Volvo V40 plays familiar, catchy tune

The latest in my series of “Alt-Saab” entries belongs to the new Volvo V40.

The car is launching in Australia right now and pricing starts from a pretty competitive (and sub-Saab 9-3) price of ,990 plus ORC.

Volvo V40

For that, you get a reasonably breathless 84kW (113hp) four-cylinder turbo BUT…. it’s a diesel, so it’s got great mileage and importantly, 270Nm of pulling power to make driving it a lot more pleasurable than the power rating would suggest. There’s also a five-cylinder diesel for $5K more, as well as two petrol engines: a 132kW 2.0 turbo four and the range-topping 2.5 litre five-cylinder R-Design, with 187kW (250hp) for ,000.

Those engines sit under the hood of a car with nice styling, decent equipment levels and as always, great ergonomics and safety. And speaking of the V40 hood, it’s the first in the world to be equipped with a pedestrian airbag!

Volvo V40

Cue Dudley Moore: Volvo – built to protect Volvo drivers from other Volvo drivers 🙂


The V40 appears to be a bit smaller than most Saab fans would like. It’s got the all-important rear hatch/door but you’ll need the folding rear seats for bigger items as there doesn’t look to be too much room behind them.

The equipment list is long and only gets longer the more you go up the model tree. Both generic and Volvo-centric terminology abounds depending on which one you choose:

Stop-start technology and regenerative braking.
Electrical Power Assist Steering (links with other safety aids)
Lane Keeping Aid
Park Assist Pilot
Upgraded stability and traction control
Blind Spot Information System (new, using radar)
Pedestrian Detection System
Pedestrian Airbag
Driver Alert System (incl Lane Keeping Aid, Road Side Information and Active High Beam)
Active Bending Lights

…..and all of that’s leaving out the interior trimmings and gadgets like ambient lighting, eight-speaker stereo, standard 5-inch TFT screen (upgrade to 7-inch available), LED DRL’s, parking sensors and automatic wipers.

Go further up the tree for leather, electric seats, reversing camera, etc.


The V40 has smart styling, a well designed interior, good engine options (esp in diesel markets) and I’ll look forward to actual road tests here in Australia to read how it drives. If it’s anything like recent Volvos I’ve driven then it’ll be stable and well sorted, if not thoroughly engaging.

Given that, the question remains for current/former Saab owners – would it make your list?

Volvo V40

Volvo V40


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  1. I’m wondering if that air bag couldn’t launch a pedestrian quite a distance if they time the hit just right. 🙂
    I like the car, especially the interior and dash, but it looks like the rear, below the hatch, is bulging, sagging and about to fall off.

    1. Last reports suggested the US wouldn’t get it, sadly. Something about the majority not liking wagons.

      1. This drives me mad. Sure, our lack of wagons over here does make the ones we do have all the more special, but it frustrates me to no end that so many folks here in the states prefer mammoth SUV’s to something sleek that can haul cargo.

      2. Sarcastic mode: the majority doesn’t like Volvos either, but that’s never stopped the brand before.

        I wonder if Volvo will sell the XC40 in the US. Surely they can’t claim that Americans don’t like wagon-based crossovers?

  2. Would have cross-shopped the V40 and S60, but living in the US, guess if I’m to keep my mechanic, the S60 takes it. Then again, that new M-B CLA coming this fall might warrant a look.

  3. I was a Volvo driver before becoming a Saab driver. This would very much get my interest if available in the US. But, as I’m told, we don’t like wagons or hatchbacks.

    If unfortunately not the V40, at least more hatchbacks are showing up on our shores. Some domestic.

    My OG 9-3 hatch has a few more years yet.

  4. Not bad at all, unfortunate that (see Wade’s comment above) it doesn’t appear to be U.S. bound.

    This car, and the Mercedes in this series of posts, seem to me to share some design attributes with the Hyundai Elantra GT. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I think it’s a pretty good looking car, but the similarities surprise me a bit.

  5. The car is beautiful but over engineered. That pedestrian airbag could be really hazardous to the driver’s health because I have struck 13 deer in my driving in the USA. 8 were with the SPG which is now on its 8th hood and only 1 out of the 13 was low speed. What I am saying is what happens if you kick a return punt at 60 mph like I did once at night on a country road with steep ditches on each side?

    I remember the deer sliding over the windshield due to SAAB aerodynamics trapping some of the fur in the wipers. How are you supposed to drive while being blinded by the bag? The road to Heaven is paved with good intentions!

  6. When I fell for Saab, I’d not have considered a Volvo as a viable vehicular option. But having had a V70, this seems a reasonable and desirable choice. Plus, frankly, it looks like what a modern Saab would look like, absent GM’s ham handed interference.

  7. Hi Swade – this is indeed a very good robust car. I had the MY10 Volvo S40 1.6D Drive sedan and apart from the diesel engine being sourced from Ford and few people having had issues with early failure, I had no such problems. I have emailed you the fuel consumption figures – this is actuals and verified over distances between Windhoek, Namibia and Cape Town, South Africa and the results are outstanding. I have a heavy lead foot, but even with that, I could managed to cover +1000km on a single tank fill. I am currently on my second Volvo, MY11 Volvo S60 T4 (132kW, 240Nm) with all the options ticked (adaptive cruise control where I never have to bother creeping behind trucks as the cruise control maintains the required following distance) for which I forked out USD 41’918!

    1. Hi Dannii, the 1.6 is actually a Peugeot engine and is used by Peugeot, Citroen, Ford, Volvo, Mazda and BMW. The injectors and management are brand specific.

  8. Sorry, but no way. I have had a drive in several of these, and was not amused. The styling is over the top, the interior didn’t do it for me (especially changing the colours on the dash actually made it unlegible in certain settings as I am colourblind).
    The cabin is too cramped for my frame, seats didn’t support as a Swedish seat should, I found rear view limited and the rear wiper useless in heavy rain. Rear winscreen got dirty fast. The diesels are fairly noisy, rather impolite even on a cold winter start. On the whole, I found it way too cramped inside. Bootspace is rather limited as well.

    Rear bumper design looks like a very sad smiley.

  9. My wife runs a C30 1.6 Diesel R Design and loves it, as do I.The steering lacks feel but otherwise drives brilliantly. I have been in a V40 and it is quite big – on a par with the 9-3 hatch.

    The 1 Series, A3, V40 class was Saabs for the taking, in my opinion. If history could have played out any other way Renault, Saab, Nissan with Saab concentrating on small to mid sporting hatches would have been my choice.

  10. In the UK the V40 is vastly overpriced for what is really a Ford Focus in a party frock. It is also not as big inside as you would expect – the boot (trunk) is absolutely tiny compared to the OG 93. Very disappointing.

  11. In my mind, Volvo gets more and more distant to there true spurit of volvo.
    They used to be practical, safe with easy access to cabin/trunk.

    The new forms on allmist any volvo is the oposite of what they used to be. So if they don’t atract new customers, they will loose big time.

    I’ve allways felt a volvo to be a bit boring, but true and onest.

    Now, I don’t know what they try to communicate other than “a car on the road”, just like many others.