Volvo V40 D4 first drive

Volvo V40 D4Volvo has just raised its game in the all important C-sector with the introduction of its newest Drive-E D4 diesel and T5 petrol engines

to the 2015 model year V40 range of C-segment five door hatchbacks and 2WD/AWD Cross Country models.

 The Euro 6, 2.0-litre engines produce more power and lower emissions than the units they replace but more significantly Volvo says they beat rival power units from BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz.

 First seen in larger Volvo 60, 70 and 80 series cars from late 2013, the new Drive-E engines will continue to be gradually introduced throughout the Swedish manufacturer’s range over the next three years. These new generation modular engines will be of varying capacities and power outputs with diesels from 120 to 230hp and petrol units from 140 to 300+hp. All are now designed and manufactured in-house. This allows the revitalised and refinanced company to break away from using engines sourced through Ford from the time when the US giant owned the brand between 1999 and 2010.

 Drive-E technologies for petrol and diesel versions consist of high pressure direct injection, multi phase injection timing (up to 9 injections per cylinder stroke cycle), turbocharging and lightweight low friction components. These functions provide a higher performance, improved fuel economy, considerably lower emissions and a powerful sound character.

 Volvo says their latest 4-cylinder engines offer higher performance than today’s 6-cylinder units and lower fuel consumption than the current 4-cylinder generation. There’s a noticeable weight and size reduction with Drive-E units so fuel economy savings are anything from 10 to 30 per cent, depending on which engines are compared.

 Volvo PR manager Nikki Rooke said the company have been working on the new 2.0 D4/T5 four-cylinder engines with multi-phase fuel injection since 2007 and started testing them two years later before full production began in 2013 and they went into the larger cars in its range early in 2014.

 Volvo V40 D4Volvo V40 D4She added, “Our new D4 2.0-litre diesel and T5 petrol engines produce more power with lower emissions than our rivals of the same size and that means they attract lower BIK tax for company users as a result. We have the new D4 2.0-litre diesel producing 190hp but which produces sub 100g/km of CO2 emissions. There is nothing on sale from other manufacturers which beats that figures which are vitally important to retail customers with low VED road tax charges but in particular to company car users because of the lower Benefit-in-Kind tax charges.”

 Now in the hands of the Chinese automotive group – Geely, Volvo is enjoying steadily rising sales in the UK which are 20% up even though the overall market is up 10%. So far their UK sales this year are 23,554 units but they expect to reach over 40,000 registrations this year for the first time in 10 years. The V40 series is Volvo’s best seller and accounts for 44% of its UK sales with 73% going to fleet and business customers and nearly all are diesels. The UK is largest global market for the V40 range.

 In addition to the introduction of the new D4 190hp diesel and T5 245hp petrol units the complex and relatively vast V40 range still consists of 1.6 petrol and diesel engines offering a wide range of power outputs as well as a 2.0-litre 150hp D3 diesel unit. But the old T5 five-cylinder petrol unit is now replaced by the four cylinder T5 turbocharged petrol engine which has Volvo’s new 8-speed Geartronic automatic transmission as standard. The new auto gearbox is an option on other models.

 Spec levels, depending on the model and engine chosen, are ES, SE, R-Design and R-Design Nav and Nav Lux. Prices for the 2015 model year V40 start at £18,995 and range up to £31,900. The V40 Cross Country models now start at £23,320 and rise to £34,140 for the T5 AWD Geartronic version.

Iain Howat, Volvo’s UK head of product and planning said that over 90% of V40 models sold in the UK are diesel powered because 73% are fleet/business sales. The sportier R Design models account for 45% of sales and the Cross Country 2WD/AWD models appeal to 20% of customers. The new D4 190hp turbodiesel engine with CO2 emissions of just 99g/km will account for 25% of V40 sales. But he added, “The new D4 diesel could see a further lift when the 3% additional Benefit-in-Kind levy over petrol engines is lifted in 2017 unless a new British Government imposes a new tax charge to cover the NOx emissions, which are increasingly becoming seen as dirtier and more harmful than CO2 emissions.”

