Let down by vague steering and noisy engines
Comfortable seating but infotainment controls can be confusing
Even pedestrians get an airbag - that's impressive
High quality cabin and mechanicals shouldn't let you down
Space is decidedly tight, especially in the back
Go with SE trim, and you won't go far wrong
There's a wide range of engines to choose from, but two stand out above the rest. Our favourite is the D2 diesel; it's smooth, economical and swift enough for everyday driving, although you'll need to change down a gear or two on the motorway to overtake. The best petrol is the lively yet refined T3.
The V40's light steering is great for town driving and parking, but it feels disconcertingly vague when you're going faster. Versions with bigger engines also suffer from a poor turning circle. The V40 stays nicely upright on bends but it feels a bit jittery even with the standard suspension; Cross Country models are a little more supple, however. The biggest issue is with refinement - there's lots of road noise on coarse surfaces and wind noise at motorway speeds.
The interior is stylish, contemporary and built from classy materials. On the whole, it's also pretty easy to use, although the small buttons and the infotainment system's onscreen menus can be distracting.
The seats are extremely supportive, with a huge range of adjustment. Rear space isn't any better than in a BMW 1 Series, though, which means it feels pretty tight, and the boot is on the narrow side. The optional folding boot floor makes a useful level load space when you drop the rear seats, though.
Entry-level ES cars include Bluetooth, front and rear electric windows, alloy wheels and climate control; however, we'd recommend SE, which adds cruise control, wheel-mounted audio controls, keyless start and plusher interior trim. R-Design cars add sporty features including bigger alloys; SE Lux has leather and LED lights. Cross-country models get little more than a raised ride height and chunkier bumpers.
The V40 is too new to have featured in the latest JD Power customer satisfaction survey, but reports by S40 and C30 owners indicate that mechanical reliability is generally very good. However, servicing and repairs can be expensive.
Generous safety features include Volvo's City Safety system, which automatically applies the brakes if you get too close to a car in front (at speeds up to 31mph), while pedestrians are now protected by a giant airbag that pops up from under the bonnet just before an impact. This helped the car achieve the maximum five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests, including an outstanding 88% score for pedestrian safety. Adult protection was awarded the highest mark in the class, at 98%, but child protection lagged slightly at 75%.
The V40's cabin is very smart and offers Volvo's famously comfortable seats, plus good standard equipment. The V40 also has some very good Euro NCAP crash test results - though less so for child protection. Overall, however, it's below par in too many other areas compared to rivals. The VW Golf, which is a much better all-rounder, also costs less to buy. Residual values aren't bad, either, and the D2 diesel is particularly economical, with 78.5mpg and 94g/km of CO2. Cross Country models take a small hit on efficiency - apart from the four-wheel-drive models which use considerably more fuel.