VOLVO has always made safe cars for the sensible type. Although they come off as slightly antiseptic, it’s still baffling that they sell so few cars in South Africa. The new V40 is one of its safest yet and this time there isn’t a bottle of Savlon in sight.
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.