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Volvo V40: Compact car, big heart

Spoilt for choice? There are 56 variants to choose from – and you can customise the spec, reports Roger St. Pierre

In marketing speak they are calling the 2013 model year Volvo V40 an estate, but think five-door hatchback and you’ll be closer to the initial showroom impression.

That said, whilst luggage room is not over-generous, an air of spaciousness catches the eye once you climb aboard, though the low roofline demands that taller occupants contort themselves somewhat as they take their seats.

The Swedes have taken a driver-centric approach for the V40, with a new, fully graphic instrument cluster that allows the driver to personalise instrument layout and the information provided. The clarity is superb.

The V40’s designers claim to provide class-leading driving dynamics thanks to focused attention to a number of vital areas. It’s a luxury compact with large car characteristics.

Adding several new high-tech features to a full deck of safety and support systems from larger models makes the V40, in their jargon-laden contention, the most IntelliSafe car in the segment.

There’s a more sporty look to Volvos these days – though the V40 still has appeal mostly to more mature drivers – and performance doesn’t disappoint, even for the more red-blooded among us.

This thoroughly likeable Swede offers a range of willing 1.6 and 2.0--litre diesel and petrol five-cylinder engines, with a choice of six-speed manual or six-speed auto gearbox.

The five-cylinder 2.5-litre turbocharged T5 option has a power output of 254 hp and 400 Nm of torque, including 40 Nm over-boost delivered during acceleration. The T5 is also available in a 2.0-litre version with 213 hp and 300 Nm of torque. The mid-range offer includes two versions of a 1.6-litre GTDi engine: T4 with 180 horsepower and T3 with 150 horsepower. The 180 hp engine offers maximum torque of 270 Nm, including 30 Nm over-boost.

The 150 horsepower T3 engine provides 270 Nm of torque, including 30 Nm over-boost. Volvo's engine experts have managed to bring fuel consumption on the T3 down to 5.4l/100 km in the V40. This corresponds to COemissions of 125 g/km.

The five-cylinder 2.0-litre D4 turbodiesel has been optimised for fuel-efficient driving pleasure. This engine delivers 177 hp and has torque of 400 Nm across a wide rpm range. Acceleration from 0-100 km/h takes 8.3 seconds with the automatic gearbox (8.6 sec with manual). Fuel consumption and COemissions are 4.3 l/100 km (114 g/km) with a manual gearbox and 5.2 l/100 km (136 g/km) with the automatic (EU Combined).

In addition there is the 2.0-litre D3, producing 150 hp and 350 Nm of torque.

Both turbodiesels are available with a six-speed automatic transmission or six-speed manual gearbox.

As you’d expect from Volvo, equipment levels are commendably high across the range. Such goodies as park assist, lane wander warning, blind spot warning, the world’s first pedestrian airbag, automatic headlight dipping and keyless entry figure on the extensive tick list.

V40 prices range from £20,345 to £26,615. Beside the standard 26-model range there are 30 Cross Country and enhanced R Design variants available.

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