ROAD TEST REPORT AND REVIEW: Volvo V40 R-Design and Cross Country
As Volvo expands its V40 range, KEITH WARD drives the smart Volvo V40 R-Design and Cross Country
VOLVO have added two special versions to their admired V40 range which is already out to challenge the likes of the VW Golf, Audi A3, BMW 1-Series and Mercedes A-Class among posher family hatchbacks.
The newcomers present the ups and downs of alternatives to the standard V40: The R-Design offers an optional sports chassis sitting a slight 10mm lower than normal; the Cross Country comes with a ride height raised by up to 40mm. Each also boasts unique cosmetic features.
They are available with most if not all of the engines – two petrol and three diesel – introduced with the new V40 last year. So emissions as low as 94 g/km. And they include Volvo’s usual array of safety features including the world’s first pedestrian airbag.
We tried both recently over a variety of rain-soaked and puddle-strewn road routes in the UK which examined some of the V40’s claimed credentials in stability and safety, among other features.
First, the R-Design sporty makeover has been seen over the years in the S60, V60, V70, XC60 and XC90. The V40 version wears unique front and rear bumpers with a low front spoiler and new vertical LED day-running lights, a silk-metal framed grille with R-Design logo, twin tail-pipes with chrome surround and five-spoke 17″ alloys. And get this you car nerds – body coloured washer jet nozzles.
A body colour dubbed Rebel Blue is exclusive to the R-Design, with a radiant blue instrument display.
Inside, unique R-Design features include logo-embossed seats and leather-clad sports steering wheel plus an illuminated gear-knob and sports pedals. Headlining, roof panels, sun visors and upper switch panels are finished in black.
The tapered “floating” centre instrument stack, a Volvo trademark, gets in the R-Design a chrome frame, matched by facings at various points around the cabin.
With the optional R-Design sports chassis the ride height is lowered by 10mm, with beefed-up springs and dampers. The front McPherson struts have 25mm piston rods which allows them to absorb lateral loads better. The anti-roll bars also have an increased diameter.
The V40 R-Design is available with the same engine choice as the V40, with start/stop technology regardless of gearbox – five or six-speed, manual or auto. In the UK, diesel is likely to account for over 80 per cent of sales.
Most popular of the diesel units is expected to be the 115 bhp 1.6-litre four-cylinder D2 we tried, taking just over 60 per cent of orders. In a car showing all the Volvo virtues of solidity, safety and comfort, it is an appealing proposition. With figures of 115 mph and 0-60 in 11.2 seconds it is no racer, despite the sporty make-up.
However, it emits as little as 94g/km CO2, so a tax-free annual disc, and rates 78.5 mpg on the combined cycle. This makes the Benefit in Kind (BIK) company car tax a lowly £43 a month for 20% tax payers. It will still benefit from 100% first-year write-down allowance after April’s tax banding change, point out Volvo.
The V40 R-Design offers a choice of two trim levels, R-Design and R-Design Lux. Prices start from £22,295 on the road for the V40 D2 R-Design, up to £31,390 for the V40 T5 R-Design Lux Nav Geartronic.
Next, the V40 Cross Country brings with it a butch look with a badge first used in the late 1990‘s on the V70. As well as the loftier ride height, depending on which engine and wheels you choose, there is an option at the top of the price list for four-wheel-drive.
The re-designed front bumper houses new vertical day-running lights, a unique larger honeycomb grille and a front skid plate. The rear bumper has a silver-coloured plastic skid plate with ‘Cross Country’ moulded into it. Side sills match the bumpers.
Unique interior features available include leather-faced upholstery. Standard is an eight-speaker audio with USB/iPod input and a five-inch integrated colour screen. Just two trim levels are SE and Lux. Prices start from £22,595 for the V40 D2 Cross Country SE, up to £33,875 for the V40 T5 AWD Geartronic Cross Country Lux Nav, which we drove.
It did everything to confirm, in its handling and ride, that modifications to chassis, suspension and the electrically-assisted steering to compensate for the increased ride height have done their job. The Cross Country more than matches the impressive standard V40, built in Belgium with suspension refined on the UK’s pot-holed roads.
Add to that the lively performance of the 2.5-litre, 254 bhp, T5 petrol engine, quickest in the V40 range: 146 mph and 0-60mph in 6.0 seconds, 194g/km CO2 and 34.0 mpg official combined.
These two new boys have a big role. Between them they are expected to account for more than a third of V40 sales in the UK this year, despite price premiums of between £1,000 and £4,000.
Of a targeted 14,000 total, as many as 3,500 or 25 per cent are expected to be R-Design and 1,500 or around 10 per cent Cross Country.
THE VITAL STATISTICS
Volvo V40 R-Design
Sporty lean and low look for the five-door hatchback unveiled last year.
Prices £22,295 to £31,390
Star Car: Diesel D2 R-Design – trustworthy and tax-friendly
Volvo V40 Cross-Country
Rugged make-over and high stance for the safe-image five-seat family steed
Prices £22,595 to £33,875
Star Car: Top 140 mph-plus petrol T5 AWD Geartronic Lux Nav – driving joy
Stick with admired standard V40, from £20,630