Volvo V40 (2012-2019) review - Engines, performance and drive
Efficient D4 diesel packs a punch, but V40 is safe and secure rather than being exciting to drive
The Volvo V40 benefits from being based on a development of Ford’s Global C Ford Focus platform. That should mean the V40 handles with similar verve to the Ford Focus Mk3, which is also a derivative of the same platform. However, the V40 uses a lot of bespoke Volvo engineering to ensure it's even safer, while it isn't quite as engaging to drive as the Ford.
That said, the V40 is relatively agile and accurate in the corners, but it errs on the side of safe, rather than exciting. The steering is pretty sharp, however, and body control is pretty tight. It's even relatively comfortable, although the stiffer R-Design models are less forgiving.
The suspension delivers a decent ride on standard models, with good bump absorption around town and a supple ride at speed. Beware that larger wheels do have a negative impact on the V40's ride, though.
The R-Design models have sporty suspension as well as bigger wheels, and both combine to deliver a stiffer ride. This is reflected by the mixed score the V40 has for ride quality in the Driver Power owner satisfaction survey.
The V40's petrol and diesel engine line-up has been revised over time. At the 2016 update, there were T2, T3 and T5 turbo petrols, and D2, D3 and D4 diesels, but the most powerfull of these are no longer offered. All engines are four-cylinder units, and Volvo has gradually phased out the older Ford-sourced engines in favour of its own designs.
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The diesels are 2.0-litres in capacity, with 118bhp or 148bhp. The T2 and T3 petrol models get a 2.0-litre engine if you pick the six-speed manual gearbox, but the Geartronic auto comes with a 1.5-litre engine. Either way, the T2 has 120bhp, and the T3 has 150bhp.
The pick of the range are the diesels. Volvo’s latest D2 engine is pretty rattly at idle, but it smooths out at speed and it delivers decent performance. The 148bhp D3 is the pick of the range as it has the best spread of torque (320Nm from 1,750-3,000rpm).
Both diesels are offered with an optional six-speed automatic gearbox; there is a fuel economy penalty, but performance is slightly better and the gearbox itself shifts smoothly and always seems to be in the right gear. The core six-speed manual that’s standard across the V40 range is a decent enough box, but has a bit of a vague and slightly loose shift.
Volvo’s 2.0-litre T2 and T3 petrol engines are impressive. They pull well from low revs: the T2 offers peak torque of 220Nm from just 1,100rpm, all the way to 3,500rpm. As with the diesels, there are six-speed manual or auto gearboxes, but even though the autos are quicker, we prefer the shift of the manual box here.
In this review
- 1Volvo V40 (2012-2019) reviewThe 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 drive - currently readingEfficient 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