"Over the course of the year, we had plenty of tiny citycars that haven't been able to replicate the running cost returns of my V40."
How much can a car be defined by its engine? It's something I've been considering afresh as I prepare to hand Volvo back the keys for the V40 D4 long term testcar we've been running since the beginning of the year. Using this car has been a real eye-opener. It's one thing to see stats on paper: 190PS along with 74.3mpg on the combined cycle and 99g/km of CO2. Another though, to experience them as part of ownership. This really has been one of the most affordable cars I've ever run: and it's in every sense very much a luxury-orientated compact car. Remarkable. Over the course of the year, we had plenty of tiny citycars that haven't been able to replicate the running cost returns of my V40. They all cost more to tax too. That this Volvo can deliver all of this, yet still get to 62mph in under 8 seconds never fails to surprise me. The 60-litre fuel tank gives a touring range of around 975 miles and that CO2 figure means you don't have to pay for road tax. It's all good. Has it been a perfect ownership experience? Well not quite. There have been a few fiddly build quality issues; one of the cheap plastic attachments that allow the parcelshelf to sit properly has broken, so it rattles around a bit. Apart from that though, there's been virtually nothing to grouse about. But then, I suppose you'd have a right to expect that level of quality from what is, after all, a £25,000 car. That a decent slug of money but it's certainly hard to argue with the amount of gear you get as standard. Like some Audi models, the interior looks a bit sparse but there's actually quite a lot built in. Mine was an SE version which is just one off the base model but it came complete with Volvo's City Safety system, a pedestrian Airbag, Bluetooth, DAB, stability control and leather trim for the steering wheel and gear knob. The 16-inch alloy wheels aren't bad but look a bit lost amongst the V40's hefty rear flanks. Still, they help fulfil the car's stealth remit better than a set of bling 19s.
There's also textile/T-Tec upholstery, aluminium trim, cruise control and front door tread plates on the inside, auto folding door mirrors, ground lights and chrome exterior trim. Are there things I would change? Of course: this V40 isn't perfect. Some of the stalks feel a little cheap and headroom is a little pinched in the rear with narrow rear door apertures, but features such as the rubberised microswitch tailgate release, the full TFT graphic instrument panel and the deft piano black-framed door mirrors keep the design balance well into credit. The boot is a decent size at 335-litres and features a hidden underfloor section to keep documents and valuables out of sight. One final niggle? Well, as with the last Volvo I ran as a long termer, I could do without the symphony of warning chimes. Yes, Volvo, I know you value safety and that you'll do anything to tick every box on the EuroNCAP test but it's time to take a step back and reassess. Otherwise, I was very much impressed by this car. Whatever comes next will almost certainly be more expensive to run and less well suited to my lifestyle. I'm missing the V40 already...
Facts at a Glance
FACTS AT A GLANCE CAR: Volvo V40 D4 PRICE: from £24,970 INSURANCE GROUP: 26 CO2 EMISSIONS: 99g/km PERFORMANCE: 0-62mph 7.4s / top speed 143mph FUEL CONSUMPTION: (combined) 74.3mpg STANDARD SAFETY FEATURES: ABS with EBA & EBD, twin front, side, knee and curtain airbags, ESP stability control, Rollover Protection System WILL IT FIT IN YOUR GARAGE?: Length/Width/Height mm 4369/1783/1420 WHO TO SEE: