One suave, sexy Swede

23 October 2012 - 21:38 By BOBBY CHEETHAM

The new Volvo V40 hatchback lineup is arguably the best looking range so far to emerge from the Swedish car manufacturer which is now owned by China's Geely.

What a lineup it is. With prices starting at R281200, rising to R397100, the 16 variants are designed to appeal to most tastes and pockets!

Volvo is first launching the V40 in T3 manual, T4 manual, D2 manual and D3 Geartronic derivatives. The remainder of the local lineup, including the spectacular V40 R-Design, will be available from March next year.

What is it?

The V40 (based on the Ford Focus) is a modern car with a Scandinavian luxury look and feel. It also has a high-quality aura and meticulous attention to detail and a bewildering array of computer settings that will have many drivers searching the net for the "Instruction manual for V40 Dummies"- of which, obviously, there is none. It really is difficult to get to grips with the on-board computer!

The engine range spans everything from Volvo's first diesel with CO2 emissions of just 94g/km to the turbocharged T5 petrol engine, with 187kW and acceleration from 0 to 100km/h in 6.7 seconds.

All engine variants feature start-stop and braking energy regeneration, no matter whether they are fitted with a manual or automatic gearbox.

How does it look?

Bloody brilliant! At last Volvo has broken away from the Ikea boxed furniture type of vehicle mentality and set the benchmark for hatchback looks and design.

The blend of coupé-like roofline and dynamic sculpted surfaces gives the car a modern, athletic look. However, it is also a proud descendant of classic Volvos, thanks to subtle design cues from the iconic P1800.

What's it like to drive?

The launch drive took place in Knysna and surrounds and was confined to tar roads.

The petrol models were brisk and handled well. However, we found the turbo diesel models suffered from lag in the lower rev range but once above that the torque kicked in and provided a satisfactory driving experience.

inside the car, we found that the roof line was low and we bumped our heads a few times.

Packed with the latest safety features (Euro five-star rating), the V40 is once again a market leader with class-leading safety and driver support package, including Volvo's groundbreaking pedestrian detection system, with full auto brake and several other new features.

Any special features?

There are many, including a world-first pedestrian airbag, lane keeping aid with auto steering, and an ingenious park assist pilot that makes parallel parking easy.

The city safety low-speed collision avoidance system has been further developed and it now operates at speeds up to 50km/h.

Volvo says the V40 is the most intelligent and safest Volvo model so far.

Should you buy one?

As we mentioned above, the V40 has a 16-variant lineup and sets the benchmark for hatchbacks in price and styling so that, if you are in the market for an ultra-safe, modern car, then a test drive is a must. It's a no-brainer!

The Specs:

Volvo V40 T5 direct injection turbo

Engine: 2497cc five-cylinder petrol

Power: 187kW at 5400rpm

Torque: 360Nm between 1800 and 4200rpm

0-100km/h: 6.7 seconds

Top speed: N/A

Fuel consumption: 6.2/100km (claimed combined)

CO2: 185g/km

Price: R387600

Volvo V40 D3 Geartronic Elite

Engine: 1990cc five-cylinder turbodiesel

Power: 110kW (rpm N/A)

Torque: 360Nm (rpm N/A)

0-100km/h: 9.3seconds

Top speed: 205km/h

Fuel consumption: 7.9 /100km (claimed combined)

CO2: 136g/km

Price: R353700

We like:

Brilliant styling

We don't like:

Inside roofline is low