Cruising With The Volvo V40 D4 Cross Country

The test car impressed from the outset. It looks great, is very comfortable and, with the four-cylinder D4 2.0L turbo-diesel engine nestled in the front, gets up the road beautifully. This Volvo, like others from the brand I’ve driven recently, feels planted and dependable – that’s the only way I can put it.

The V40 Cross Country makes for an interesting proposition. With the powerful D4 motor producing 187bhp and the 0-62mph sprint being dispatched in just 7.7 seconds, the Swedish company have done extraordinarily well in keeping CO² down to a mere 104g/km, despite this being the most powerful diesel on offer; driving through, in this case, a six-speed manual ‘box. (An automatic is available).

Let’s start with the good news. The V40 D4 is fast yet subtle. No roaring fire-breather this; it goes about its business quietly and unobtrusively and you are slightly surprised to find how far you’ve travelled in a short space of time. Fortunately there’s a big digital speed reading right in the centre of the rev counter and it will pay to keep an eye on it, legally speaking.

It’s a turbo-diesel so you need 1800rpm or so before it really gets going. It serves no purpose to push it to the red line – this car is about smart shifts and smooth driving. Go over the top and the front tyres can’t always cope with the full torque portion of 295lb/ft. Be over-eager and the wheels will scrabble for grip – not an unfamiliar scenario with front-drivers. Steering is fine, if a bit bland, and the, albeit long-throw, gear shift is accurate. Unusually, I liked the handbrake positioning on the passenger side, making it easy to reach and use. Normally I prefer the handbrake right by me.

Volvo’s official consumption figure for this car is 70mpg with Stop/Start fitted. For our week, including delivery mileage, we managed 39.7mpg. That’s not as bad as it looks by the way. The DW test route is very varied and all the while the car was being put through its paces. Otherwise the V40 made a lot of short trips, often in urban traffic. I reckon this figure will shoot up on a long trip under normal driving conditions with much more time spent in the sixth gear.

Really, the Cross Country is just a high-riding version of the regular V40. Nevertheless, the handling is very good. A touch of understeer maybe if pushed but overall I found the car to be very comfortable. Mrs DriveWrite honoured it with her official seal of approval so that’s all right then. On the longer DriveWrite test route which takes in everything from motorway to country lane the Volvo V40 Cross Country settled down to a comfortable fast cruise, and the suspension, whilst being not too soft, smoothed out the lumps and bumps of our ruined roads.

Volvo interiors have always been a strong point, with excellent fit and finish, comfortable seats – in this case – in a fetching two tone leather. Elsewhere there are smart, soft-touch plastics and an attractive and well laid out dash. The optional (must-have) fixed panoramic sunroof makes inside a nice, light place to be. This isn’t a huge car but the 324L boot is perfectly adequate and hides a proper space-saver spare. For a hatchback, maybe the boot lip could be lower.

SE Nav models get a 7.0-inch colour display, Bluetooth, USB, CD, multifunction steering wheel, climate and cruise plus navigation. Our car was in Lux Nav trim which adds a whole host of extras – so many in fact that I’ve added a specification sheet below rather than list them all here. It might just be me (and probably is) but all the tech kit available is a tad confusing and tricky to use. It took me the full week to really get to grips with everything. I will however give a special mention to the Volvo Blind Spot System (BLIS / Part of the Driver Support Pack) which is brilliantly sited at the corner of the front window.

If I’m honest, I have to wonder if the extra cost of this car is worth it over the standard V40 with the same D4 engine. At basic ticket price this isn’t a cheap car. With all the extras on board as featured it costs a wallet-clenching £37,400. That’s a lot. Certainly Volvo’s have never been cheap and the quality standard is up there with the best as usual and yet…

If it came with four-wheel drive I could understand it but as things are at the moment 4WD is only available on the range-topping petrol version. That seems like an oversight for a car called Cross Country. Still, some may like the higher ride and the trim package does make the V40 stand out from the crowd of regular hatches.

So; very well equipped as standard with an impressively low CO² output and smooth long-legged ability, the Volvo V40 D4 Cross Country may be tempting to some and will certainly find favour with Volvo fans. It’s just the price really but that issue aside, this is a very fine car.
Geoff Maxted