On first appearance, one could be forgiven for mistaking the V40 for an estate car. It has a low roofline and its relatively long rear overhangs give it the presence of a wagon.
Upon further inspection, you find a car not much bigger that an Audi A3 or a BMW 1 Series. It is a look that grows on you until you reach a certain point where you can refer to it a good-looking hatchback.
The segment in which the V40 competes is all about image and dynamics. Audi’s new A3 now features improved dynamic prowess and excellent overall quality, while the 1-Series provides rear-wheel-drive fun in a frugal, classy package.
The Volvo wages into battle with class-leading fuel-consumption figures, sipping a claimed 5.5 litres/100 km, although our figure was slightly higher due to the nature of Johannesburg traffic.
The T4 1.6-litre turbo-petrol motor produces 132kW at 5 700rpm and 240Nm at 1 600 to 5 000rpm. While certainly no hot hatch, the mid-range power delivery and low-down torque mean you are never found wanting.
The V40’s party piece is the amount of safety equipment that can be specified. These include pedestrian airbag technology and -detection, lane-keeping aid with haptic auto steering, adaptive cruise control, park assist, active high beam and a cross-traffic alert system found at the rear.
Other safety features include the driver alert control system that detects if you are tired and the city safety system that prevents low-speed impacts. In the event of an accident, the V40 has knee airbags and a safety cage with deformation zones. The seatbelts feature whiplash protection to lessen impact to your neck.
The interior is a fantastic place to be, with soft-touch materials and overall tangible quality levels being top-notch. The infotainment system also impresses. It features iPod connectivity, auxiliary input, USB as well as Bluetooth.
The V40 has added practicality in the form of rear doors, a feature that was missing from its predecessor. The boot space is truly small for a car of this size though, however the rest of the interior proved more than capacious enough.
The V40 T4 Excel retails for R316 800 which comes with a service plan and warranty, both valid for 5-years/100 000km. Service intervals are every 15 000km.