Volvo V40 (2012-2019) review
The Volvo V40 is a classy and economical alternative to the Audi A3 Sportback, as long as you don't need maximum boot space
The Volvo V40 is a worthy alternative to upmarket family hatchbacks such as the Mercedes A-Class, Audi A3, and VW Golf. It's getting a little long in the tooth now, but the hatchback is still one of Volvo’s biggest sellers, which is due in part to its versatility.
The wide range of engines available, all of which return strong economy and offer decent performance, add to the appeal of the Swedish hatch. On the road, the V40 handles well and refinement inside the cabin lives up to Volvo’s premium brand status.
The diesel models are suited to longer motorway journeys, and what’s more, the V40 has an excellent stereo system and comfortable seats helping make those long journeys more bearable. However, the infotainment system is looking a little behind the times, especially when compared to those in some of its closest rivals.
As hatchbacks go, the V40 isn’t the most spacious five-door on the market. The boot isn’t particularly great for this class and larger passengers in the back will struggle, as space is at a premium. On top of this, insurance is surprisingly expensive, but the sporty R-Design models do hold on to their value well. A big selling point is the advanced safety kit included in the V40, which is some of the best on the market.
Car group tests
- MINI Countryman vs Audi Q2 vs Volvo V40 Cross Country
- Audi A3 Sportback vs Volvo V40 vs Volkswagen Golf
Used car tests
The Volvo V40 (and its V40 Cross Country offshoot), is the smallest Volvo for sale in the UK. While the name used to adorn the estate version of the old S40 saloon, the current V40 was launched as an all-new five-door hatchback in 2012. That means it's now one of the longer lived premium hatchbacks on the market, but a competitive price and decent equipment mean it's still worth considering.
Rivals for the V40 initially comprised the Audi A3, BMW 1 Series, Lexus CT and Mercedes A-Class. But as mainstream hatchbacks have moved upmarket, other cars have muscled in on the sector. Chief among them is the Volkswagen Golf, while top-spec versions of the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and Peugeot 308 are hot on the Volvo's heels.
Like the rest of the Volvo range, the V40 comes in Momentum, R-Design and Inscription trims, while the Cross Country is considered a separate model from the rest of the range. All cars are pretty well equipped, with automatic LED headlights, rain sensing wipers, climate control, sat-nav infotainment with DAB radio, Bluetooth and hard drive storage fitted as standard on all models. And with prices ranging from around £23,000 to a touch under £30,000, the V40 falls somewhere between its premium and family hatchback rivals on price, so is reasonably good value considering the kit that you get.
Engines are badged D2 and D3 for the diesels and T2 and T3 for the turbocharged petrols (there have also been D4, T4 and T5 models in the past). These are all 2.0-litre units, unless you choose an auto gearbox for the T2 or T3, in which case you get a 1.5-litre motor. All cars are front-wheel drive, including the Cross Country (you could only ever get the now-discontinued T5 with 4WD), while six-speed manual or auto boxes are offered with all engines.
When the V40 was launched in 2012, it earned the highest Euro NCAP percentage score ever to go with its five-star rating. Its suite of safety kit includes an industry-first pop-up bonnet designed to protect pedestrians in the event of a collision. Even today the V40 is one of the safest cars for sale in the UK, while an update in 2016 added the 'Thor's Hammer' daytime running light signature first seen on the XC90, bringing Volvo's small hatch into line with the rest of the line-up.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Volvo V40 is a classy and economical alternative to the Audi A3 Sportback, as long as you don't need maximum boot space
- 2Engines, performance and driveEfficient D4 diesel packs a punch, but V40 is safe and secure rather than being exciting to drive
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsEngine range is efficient to deliver decent running costs
- 4Interior, design and technologyRefined and comfortable interior marred by over-complicated infotainment and fiddly sat nav
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThe V40 is very comfortable, but cabin storage, rear seat space and boot capacity are all a little lacking
- 6Reliability and SafetyThe V40 has peerless safety credentials, while ownership should be relatively hassle-free