfections and round off bigger jolts. The extra height will help the V40 tackle an overgrown country lane, but by no means make it an off-roader. In fact, only one model, the thirsty 250bhp 2.5-litre five-cylinder range-topper gets four-wheel drive, but that’s likely to sell in small numbers in the UK. On the road the steering could be quicker and sharper, and although there’s more body roll than the standard car it clings on well in corners. There’s a fair bit of torque steer in the higher-powered front-wheel drive models, but overall it’s a calm and composed car to drive.
Volvo might not produce the most exciting cars on the market, but you can rest assured that what you’re buying is near the top of the pack when it comes to safety and reliability. As expected, the V40 received the full five stars in its Euro NCAP crash test (which applies to the Cross Country, too) – in fact it was rated as the safest car Euro NCAP has ever tested. Part of that is down to its broad suite of safety systems, which include a low-speed auto brake function and the world’s first pedestrian airbag. In our 2012 Driver Power reliability survey Volvo finished 10th out of the top 30 manufacturers.
There are more spacious cars in the V40’s class, but it’s an acceptable price to pay for the eye-catching design. The Cross Country adds an extra layer of practicality, with its improved ground clearance, but inside it’s identical to the standard car. That means rear headroom is a little tight, and there’s a 335-litre boot out back – 15 litres down on the new VW Golf. It’s a relatively narrow space too, with a small opening, but a false floor that creates a tiered storage system goes someway towards making up for that. All the seats are supportive and comfortable, although there’s a lack of large cubby holes and storage pockets on the inside. Overall though, assuming your passengers aren’t giants, it’s a comfortable car to cover big distances in, with space for a modest amount of luggage.
Volvo has a broad range of engines to choose from and has worked hard to eek out as much fuel economy from each as possible - even the thirstiest five-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine returns around 35mpg. It’s the diesels that make most sense in the Cross Country though, delivering excellent mid-range acceleration and rock bottom fuel consumption. Most economical is the 113bhp 1.6-litre D2, which delivers 74mpg and 99g/km of CO2, while the D3 and D4 both get 2.0-litre five-cylinder engines. The D4, which packs a big punch and 0-62mph time of 8.6 seconds still returns 64.2mpg and 117g/km of CO2. If you like the looks, the Cross Country package represents good value, although the standard car is still quite expensive to buy – it will depreciate faster than the BMW 1 Series, Audi A3 and Mercedes A-Class, too.