THE stylish new image and very efficient powertrains in cars from Swedish manufacturer Volvo such as the very shapely V40 hatchback are a complete contrast to the square brick shaped Volvos produced by the company many years ago writes Bryan Longworth.
However, it must be remembered that those old Volvos helped to establish the company as a producer of premium and very safe cars and now Chinese owned Volvo has successfully moved on to produce stylish quality cars with the new range of Drive-E powertrains that have very low emissions and improved fuel consumptions.
The new four cylinder engines are now available for the V40 and the CO2 emissions of the 2.0-litre 190hp V40 D4 with manual transmissions are down to 85g/km which are so low that no competitor is even close to matching them.
I have just been testing the V40 D4 Geartronic SE Lux Nav which is the automatic version with the new diesel engine and while the CO2 emissions have risen slightly to a still impressive 109g/km the fuel consumption is 67.3mpg with a top speed of 143mph and a zero to 60mph time of seven seconds.
This model starts at £27,770 but the test car was loaded with options costing around £10,000 which included the automatic transmission with start/stop, winter pack, driver support pack plus xenium pack that includes fixed panoramic sunroof, park assist pilot and rear camera.
Volvo cars have always been very safe and the test car was no exception with some of the optional kit including a system to warn the driver of crossing traffic from the sides and another that warns of pedestrians and cyclists and automatically applies the brakes if necessary.
The V40 has very striking styling that is among the best in this class and which will attract more younger owners to the marque providing it with plenty of kerb appeal but a word of caution to drivers with models fitted with the low profile tyres on the 18 inch alloy wheels be very careful when driving near kerbs to prevent damaging the alloys!
Inside the leather clad and very comfortable interior there is a top quality ambience in keeping with the Volvo reputation for producing premium cars and I liked the user friendly switches and instruments especially the central digital speedometer which also shows speed limits next to the digital speed indicator although sometimes the speed limits were not correct.
I frequently bang on about speedometers in road test cars because it is surprising just how many are difficult to see considering they are a such an important piece of kit and the speedo in the V40 is the best in the business and is a perfect example to other manufacturers of what they should install in their cars.
There was a nice precise feel about the steering which helped to make the driving experience so enjoyable and the new diesel engine provides a smooth and eager power output linked with the eight speed automatic transmission in driving the front wheels.
The hatchback provides easy access to a very roomy load area and under this there is a space saver spare wheel which is much more reassuring to the driver than a repair kit should there be a puncture.
The V40 with the refined new engine is an excellent example of just how Volvo has maintained its position as a producer of premium cars that can compete at the highest level especially with those quality rivals from Germany.
Model: Volvo V40 D4 Geartronic SE Lux Nav.
Engine: 2.0-litre four cylinder turbodiesel.
Transmission: Eight speed automatic.
Top speed: 143mph.
Acceleration: 0 to 60mph seven seconds.
Fuel consumption: 67.3 mpg combined.
CO2 emissions: 109g/km.
Price: £27,770 on the road.