Volvo has designs on


Volvo V40, 2016, R-Design, front
Volvo V40, 2016, R-Design, front, action
Volvo V40, 2016, R-Design, side, action
Volvo V40, 2016, R-Design, rear, action
Volvo V40, 2016, R-Design, interior
Volvo V40, 2016, R-Design, boot
Volvo V40, 2016, R-Design, instrument panel
Volvo V40, 2016, R-Design, seats

ORTHOPAEDIC surgeons, it was once claimed, owned more of Volvo's 240 series than any other profession because they knew, having bolted back together a few crash victims, that what you wanted as a car which doubled as a nuclear bunker and took so long to reach 60mph there was only ever going to be one winner in your low-speed shunt.

Unless you were in the habit of driving up railway tracks in which case the outcome would be fifty-fifty

Volvo has expressed its style in many manifestations over the years from the sleek P100 sports car favoured by The Saint to an imitation of a specialist brick manufacturer.

Safety was always been at the heart of matters to the extent that you were unlikely to hurt yourself in a Volvo because you were unlikely to ever buy one.

The Swedes were first to include side impact protection recognising that if a person failed to see the health giving properties of nude sub-zero swimming then they should not be trusted with a simple thing like not driving into the side of an estate car the size of Wales.

Today, after experimenting with door wedge designs, American style saloons and an obsession with safe sex the design-led maker has arrived in a happy place where its range is without question among the best.

Oh we may have giggled at likes of Liberty-knickered yummy mummies decanting Tarquins and Theodoras at the school gates in XC90s but as functional seven-seaters go it is excellent and well capable of tough off-road use at a fraction of the cost of a Range Rover.

Then there is the XC60, a car so accomplished in AWD form I bought one.

Do you know how difficult it is to get that sort of money out of a motoring journalist?

Currently all eyes are on the new XC40, a compact SUV ripping up trees and claimed to be the company's most successful model at launch in its long history of moose worrying.

Today, however, we look at an alternative in this compact practical mechanicals sector, the family-segment hatchback V40. Specifically the petrol T2 R-Design.

This is the entry level petrol engine and so while performing to a credible sub-9.5 seconds 0-60mph time it is hardly the stuff of scorched rubber but it does return a claimed 53mpg which, with an increasing panic about punishing diesel drivers, is attractive.

What is more with a 62-litre tank it has a theoretical range of over 700 miles, one of delights of a diesel.

It may not be the most exciting car but the real story behind the R-Design trim is an attractive and comfortable interior with a hint of sport about it.

As a result, if you include add ons like park assist and a comprehensive passive safety pack which protects you and wandering barmpots and cyclists, the cost of the car is up towards £28,000 but you get a lot of class and comfort for your money.

Standard equipment levels are excellent and the sports seats as good as it gets and not some form of medieval torture over long distances.

All the musical and plug in stuff is there and in Nav spec there is a voice activated sat nav. The T2 is available with a six speed manual gearbox only which is far from clunky but these days hanker after an auto. It's an age thing called arthritis.

This is a good drive, logical to operate and refined as you can expect on Britain's moonscape roads.

It is nimble, very much at home around town but if there is an area where it fails to beat the competition it is rear passenger room and a boot restricted by the sloping roofline.

The V40 was last updated in 2016 when trim was brought up to XC90 levels.

Given the pace of launches at Volvo something new cannot be far away at V level.

Of course Volvo is not just a story of XCs and V estates. There are high-end saloons so smooth you could polish surgical instruments with one.

And that may be just what the doctor ordered.


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