Volvo V40 T3 R-Design

We drive the Volvo V40 T3 R-Design, which blends an EcoBoost engine with a sporty design package

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Thew sportier R-Design package gives the standard V40 a slightly sharper drive and lots more visual punch. It still can’t beat the BMW 1 Series in terms of dynamics, but it feels a more grown-up car overall. The T3 engine is a good compromise between the gas-guzzling five-cylinder T5 and underpowered D2, too.

We drove the best-selling V40 D2 in R-Design spec back in January, and while we loved the sporty design tweaks, the gruff diesel engine didn’t prove to be the ideal match. So does the T3 R-Design, which borrows its EcoBoost engine from Ford, make a more convincing package?

Stretch the 1.6-litre engine’s legs and there’s enough power to have some fun, but the delivery isn’t the smoothest. Unlike Audi’s 2.0 TFSI engine, which delivers a linear band of torque, the T3 can bog down at low revs and then feels peaky when the turbo wakes up. Still, the way this engine revs and sounds definitely suits the R-Design’s more extrovert character better.

Find a twisty road and the handling feels extremely secure, if not particularly agile. Our car was fitted with the £540 optional sports chassis, which stiffens and lowers the suspension by 10mm, and ensures body roll is minimal. It does mean the ride feels slightly lumpy at low speeds, although things smooth out as you up the pace.

Visually, the introduction of slightly chunkier bumpers, 17-inch alloys and a silk metal finish around the grille improves the already stylish V40.

And if you need plenty of equipment, our Lux model adds xenon headlights, leather seats, cruise control and keyless start over the ES spec the R-Design is based on – for an extra £4,050.

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