This month’s road test puts me in the Volvo V40 Cross Country, which has been designed for those who want a sense of every day adventure, expressive and rugged evolution, and the practical versatility of All-Wheel-Drive.
Many of you tell me all the time how your Range Rover or Land Rover is the best thing since sliced bread, and that they are one of the best off road vehicles ever. But what I want to know, is what’s the best all wheel drive family car?
Well you will be pleased to learn that I believe it’s the Volvo V40 Cross Country.
Safety is, and will always be a top priority for Volvo when it comes to car design and features. The V40 Cross Country is fitted as standard with a whole host of equipment to make you safer as you drive. Here is a small selection - Volvo's low-speed collision avoidance system, City Safety, and the world's first pedestrian airbag. These, amongst the many other safety features fitted, ensures Volvo's reputation for safety will continue to be the main reason you would buy a Volvo in the first place. “to be safer”
Also, did you know that these features have helped the V40 receive the highest overall score in Euro NCAP's tests? The fitment of City Safety as standard has also resulted in the car having lower insurance ratings after being tested by Thatcham on behalf of the Association of British Insurers. Not bad eh?
There are a number of design features on the V40 that help give the car a tougher and more rugged look. This form is shown in the front bumper, which has been re-designed to incorporate lower black bumper inserts, which also houses new vertical day-running lights. The front bumper is also fitted with a unique larger honeycomb grille. The rear bumper has a lower black insert, which is fitted with a silver-coloured plastic skid plate with ‘Cross Country' moulded into it. The side sills have also received the Cross Country treatment and are made of the same black moulding as fitted to the front and rear bumpers.
Also, Volvo's classic V-shaped bonnet has bold edging with wide shoulders that stretch from just behind the headlamps. At the end of the rear door it sweeps into an integrated "hook", a design legacy from the P1800 coupé.
The V40 Cross Country also has some nice design touches to finish off the look, such as body coloured washer jet nozzles and it is the first Volvo that uses hemmed wheel flanges, which allows the use of bigger wheel and tyre combinations.
Interior Design and Features
Volvo's "Designed around you" can clearly be seen in the design and functionality of the interior cabin of the V40. Not only is it comfortable and simple in design, but it’s also visually pleasing too. You can feel that it has been designed to be the most intuitive driver interface ever in a Volvo. The premise is to find everything instinctively and ‘be-at-hand' instantly.
There are also a number of unique interior features for V40 Cross Country owners to choose from. Dependent on specification, the V40 Cross Country is available with T-Tec/Textile or leather-faced upholstery. Both types come with coarse visible seams and can be specified in Charcoal or Blonde, or a dual-tone combination of the two colours.
The TFT (thin film transistor) instrument display, offers excellent legibility in all light conditions, it can also prioritise information in emergency situations and also allow the display to be personalised - all part of Volvo's "Designed around you" philosophy.
On the road:
The V40 Cross Country is fitted with the same Dynamic chassis as fitted to the normal V40, but with a number of changes due to the increase in ride height. The ride height has been made possible by the front wheel spindles, made of aluminium, being 20mm longer, and having modified subframe bushings. To increase the ride height for the rear, the link arms and track rods have also been modified.
A huge effort has gone into making the Volvo V40 Cross Country as good to drive as the V40, creating a balance of ride, handling, steering and braking, as well as the driver assistance functions. This ensures the car drives as well as the V40. To be honest, this is a beefed up version of the V40, but if feels just as good as a V40 without all the rugged attire. Plus it drives exceptional.
Another first for Volvo is the fantastic new Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC) system on the V40 Cross Country which includes several sophisticated features that offer a unique blend of driving pleasure and safety. The Advanced Stability Control that is part of it is a system that uses a roll angle sensor that makes it possible to identify any skidding tendency at an early stage. This means that the stability control system can step in earlier and with greater precision.
The V40 Cross Country is available with the same engine choice as the V40, except the T3, and all are fitted with start/stop technology, no matter which gearbox is specified. It has a wide range of turbocharged diesel or petrol engines, both available in four- and five-cylinder forms. In the UK, diesel is likely to account for over 80 per cent of sales.
All V40 engines meet the latest Euro V exhaust emissions standards. They are all fitted transversely, to improve packaging - so more space is devoted to passengers - and also to improve safety: a transverse engine is less likely to intrude into the passenger cell than a longitudinally mounted engine in a severe front impact.
New for the V40 Cross Country, but also available in the V40 and V40 R-Design, is the high-performance T5 engine. This five-cylinder 2.5-litre 254hp unit uses an aluminium block and head and is the sportiest choice in the V40 range. It comes with All-Wheel-Drive (Haldex Generation 5) and an automatic Geartronic transmission only.
0-60mph acceleration takes just 6.0 seconds, while top speed is 146mph. Despite the high performance, the engine emits 194g/km of CO2 and achieves 34.0mpg on the combined cycle.
The four-cylinder T4 engine is amongst the world's most advanced four-cylinder petrol engines, being exceptionally light and efficient.
It is compact and made from die-cast aluminium, which reduces weight and improves heat dissipation. The plastic inlet manifold also cuts weight. The engine uses direct injection to give far more precise combustion with improved performance and emissions.
The variable valve timing and quick-acting turbocharger helps give this petrol engine almost diesel-like lugging power. Maximum torque for the T4 is over a wide rev band: from 1600 to 5000rpm. Maximum torque for the T4 is 240 Nm and produces 180hp.
The T4 is available with six-speed manual transmissions and can be optionally specified with an automatic Powershift gearbox. The manual version of the T4 has a 0-60mph acceleration of 7.7 seconds.
The highly efficient engine gives excellent economy and low emissions of 129 g/km of CO2. It qualifies for free first year vehicle tax and is classified in vehicle tax band D.
The biggest seller in 2014 is expected to be the 1.6-litre four-cylinder diesel D2, accounting for just over 60 per cent. The highly-efficient engine delivers an amazing 99g/km CO2, equating to 74.3mpg on the combined cycle.
With such low figures, it makes the Benefit in Kind company car tax very low. There are also major benefits in other taxation. For example, the sub-100g figure means there is no vehicle tax either in the first year or in subsequent years. It is also currently exempt from the London Congestion Charge.
The D2 is an eight-valve engine using the latest common rail direct injection. Piezo-electric injectors ensure particularly precise distribution of the atomized fuel, resulting in efficient combustion and low emissions. The cylinder block and head are both made from aluminium, ensuring low weight.
Maximum power is 115hp while maximum torque is a healthy 270 Nm, available from 1750-2500rpm. Even at 4000rpm, the engine is still producing almost 200 Nm of torque. The D2 is only available with a six-speed manual transmission. Top speed is 115mph and 0-60 mph acceleration takes 11.2 seconds.
So, Would I buy one?
The Volvo V40 Cross Country is a fabulous all-rounder. It's great to drive, as safe as an armour-plated tank, and delivers brilliant fuel economy.
This alone is a good enough reason to give the V40 a place in your heart. By Anthony Yates