SECTOR: Medium hatchback PRICE: €35,374 (as tested) FUEL: 4.3l/100km  CO2: 114g/km

The Volvo V40, launched in Q4 2012 was the first new model to be launched since Volvo was acquired by Geely of China in 2010. It replaced the previous S40 model, launched in 2004 and based on the Ford Focus platform, but with significant modification by Volvo.

The latest model is completely new and barely had it hit the road when Volvo unveiled the V40 Cross Country at the Paris Show last September. Our test is of the V40 D3, which has all the ingredients of a successful premium diesel model in its segment. D3 denotes that under the bonnet sits the least powerful variant of Volvo’s five-cylinder 1,984cc diesel, producing 150hp at a relatively low 3,500rpm and 350Nm of torque, across a broad rev range from 1,500rpm to 2,750rpm.

Five-cylinder diesels are comparatively rare now, as manufacturers opt for the lower friction of four-cylinder engines with the potential for better fuel consumption and lower emissions. That said, the Volvo’s 4.3l/100km combined consumption figure and 114g/km of CO2 are impressive figures. So in some ways, drivers can have it all their own way, with the enticing offbeat sound of a five-cylinder engine, plus fuel economy that would have been inconceivable from an engine of this size a few years ago.

UK specification SE models gain cruise control, keyless start and automatic folding door mirrors, while engine Stop/Start, Bluetooth connectivity and a high performance audio system are standard across the range. Inevitably, there’s a host of standard safety equipment too including a pedestrian airbag, driver’s side knee airbag, as well as side and curtain airbags.

Our test car came with no less than €6,714 worth of additional equipment. Among the options fitted were the driver support pack, which incorporates collision warning with full automatic braking, pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control and distance alert, lane keeping aid, automatic dipping headlamps and road sign information display, plus a blind spot information system.

The winter illumination pack – the second most expensive option fitted – included steered Xenon headlamps, heated front seats, (that used to be standard on Volvos of old) and a heated front windscreen.

Many of these items are of some value, but I found the adaptive cruise control system difficult to adapt to. Despite turning the distance sensor to its shortest setting on motorways, it would lock on to a slower car in front at some distance. It couldn’t be switched back to a standard cruise control either. But it’s an option and one that many fleets would probably not bother with. Otherwise, it’s a pleasant car with performance in reserve and the attraction of the standard safety equipment, while also being entertaining enough for enthusiastic drivers.

The only real disappointment was the level of road noise in our test car, which seemed excessive, especially for a car at this price. On the plus side, it has one of the most impressive digital speedometers and instrument packs that I have seen and generally it’s easy to navigate through the information available. Build quality is good and while the V40 doesn’t impress in quite the same way as the latest Golf, it has enough individuality to make a viable alternative.

Verdict

Swedish car makers, even if Chinese owned, do things differently to the German premium manufacturers. The V40 is undoubtedly a good fleet choice, with the right specification.