The Indian Luxury Hatch segment is dominated by the Germans with the BMW X1 & the Mercedes-Benz A-Class being the automatic contenders, while the (BMW Owned) MINI Cooper 5-Door mixes things up a little. So, if you’re looking for something of a whiplash effect that stops traffic in its tracks, then you’ve got to make a beeline for the nearest Volvo car dealer and get yourself a Volvo V40!
Volvo V40 Design
Just ‘cos we knew you’d balk a little at the thought, we went ahead and got us this gorgeous V40 R-Design in Rebel Blue – to show you how its done. The result – traffic (human as well as motorized) came to a standstill as she glided into the parking lot. This curvy beauty has got some hot lines and the right details to teach a thing or two to people whose world of exotics ends with all things Italian. One glance and you’ll be sold – the V40 really is that heart-achingly pretty. So besotted we were with her sexy curves that we hardly got any sleep that night, having spent it dreaming about those looks. We were up with the first rays of the sun and boy, did she take our breath away. It was going to be a Happy Friday indeed!
Long, wide and low; the V40 seems to hug the road as she goes. Our car had the R-Design package, which included the 17inch Ixion’s in Matte Tech Black. Volvo’s designers have not missed a single step in penning these beautiful lines and as a result, there’s no way you can spot a bad angle when gazing in her direction – flawless beauty, that’s the V40. The car is an ideal blend of both beauty and subtle aggression that we found ourselves staring at her for hours.
The tear-drop shaped headlights are the first thing you notice when approaching the V40 from the front. The eyes then follow in multiple directions at the same time. You notice the way the bonnet bulge flows into the wheel-arch at the front, the eyes following the belt-line down the flanks and into those mesmerizing boomerang shaped tail-lamp units out back. There’s an almost coupe-like feel to the V40, thanks to the swooping roof line.
There’s the R-Design specific grille with subtle-chrome, the specially designed bumper and those uniquely shaped DRL’s. A slimmer number plate would have worked wonders rather than the current one that gives you an eye-sore, but then you can’t quite argue with statutory regulations. All-in-all, the V40, particularly in this R-Design package feels like she’s going at warp-speed, even as you’re still sitting there at the signal or in the parking lot. The designers have done exceedingly well in injecting just the right amount of aggression into the V40’s visual cues to give the impression of a powerful, yet breath achingly sophisticated animal ready to pounce at any moment. Move over A-Class, you’ve got some serious Scandinavian competition.
Volvo V40 Interior
No one does safety like Volvo and the V40 follows in the glorious tradition of all the cars that have proudly worn the badge since day one. From the low bonnet & grille with the pedestrian air-bag nestled behind it to the auto-braking system that deploys automatically upon sensing a crash into the vehicle ahead. Plus, the passengers also get a full complement of airbags and other safety kit. So there’s zero compromise on this front.
Step inside, shut the door and you’re in for your first hiccup. Her interiors aren’t as much of a let-down, but she feels a tad less opulent and sophisticated; and this is heightened after having raised your expectations thanks to the excellent exterior package. The trademark waterfall console takes its place at the centre as well as the ‘Volvo Man’ air-con controls. The console fascia is a part chrome with blue accents, part dash-weave that once again lets us in on the attention to detail from the designers. The rotary controls for the audio system, telephone connectivity as well as the auto air-con have a nice tactile feel to them. Normally, physical buttons tend to delight us, but on the V40, there has been something of an overkill. The entire dial-pad is superfluous and drags down the visual appeal of the console.
Moving up, the AC vents are brilliant, but then, the entertainment screen is a huge disappointment. Volvo seem to be in bit of a time-warp here with a tiny screen that is most severely restricted in terms of size as well as function. On the other hand, there’s nothing to fault in terms of build quality or the materials used. The seats too, walk the thin line of being comfortable while offering enough support, even as they look good doing it all.
The meter console is all-digital but feels a tad-old when compared to the competition. The reverse camera is a paid extra but you do get a parallel park feature, where the car does all the scanning and steering for you, as you work the brakes. Cabin space at the back is tight, thanks to the sloping roof-line. Headroom for rear passengers is quite restricted and knee-room too can be a bit of a bother. So make sure that you only take along shorter passengers at the back on those long drives. Also, with the centre tunnel being raised, a fifth member would only be welcome if you are ready for daggers to be drawn out back.
The steering wheel is nice and meaty to hold, with all the right contours, though it is a bit lifeless, having this disconnected feel to it that’s most disconcerting on corners. Which is a shame really, for the V40 has enough under the hood to leave the pack behind.
Volvo V40 Engine
The 2.0-litre five cylinder motor may have been replaced by a newer one globally, but its 150 horses and 350Nm torque still have enough poke to keep you smiling all the way. The gearbox struggles a bit and takes a little time in transferring that nice surge of power down to the wheels, but it is a matter of getting used to its delivery characteristics. Stick her into sport mode and watch that grin go wide on the face. Unlike in the regular mode where she shifts early, thereby making the response a bit hesitant, the sport mode quickens things up and she holds onto the revs all the way to the redline. In-fact, the sport mode is so good, that you’ll find yourself reaching out for those non-existent paddle shifters every time you reach out to nudge the gear lever up or down.
Volvo V40 Mileage
The V40 is a proper sub-10 second car and what’s admirable is that she’ll happily return about 13/14 kilometres to the litre under regular conditions. Heavy throttle sessions see this figure drop down to about 11 kilometres, which is still respectable, give the performance and driving involvement on offer.
Volvo V40 Handling
The V40 is a delight to drive on the streets thanks to her agile underpinnings. Chassis balance is sublime and the ride is firm, without really being back-breaking. You do however, have to crab over cautiously on our nasty speed breakers and watch out for potholes – for the low ground clearance (133mm) will hurt your heart & bank balance if you get complacent.
Volvo V40 Price
When the time came to say our goodbyes, we were still smitten by that Rebel Blue and her gorgeous lines. A few among us were willing to sign off the INR 32 Lakhs (on-road) in future earnings that this V40 with her R-Design package would cost – just to see her parked in their spot. And all you naysayers with needless warnings of the still fledgling dealer and service support may go take a hike. Volvo offers a comprehensive care and maintenance package, which includes prompt on-road assistance should you need it.
A luxury hatch is a purchase that’s made more with the heart than at the encouragement from the bean-counters. They’re highly personal by nature and say more about the owner than most other purchases. So go on, give the Volvo V40 R-Design a try, for you didn’t get to where you are today without taking a few calculated chances. You’ll also be making a statement with the V40, an elegantly sophisticated one at that; declaring to the world that you’ve arrived in way that most can only crave and desire.