Joining the C-segment V40 five-door hatchbacks launched last year are the R-Design and Cross Country versions, which are available with front wheel drive or all-wheel-drive.
The new-comers join a V40 range which has added 6,000 sales last year to the brand in Britain and which are expected to push the total for the series to over 14,000 this year.
The new R-Design is expected to take 40% of these total sales with the flagship Cross Country version adding 10% and the remainder the existing front wheel drive hatchbacks.
The 4WD V40 Cross Country automatic with its five-cylinder 2.5-litre, 254hp engine is expected to appeal to only a few owners who demand its all-weather capability.
The powertrain availability for the new models is taken straight from the existing V40 hatchback with the addition of the 4WD Cross Country. So you have 150 or 180hp 1.6 petrol engines and three diesels producing 115hp in the 1.6 or 150 and 177hp in the 2.0 versions. Manual or automatic six-speed transmission is available.
The V40 R-Design is available in two specification 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.
V40 D2 R-Design, as well V40 D2, are within the lowest BIK company car band for a conventional engine vehicle, one band lower than its premium competitors. Benefit-in-Kind figures for the V40 D2 R-Design start from £47.11 for a 20% taxpayer and from £94.22 for a 40% taxpayer.
Also, with low CO2 emissions across the range, Benefit-in-Kind figures for the V40 D2 Cross Country start from £52.10 for a 20% taxpayer and from £104.20 for a 40% taxpayer for the current financial year.
The V40 Cross Country is available in two specifications, Cross Country SE and Cross Country Lux. Prices are from £22,595 on the road for the V40 D2 Cross Country SE, up to £33,875 for the V40 T5 AWD Geartronic Cross Country Lux Nav.
V40 R-Design has a lowered sporting suspension with unique front and rear bumpers to set it apart from the familiar hatchback, special rear spoiler and running lights and silk-metal detailing over the bodywork. Special alloys and a unique Regal Blue colour are available. Inside there are different leather seat covers and instrumentation.
By contrast, the V40 Cross Country sits on raised suspension of up to 4cms depending on wheel and tyre choices and building on its improved visibility there is standard low speed collision avoidance City Safety fitted, which helps lower insurance premiums when taken out with Volvo.
It also has special interior detailing finishes and externally there are roof rails, new bumpers and protective side and rear sills and unique wheels.
Volvo UK head of public affairs, Nikki Rooke, said 2013 would be a very busy year for the company as it rolls out new models led by the V40 R-Design and Cross Country versions.
“Despite launching part of the way through 2012, the V40 has been very important for us,” she said. With the R-Design and Cross Country we will be building on this momentum, particularly appealing to buyers who may have previously considered a BMW 1 Series, Audi A3 or Mercedes-Benz A Class in the sector which accounts for 20% of UK registrations.”
She added that the low emission engines would be particularly appealing to business and fleet drivers who want to minimise tax bills and who are expected to account for over half the sales of the two newcomers.
“This is a very competitive sector and we can not only match our rivals very closely on price but we offer something different in terms of styling and equipment, and there will be special finance packages and insurance available as well.”
There is a pleasantly taught feel to both the R-Design and Cross Country V40s.
The emphasis on a more sporting character and appeal of the R-Design is immediately evident even in the 115hp D2 tested and predicted to be the best seller in the new range. With a few options, our test model was £27,820.
It has a good exhaust note, firm steering and direct gearchange with nicely weighted clutch and brakes. You are aware of the slightly firm springing, not so much from a harder ride but the noise generated from the wide wheels and tyres. It actually coped very well with some winter pot-holed roads and B-class back-roads on the test route.
It pulled well once revved and overall we achieved 55.2mpg despite some spirited driving, so it’s a good blend of enthusiasm and economy.
The additional urge underfoot in the Cross Country 177hp 2.0 D4 derivative gave sharper responses when needed to overtake, and it was particularly strong mid-range. It also permitted quieter and more composed cruising on the motorway. Our test drive fuel consumption was 43.2mpg.
I thought it had stronger brakes than the D2 and despite its higher ride height it handled well on twisting turns through rolling countryside. The test car cost £33,295 with accessories, including the very desirable and safety orientated driver support pack at £1,850.
MILESTONES. Volvo V40 D2 R-Design Lux Nav. Price: £24,245 (£27,820 as tested).
Mechanical: 4cyl. 115hp, 1,560cc turbodiesel, 6 speed, front wheel drive, 270Nm 1,750-2,500rpm. Performance: Max 118mph, 0-60mph 11.2sec, fuel consumption: 55.2mpg, CO2 99g/km, VED Band A. Warranty: 3-years/60k. Insurance group: 17. For: Good handling, compliant ride, reasonable equipment, useful performance and economy, sporty good looks. Against: Restricted rear visibility, not outstandingly quick, constant road noise intrusion, some pricey features. Robin Roberts Miles Better News Agency