June 2012

Volvo V40 D2 SE 5dr

Striking looks sets the V40 apart from the competition

June 2012

picture of car from the frontpicture of car from the rearpicture of car interiorpicture of car in detail

Overall rating

4.0 out of 5 stars


  • Sophisticated modern exterior design
  • Elegant and intuitive cabin layout
  • Well-sorted ride and handling package
  • Good choice of engines


  • Multicolour main instruments won't please everyone
  • Thirst of some petrol engines
  • Small rear screen reduces rear visibility
  • Overshadowed by more established alternatives

In a bid to compete on level terms with the likes of Volkswagen, Audi and other makers of high-end compact hatchbacks, Volvo has gone the extra mile with its V40, and produced a car that's big on design yet doesn't skimp on practical attributes.

Arguably the most crucial model for Volvo, the V40 has the potential to be the best seller in the range as it takes on conventional C-segment hatchbacks in both the volume and affordable premium sectors. Keen to add some sparkle to the market, the V40 is a bold-looking machine inside and out.

Crammed full of Scandinavian design cues, the V40 is also a competent car on the road. Engine choice is split between free-revving petrol engines and diesel units with a heavy bias towards economy and low CO2 performance.

A clean-sheet design, the V40 offers buyers an alternative to the predictable tin boxes from the established opposition. And keenly priced, the compact Volvo hopes to deliver a slice of premium motoring at a more affordable level than most badge obsessed buyers are used to.

Although the V40 can't quite match the likes of Ford's Focus or Volkswagen's Golf in outright dynamic terms, the Swedish rival comes closer than any previous example and does successfully deliver a more pleasing cabin ambience.

Our verdict on the Volvo V40 D2 SE 5dr

There's no question that Volvo has exceled itself with the V40. It's visually pleasing and distinctive, boasts a relaxing, practical and intuitive cabin and delivers a more engaging driving experience than similar cars from the past. You need to be careful when choosing the right colour combinations to bring out the best in the V40's looks, but aesthetically there's little to match it in the company car park.


Boasting low CO2 and fuel consumption numbers, diesel power is the way to go if you need to save money. For shorter journeys the regular petrol motors will be a fine alternative, and the V40 is well equipped out of the box - saving you money on picking unnecessary options.

Space and practicality

The V40 boasts a useful hatchback tailgate that allows for easy entry and loading plus the obligatory folding rear seats. The car's cabin is a reasonable size for a compact family hatch, but it could do with a bit more in the way of oddment storage options.

Controls and display

The V40 shares much of its layout with the rest of the Volvo range which is no bad thing. The instruments are attractive and clear, while the floating centre console is clearly marked out and the minimalist design stops the interior feeling cluttered. The switchgear itself is sturdy with strong and well-placed stalks controlling the essential functions.


As always with Volvos the V40's seats are accommodating and supportive, the ride is quiet and exterior noise is kept to a minimum. Drivers can fine-tune their position with a fully adjustable steering column plus height adjustment and lumbar support for the seat.

Car security

Naturally, the V40 comes complete with an alarm, immobiliser and remote central locking. Automatic opening and closing of the windows and sunroof are an additional bonus as is time-delayed lighting to guide you to the front door.

Car safety

Unsurprisingly the V40 is packed with safety kit. A full compliment of airbags, whiplash protection, dynamic stability traction control and electronic brake force distribution are all standard. Features such as BLIS, which uses a rear facing camera and warning light to warn of vehicles in the car's blind-spot is available, as are swivelling headlamps.

Driver appeal

While Volvo rarely promote their wares to appeal to keen drivers, this V40 offers a pleasingly rounded driving experience that should put a smile on your face. Save for the high output petrol flagship, the bias is set towards refinement and economy, making the V40 brisk instead of rapid. Ride control is good however, and easily a match for its more expensive German rivals.

Family car appeal

The family market is one area where the V40 should excel. It's no SUV but if you need a compact car for a small but growing brood the V40 offers a good size cabin and load area. You might want to steer clear of the high-end seat and trim options - they won't play well with sticky fingers or pets.

First car appeal

The V40 would offer a relatively easy introduction to motoring for an inexperienced driver, thanks to its straightforward driving experience and user-friendly cabin. However the restricted rear could prove an obstacle for some.

Quality and image

There has always been a strong air of quality with recent Volvos and the V40 continues that theme with impressive materials and a high level of fit and finish. The brand has also come a long way in terms of image, with thoroughly modern design and more appeal than just safety.


There are no surprises here; with a five-door only configuration, generous apertures and a large tailgate, loading up the V40 with people and luggage is pleasingly hassle-free.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

Volvo has clearly spent a lot of time in this area, as you get a bright and clear screen mounted at the top of the dashboard and simple controls. USB and Bluetooth connectivity are standard while options like DAB increase the choice still further.

Colours and trim

Lighter colours tend to look better than darker hues if you want to better show off the car's various exterior details. The V40 boasts an appealing cabin, and can be enhanced with a range of traditional and contemporary trim materials to help lift the ambience.


The V40 has a relatively shallow rear window, which restricts rear visibility, making rear parking sensors essential for peace of mind. Thankfully the power steering is finger-light at low speeds and the view through the mirrors is good.

Spare wheel

Space saver fitted beneath the boot floor.

Range information

Petrol engine options - 1.6-litre (120bhp, 150bhp, 180bhp); 2.0-litre (245bhp). Diesel engine options - 1.6-litre (115bhp); 2.0-litre (150bhp and 190bhp). Transmission options: Six-speed manual, six-speed automatic or six-speed dual-clutch automatic available. Trim levels: ES, SE, SE Lux, R-Design, R-Design Lux.

Alternative cars

BMW 1 Series Practical and versatile hatchback with added brand value

Audi A3 Stylish, popular and a rounded performer

Volkswagen Golf Mainstream alternative does everything right for sensible money

Ford Focus Benchmark for keen drivers but lacks the Volvo's design flair

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