Volvo’s new V40 will appeal to fans of fast-paced motoring. But performance like this doesn’t come cheap, writes reviewer Tim Barnes-Clay.
The standard Volvo V40 appears low, squat and capable.
It looks even better with the R-Design body kit.
Subtle but stylish exterior
This exterior comes with a host of subtle yet cool characteristics such as twin-exhaust tailpipes and five-spoke diamond-cut alloy wheels.
The cabin also gains from unique features such as embossed R-Design upholstery, sports steering wheel, sports pedals and aluminium inlays.
It’s a little disappointing then that the hot-hatch T5 R-Design version, on test here, looks the same as every other R-Design dressed V40.
But, it’s what’s under the bonnet that counts – and the tuned T5 engine effectively sets it apart from all the other V40s in the range.
A muscle-bound 2.5 litre turbocharged petrol engine churns out 250bhp, yanking the machine from 0-62 in 6.1 seconds.
Top speed is an even more impressive 155mph.
In some ways it makes the perfect sleeper car.
If you’re not sure what that is, a sleeper or Q-car is a vehicle that has high performance and an exterior that looks little or no different from a standard motor.
'Pulls like a train'
In other words it’s a bit of a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Behind the wheel you soon realise what hooligan-like behaviour the V40 T5 is capable of.
Bury your right foot in the carpet and it pulls like a freight train.
Direct it into a bend at speed and you come out the other side wondering how on earth you did it.
Take care in wet conditions
The way it hangs on to the tarmac and turns in to corners is, by and large, superb.
On the negative side, if you’re at lower speeds and decide to stamp on the accelerator you’re going to experience torque-steer.
The front-wheel-drive V40’s tyres will grapple and struggle for a firm footing as they twitch left and right.
Also, in wet conditions under aggressive driving you do get the front understeering, but lift off the throttle and the Swede soon pulls back into line.
Fun in town and country
By the way, if you’re unsure what understeer is, it’s basically what occurs when your car steers less than the amount commanded by you.
Another slight gripe is that the T5 comes with a six-speed automatic gearbox and no flappy paddles, as they’re known.
These are mounted on the steering wheel and you shift from one gear to the next, but with your thumb. With paddle shifters, the V40 T5 would be even more entertaining to drive.
Most of the time though, the Volvo makes winding country roads fun, and with its precise, nimble moves it has all it takes to stay on top of busy urban traffic too.
But the bad news is…
Alas, the potent performance of the car comes at a cost.
The V40 T5 starts at £31,900 and my test car had even more cash chucked at it.
Extra bells and whistles included a Driver Support Package which came with lane-change alert, blind-spot assist, driver-alert control and collision warning.
The Volvo was also kitted out with a full length glass sunroof, bringing the grand total to an eye-watering £38,450.
Pros & cons
- Fast √
- Fun √
- Nimble √
- Build quality √
- No flappy paddles X
- Pricey X
- Max speed: 155 mph
- 0-62 mph: 6.1 secs
- Combined mpg: 35.8
- Engine: 2497cc 5 cylinder, 20 valve, turbo petrol
- Max. power (bhp): 250 at 5400 rpm
- Max. torque (lb.ft): 265 at 1800 rpm
- CO2: 185 g/km
- Price: £31,900 on the road