The growth in sales of crossovers suggests that everyone wants a car that looks more adventurous than a family hatchback, even though no off-roading is likely to be involved; so here’s Sweden’s answer, the Volvo V40 Cross Country.
Everyone wants crossovers as they’re more interesting than a family hatchback, but most people won’t use crossovers for off-roading, so Volvo thinks it has the answer in the form of a regular V40 that has been designed to look ‘more rugged’, without any additional off-road capability apart from a slightly increased ride height. Is it worth buying this car over the regular V40?
The V40 Cross Country is a five-seat, five-door hatchback with, in this case, a 2-litre turbodiesel D4 engine with 190hp and 400Nm torque, so it results in respectable performance. In our test car this powertrain is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission.
Despite any impression given by the crossover-style looks, the car is essentially just a regular V40 apart from the increased ride height (now 144-153mm), and this is just a front-wheel drive car. So the unique selling point is one of visual aesthetics rather than added capability.
Driving the V40 is like having a Swedish massage; it’s just a relaxing vehicle to pilot. The entire car feels extremely refined and well-insulated, including the engine, transmission, steering and suspension. The whole powertrain feels smooth – no drivetrain clunks here as was the case in some Volvos of old – and there’s lots of low down torque. All this helps to give the feel of a premium-brand car.
The V40 handles well, despite the increased ride height, and it generally has a comfortable ride. The steering is responsive and well-weighted; it’s not super-sharp, but it’s appropriate for the car, and it prevents imperfections in the road being transmitted to the driver (ie. the opposite of an Alfa 4C). However due to the substantial amount of torque going through the front wheels, the V40 does have a tendency for torque steer – and ultimately understeer. Overall the V40 feels tuned for comfort rather than trying to be a sporty driver’s car.
Although the interior feels like a pleasant environment, there are lots of small and seemingly somewhat random buttons down towards the bottom of the centre console, and the worst culprit is the infotainment system. Rather than having one central iDrive-like controller, there are four similar-looking rotary dials spread around the dash which incorporate the infotainment system controls.
As an example that the arrangement of the controls on the dashboard doesn’t work that well, the heated seats, operated by a switch located in the middle of various other buttons including stereo volume/tuning/fan etc, ended up being switched on inadvertently, despite the car being tested in mid-summer.
Here we go again. The official economy figure for the Volvo V40 Cross Country D4 is 70.6mpg. The car did in fact prove to be economical in real-life, but we averaged what turned out to be a very consistent 51.5mpg. Most people wouldn’t be disappointed with an average of more 50mpg in mixed real-life driving, but it’s quite a way off the 70.6mpg figure. However, the car had only covered 150 miles from new when it arrived with us, so it’s likely that this figure would improve as the car was more run-in.
The V40 Cross Country range is available from £23,820 (for the D2 SE). The car as tested, the V40 Cross Country D4 Lux Nav, is available from £28,870. Our test car had good levels of equipment, as well as options of Xenium Pack (£2,000); Driver Support Pack (£1,900); Lux Winter Pack (£375); Metallic Paint (£550); Active TFT Crystal Driver’s Information Display (£300); Tempa Spare Wheel and Jack (£150); Flexible Load Floor with Grocery Bag Holder (£100); taking the price of our test car to £34,245. This is quite a substantial amount for a family hatchback, even one that feels as refined as the V40.
Volvo has managed to encapsulate a relaxing Swedish massage in a car – in the form of the V40 Cross Country. It’s a car that you want to like, because it’s just so refined and relaxing to drive – even with manual transmission.
The D4 engine delivers smooth, torquey performance and promises impressive fuel economy, and we believe that 60mpg-plus would be achievable on long runs when the engine is run in.
So what about the ‘Cross Country’ treatment? If you find the regular V40 a bit bland in the face of Qashqais and other crossovers, then this V40 certainly looks a bit more interesting. But the price of our test car is expensive for a family hatchback.
From a day-to-day perspective, the main issue with the V40 is the ‘bitty’ collection of buttons that sit down at the bottom of the centre console. A BMW iDrive controller still remains the benchmark for other manufacturers to beat.
The V40 Cross Country gains a Green Car Guide rating of 8 out of 10.