Volvo V40 D4Volvo V40 D4In case the Volvo V40 range has slipped off a customer’s radar it is a five door, five seater, coupe styled C-segment hatchback with the Cross Country versions having a higher ride height which hints to off-road driving capabilities. At the rear there is the hallmark hexagonal shaped tailgate pioneered on the famous P180 ES followed by the popular C30 and now included on the V60 and V40 models. The V40 is targeted at discerning customers who want a distinctive alternative to the more common-place BMW 1 Series, the Audi A3, Mercedes-Benz A-Class and the VW Golf.

 The latest 2015 model year V40 range has minor styling and spec changes but the addition of new Drive-E engines is the main focus of attention. Needless to say the vehicles are loaded with safety features, pedestrian recognition, copious amounts of airbags and these now include an under-bonnet airbag which in the event of a front end impact raises the rear end of the bonnet to cover most of the windscreen so cushioning the impact to a pedestrian or protecting the front seat passengers. Inside there are hints of classy and high-tech, high quality Scandinavian design and of course there is the obligatory array of extra cost options.

These include the added safety orientated Driver Support Pack costing £1,900 or the Winter Illumination Pack which will add another £1,200 to the price.

 At the UK press launch for the updated 2015 model year V40 range both the new D4 diesel and T5 petrol models were sampled.

Going the minority selling route first we tried the T5 R-Design Lux Nav with the new 2.0-litre, four-cylinder 245hp turbocharged petrol engine and the standard fit new eight-speed transmission priced at £31,900.

 Turbocharged petrol 2.0-litre engines and above are a no-go for company car drivers unless they own the company so higher mileage fleet users and operators end up with diesels in this sector.

 With ample torque of 350Nm (258lb ft) from 1,800rpm the T5 unit is exceptionally responsive for a petrol engine. Officially this model will return 47.9mpg – our test drive returned 38.2mpg which mainly consisted of 70mph motorway cruising. The CO2 emissions are a low 137g/km for a petrol unit so VED road tax is £130 and company car tax is 20%. The T5 V40 handles well enough but the ride for a top spec model is not that refined and patters along on most road surfaces, plus the price is on the steep side.

 More applicable for the 2015 model year’s sales potential for the V40 is the Drive-E technology D4 2.0-litre, four cylinder 190hp diesel engine with its six-speed manual gearbox. With impressive torque output of 400Nm (295lb ft) from 1,750rpm this gives really good pick up from low and mid-range speeds making it very responsive to drive. This engine is no ponderous, clattery sounding diesel slugger. Its top speed is claimed to be 143mph which I cannot confirm, but yes it does accelerate from zero to 62mph in a swift 7.4 seconds.

 Officially the Combined Cycle fuel consumption is 74.3mpg and our test drive, mainly on a motorway and A roads, it returned 50.2mpg. What is even better are the low 99g/km of CO2 emissions which means that VED road tax is £0. The main users, company car drivers will pay just 15% in Benefit-in-Kind tax which is very competitive in this sector for a car of this quality.

 This version of Volvo’s new engines really does lead the way in terms of the leading power output, better fuel economy and the lowest CO2 emissions and it should put the Volvo V40 on the map both with fleets and running costs conscious retail customers.

 MILESTONES: Volvo V40 D4 R-Design Nav 5-door. Price: £26,545 (other D4 models start from £24,570). Engine/transmission: Drive-E technology, D4 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder, high pressure direct injection turbodiesel, 190hp, 400Nm of torque from 1,750rpm, 6-speed manual. Performance: 143mph, 0-62mph 7.4 seconds, 74.3mpg (50.2mpg on test), CO2 99g/km, VED road take £0, BIK company car tax 15%. Insurance Group: 25. Warranty: 24 months/unlimited mileage. Dimensions/capacities: L 4,369mm, W 1,857mm, H 1,439mm, boot/load space 335 to 1,444-litres, braked towing weight 1,300kg. For: Class leading engine technology which is cleaner with more power and less thirsty for fuel, has low tax costs, a classy well equipped car filled with safety features, it should improve the previous conservative image of the staid V40. Against: Firm ride, complicated and confusing titles for different models and engines, some versions look expensive.  Miles Better News agency 

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