Open gallery Close by John Howell 28 December 2014 Follow @autobabbler Share
How we test cars
In essence this is the same Volvo V40 as before with off-road styling tweaks, to give it a more rugged appeal similar to the way the XC70 was the go-anywhere version of the V70.
As for the engine range there are three petrol options, a 1.5-litre T3, which is only available with an auto ‘box, and two variants of the 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit to choose from, while there is also three variants of Volvo’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine too. Most are channelled via an eight-speed automatic gearbox, while the T3 and the diesel engines can be had with Volvo’s slick six-speed manual.
On paper the 0-62mph figure of 7.3sec looks fast, but the reality is it feels stately and adequate rather than outright quickJohn HowellSenior reviewer
Good news for company car drivers, then? Well potentially, because at £23,750 placing itself among the mid-range Audi A3 Sportback and the higher echelons of the Volkswagen Golf range, while our options-heavy test car was a whopping £37,295. That means despite an 18 per cent tax banding, a higher rate company user would pay £2685 a year.
In 2016, the Volvo V40 was given a minor facelift, most noticeable is the ‘Thor-shaped’ LED day running lights that premiered on the Volvo XC90 along with the introduction of a few more fuel-efficient engines.
Back in 1997, Volvo was the creator of the off-road estate car genre with its XC70. The idea was to take a standard road car and beef it up with a sprinkling of mud-plugging ability.
However, with the V40 Cross Country there’s not much genuine green-lane talent. It’s front-wheel drive (four-wheel drive only being available on the T5 petrol version), and apart from a ride height that’s been raised by 40mm, basically all that’s changed from the standard hatchback is the addition of some shiny roof rails and a dash of black plastic on the lower bumpers and sills. From a distance it requires a knowing eye to tell them apart.
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The infotainment system comes with a 5.0in display, DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity, while upgrading to Cross Country Pro trim will get you Volvo’s Sensus system with sat nav and an uprated sound system. As for the rest of the standard equipment, the Cross Country models get scuff plates, a skid plate, 16in alloys, numerous Volvo safety systems, climate control and electric windows, while upgrading to the Cross Country Pro models add a leather upholstery, cruise control, and auto wipers and lights.
Like the outside, the inside isn’t much different to that of a conventional V40, and sitting in the front that’s no bad thing. The seats are comfortable and it’s easy to get a decent driving position in what is essentially a premium-feeling cabin, helped by little touches such as the textured soft-touch dash and, at least in the car we drove, a copper-finish veneer on the centre console.
The infotainment system isn’t the most intuitive, and the problem is exacerbated by the numerous and rather random scattering of buttons, although with practice you do get used to it.
Whether you would get used to the claustrophobic rear seats is debatable, especially if you’re above average height. The legroom isn’t great but it’s the angled rear windows – which also limit the driver’s rear vision – and particularly the poor headroom that create a feeling akin to incarceration.
Things don’t get better when you open the boot. Our test car came with a space-saver spare wheel, which makes the boot floor so high it comes as a real surprise to find there’s no additional storage beneath. In objective terms the boot is 324 litres, which is 56 litres less than an A3 Sportback and a colossal 106 litres behind the equally jacked up, but more expensive, Infiniti QX30.
The new engine pulls well once you get the turbo spinning at around 1500rpm. On paper the 0-62mph figure of 7.3sec looks fast, but the reality is it feels stately and adequate rather than outright quick. This could be down to the slightly laboured nature of the eight-speed gearbox, although looking at the stats, it should be quicker than the manual.
The auto does change smoothly through the gears, but if you’re erratic with the throttle it’ll let you know with an occasional thud through the car. It’s also worth mentioning that the gear selector has a needlessly stiff action.