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PG

Volvo V40

The XF went in today for a service and its first MOT. So, loan car time again.

Weve used the XFs, so Im afraid youre in one of the Volvos said the apologetic staffer.  I thought this meant the C30 (good) or the V50 (poor) Ive had before. But it was actually a very new V40, so at least a chance to try out something different as Ive not driven one before. The badge on the back says D2 and once near a computer, a look at the Volvo website shows this to be the least powerful 4 pot diesel engine (115PS, 270 torques, 0-60 in 11.2, 88 CO2 and 83.1 combined mpg). It looks like an SE trim (one up from the base ES). This gets you part faux leather upholstery, an OK stereo and a fairly decent interior, let down by a large hole for the sat nav (that is not there) filled in with a small screen and a lot of plastic and also let down by the main instruments (more on that later).  

But the price is a fairly eye watering 22,120 (or 19,304 from the brokers after discount). This is after all the slowest, and nearly cheapest V40 (they start at just over 21k for a D2 ES). 22k is the list price for a Focus 1.6 Tdci 115 Titanium X Navigation so the absolute top of the range in the 1.6 diesel camp. Which the brokers will discount to 16,930. And 20k gets you a discounted SRi Astra 1.6 diesel with more power.  

This probably explains why I dont see a lot of V40s on the road. Youve seriously got to want one to pay what seems to be a significant premium over the other makes. I am sure that Volvo will no doubt tell us that they are competing against A3s, A Klasses and BMW 1ers, which justifies the price.  But I doubt if somebody who will look at those three (or a Golf) would even go to the Volvo dealer. All the people Ive seen in V40s are older people probably downsizing from their V70 theyve run for years. Yes, I know that is an appallingly brand centric view, but Volvo need to win over people who would otherwise buy a Ford, a Peugeot or a Vauxhall, or of course a Golf.  

But before I found all that out, I drove it. After having nearly totalled it within the first 200 yards. Because by heck, you need to rev that engine to get away from a junction at all safely.  In a manual, Im used to our Shogun or horse lorry. Both of which will pull first from standstill with no accelerator at all. Ah, the wonders of modern CO2 tested small turbo-diesels. Because I simply do not see how you could get 83 mpg out of this car, or even the urban, which is stated at 74 mpg. Me? I got 48mpg, in urban work and A roads over 30 miles. I did thrash it, but then you need to.

What are its redeeming features? Once you got it moving and cruising, it felt solid and pretty quiet. The seats were as comfortable as Volvo seats used to be, so full marks for that and the driving position is good.

Balanced against this are some over-designed features. Why do you need a glass top to your gearstick that can be illuminated for 50? What added value is a party-piece instrument binnacle? It has three modes eco, elegance and performance. There is one large central round dial and two vertical dials either side. Eco gives you a big speedo and tacho / economy on the sides. Elegance the same but looks slightly better. Performance apes the look of the Lexus LFA, but is way, way worse than that. Big tacho, with a digital speedo in the middle. Temp and power at the sides. It looks better than eco or elegance, and after a bit of fiddling I left it on performance, which probably tells you how awful the other modes are.  But it feels a total fraud in a car with an 11.2 second 0-60 time. Overall, the resolution on the screen is just not good enough, nor the graphics clever enough. And if you're going to do a high-tech look, make the whole package the same. Why have a cheap looking white on black bar chart as the fuel gauge and why surround your high tech screen in cheap silver plastic? It just looked overall like a wanky Millenium Falcon toy look-a-like. Here's a pic of it from the web.



Can you tell I was rather disappointed? This ought to be a good car. Less overly-designed bits, more power, more standard kit and a lower price and it would be a challenger. How can Volvo take ages designing a car that just does not seem competitive at the price point they choose to pitch it at?
BeN

I was supposed to have the Cross Country variant of this same car this weekend, but it was pushed back as I was tasked to take another (*better*) car.

Looks like I shouldn't be too upbeat about it...
Blarno

270 torques? That has to be NM, there's no way it's doing over twice its power output in Lb/Ft.
Frank Bullitt

Yes, 270 European torques which is about 200 UK torques.  That engine goes up to 220ish in the C4 Picasso.

I like the V40 but the best value is with the mid-spec petrol or 5-pot 2 litre diesels; the D2 is simply a company car option and the list price when compared to the A3 et al helps make it a little cheaper to drive.

The engine is a more modern version of the one in our Picasso (16v with 177lb/ft v 8v with 199lb/ft), also a heavy car and off-boost there is shit-all, you need to rev it properly to pull away on a gradient.
Martin

I assume it's the same engine in the Focus, as that had a borderline dangerous inability to pull away with any pace at all.
simonp

The 1.8 TDCi in the mk1 Foetus was exactly the same. Had a couple as rentals back when they were current and hated them.
Bryan M

I had a white r design d2 as a loaner, agree engine crap and performance was best dash once you had played with colour settings.
Roadsterstu

simonp wrote:
The 1.8 TDCi in the mk1 Foetus was exactly the same. Had a couple as rentals back when they were current and hated them.


Like most modern , small capacity diesels there is shit all off boost and then it's, wallop, boost, wheelspin and torque steer for about 2k rpm until you hit a 4.5k red line. No wonder some people are so slow overtaking or setting off from the lights. The Focus is a fine example of such annoying behaviour.

Shame about the Ovlov but it seems they are trying to be more mainstream and in the process are losing some of that Volvo-ness. The dials are awful. No link at all to previous Volvo cars. And don't get me started on their 4-cylinder only future.
Bob Sacamano

22k seems a lot for a V40. The V50 Drive 1.6D is less than 16k so that's a hell of a jump.
Roadsterstu

And another thing - D5 means something vaguely interesting (in diesel terms, it's all relative!) but alongside that D4, D3 and D2 just seem like "less".
PG

Roadsterstu wrote:
And another thing - D5 means something vaguely interesting (in diesel terms, it's all relative!) but alongside that D4, D3 and D2 just seem like "less".


Quite. Their naming convention may be logical, but D2 and D3 always seemed like stupid names for a 4 cylinder diesel to me. Mind you, based on the ability of the D2 engine, maybe it only has two of the four cylinders connected up to anything?
Martin

To add to the confusion, doesn't a D3 V50 have a 5 pot 2.0 engine and the D4 a 4 pot 2.0?  The you have a D5 with a 2.4 5 pot.....which isn't any quicker than the D4!
PG

Martin wrote:
To add to the confusion, doesn't a D3 V50 have a 5 pot 2.0 engine and the D4 a 4 pot 2.0? The you have a D5 with a 2.4 5 pot.....which isn't any quicker than the D4!


Maybe they head-hunted the guy who named all the current BMW engines. Like an x28i being a 2 litre 4 cylinder.  

Frankly, the world has gone to hell in a hand cart.

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