THERE'S no doubt Volvo's current compact V40 has given a whole list of hatchback competitors a massive headache since its 2012 launch.
The sexy V40, a five-door, five-seater sibling to the highly-successful C30, was the Swedish company's first model to be fully developed using Volvo's latest human-centric "Designed Around You" strategy.
Utilising input from Volvo owners throughout the world, the smallest of the V-range models featured a mix of Scandinavian design, high-tech safety features and all-round versatility and came loaded with goodies buyers now expect as standard in much larger, premium brand cars.
The hatchback was given a low and wide front end design. The classic V-shaped bonnet was enhanced by bolder lines, while the high-gloss grille was set low and wide to create an aggressive, sporty look.
The grille's lower setting was surrounded at the corners by sculpted bodywork, stretching from one wheel arch to the other. These sculptured corners, while adding character, also helped direct the airflow to improve aerodynamics.
While the V40 was then the safest and most technically-advanced Volvo yet to hit the streets, it did keep some links to the past.
The wide shoulder lines stretched back from the headlamps with sharp lines to echo the rising beltline and as it reached the end of the rear door it swept up into an integrated "hook", a feature first seen on the legendary P1800, while the hexagonal tailgate, first introduced on the C30 and inspired by the P1800ES, is now something of a Volvo signature.
Initially, Volvo earmarked a choice of three willing petrol engines and three diesel units for the V40. The five-cylinder 2.5-litre turbocharged T5 unit was good for 254bhp and produced 400Nm of torque. It was mated to an automatic gearbox and could hit 62mph from standing in just 6.7 seconds while returning up to 35.8mpg on the combined cycle.
The mid-range model included two versions of a 1.6-litre GTDi engine: T4 pumping out 180bhp and the 150bhp T3 which returned 48.7mpg with CO2 emissions set at 134g/km.
Volvo's five-cylinder two-litre D4 turbodiesel was tuned for fuel-efficient driving pleasure. It delivered 177bhp and acceleration from 0-62mph took just over eight seconds. Fuel consumption proved a decent 62.8mpg with the manual gearbox.
In addition there was a two-litre D3 producing 150bhp.
Finally, the 115bhp 1.6-litre D2 came with CO2 emissions chopped to just 94g/km - corresponding to fuel consumption of 78.8mpg aided by start-stop and braking energy regeneration which was standard throughout the range.
The V40 was kitted out with a host of safety and driver support packages, including Volvo's pedestrian detection system with full auto brake. In a world's first, it activated a pedestrian airbag from under the bonnet.
There was also an enhanced radar-based blind spot information system, adaptive cruise control, road sign information which acted as an extra "eye" on traffic and driver alert control which could tell when a driver was tired.
Other safety features include lane keeping aid with auto steering and a low-speed collision avoidance system which operated at speeds of up to 31mph.
A 2012 12-plate D2 diesel in entry-level ES trim will have a price tag somewhere between £7,355 and £9,320, while the price of a T5 Geartronic in high-end R Design Lux Nav specification will come in at between £11,430 and £14,480.
Move on a year to 2013 and a 13-plate will see similar spec examples increase in price to between £8,725 and £10,775 for the D2 and from £13,565 and £16,745 for the T5.
At these prices, they really are pretty much of a bargain buy in anyone's book.