Volvo V40 T5 Cross Country Inscription AWD
The Volvo V40 remains one of the most underrated and often overlooked premium hatchbacks in the market, yet it’s lifestyle appeal, endearingly classy good looks, reputation for safety, and decent road manners make for an urban runabout that rivals the best in its class.
The Swedes just get styling. Beyond the WesBank South African Car of the Year winning XC90, and the suitably sophisticated S90 saloon, Volvo’s alternative offerings are still as stylish. And the V40 Cross Country – with its raised ride height, added aluminium-look rear skid plate and side scuff plates, and the addition of the striking “Thor’s Hammer” LED daytime running lights – truly is a looker.
UNDER THE SKIN
The same 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine that is offered on the XC90, and now the S90 too, powers the V40 Cross T5 Inscription that we drove up the West Coast last December. It delivers 180 kW and 350 Nm of torque via all four wheels thanks to a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission that lays its power down with purpose, and without drama.
Although a detailed description of a vehicle’s performance characteristics wouldn’t generally form part of a leisure drive review, it is worth noting that the T5 Cross Country is no slouch, and can certainly hold its own in the drive stakes.
Volvo claims a zero to 100 km/h sprint time of 6.1 seconds and, despite the added weight of the four-wheel drive system, the V40 handles with enough composure and feels steadfast through even the tightest of corners at speed.
Varying road surfaces and conditions don’t phase it either, and while this may not be an issue on the generally well-maintained roads of the Western Cape, the dishevelled state of some rural byways can use a vehicle that is as pliantly sprung as the V40 Cross Country.
GOOD FOR ROAD TRIPS?
Any car needs to be good at three things to work for road trips: ample interior space, high level of comfort, and generally good fuel economy.
Yes, a great sound system and exemplary safety add to the overall package, but nothing kills the good mood of the open road quicker than being cramped, uncomfortable, or broke, before reaching your destination.
In truth, boot space in the V40 T5 Cross Country is disappointing, and taller-than-average rear passengers won’t be thrilled with the amount of head- and legroom they have.
The V40 Cross Country offers less boot space (335 to 1,032 litres) than other premium crossover including the Mercedes-Benz GLA (481 litres) and MINI Countryman (350 to 1,170 litres), while the sloping roofline makes for a tight fit for taller passengers.
That doesn’t mean, however, that the Cross Country won’t work for couples that value style and comfort during their travels. Luggage space is abundant if you’re two, and the versatility of the split folding rear seat is not a standard luxury appointment on the rival GLA.
We also found that the V40 could not quite match Volvo’s claimed 6.4-litre combined fuel consumption figures, managing a more realistic 9.7 l/100 km according to our test car’s on-board computer. Let’s not forget, though, that real world conditions vary greatly, so fuel economy figures cannot be consistently achieved in all circumstances. And if I’m honest about it, the enticing responsiveness of the turbocharged T5 Cross Country had me plant my right foot just that little bit deeper than I probably should have.
COMFORT AND SAFETY
As excellent credentials are baked into every Volvo, I won’t bore you with the technical details of it all, although it s worth noting that standard safety features on T5 derivative include ABS with EBD, brake assist, hill start assist, stability control and traction control. It also includes seven airbags, the autonomous-braking City Safe system, and whiplash protection.
In general the Volvo V40 T5 Cross Country is comfortable reasonably well-specced as standard, although our test unit also included the optional Driver Support Pack at R32,500.
For the extra dough you get the handy cross traffic alert system (CTA), Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), active high beam, lane keeping aid, driver alert system, adaptive cruise control (ACC), a rear parking camera as well as pedestrian detection.
Standard comfort features include automatic climate control and full-leather electric front seats. The car also boasts a high performance audio system with eight speakers, DVD, USB, Bluetooth, aux, voice control, and Internet access.
Although our test car was fitted with an optional panoramic sunroof at an extra R8,500, I would personally drop that option in favour of more comfort in the form of the Premium Pack that heated front seats, navigation, keyless entry/start, front and rear parking sensors, adjustable steering feedback, Harman/Kardon sound system and high-level LED headlights with active bending. Even at R20,000 for the lot, it feels like good value and adds a thick layer of sophistication to the overall package.
Priced from R551,506, the Volvo V40 T5 Cross Country Inscription AWD comes with a standard 5-year/100,000 km warranty and 5-year/100,000 km maintenance plan. Tested with R63,350 worth of extra equipment (taking the total price up to R614,856), the T5 Cross Country is priced comfortably between its MINI and Mercedes rivals.
Report by BERNIE HELLBERG | Images © TCB MEDIA (BERNIE HELLBERG)