The all-new Volvo V40 is a sporty five-door hatchback that sets new ride handling, fuel efficiency and safety standards in its class.
Its eye-catching coupé design, which uses styling cues from the C30 coupé and classic P1800ES Volvo, is sportier and sleeker than the homogeneous class norm.
Special attention has been given to handling, steering feel, agility and ride comfort. Volvo engineers believe that the Volvo V40 is now the class benchmark for dynamic fineness.
Volvo's reputation for safety leadership has not been overlooked. A new innovation, Pedestrian Airbag Technology, joins a previous Volvo world-first, Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake, which was first shown on the Volvo S60. Together, they ensure the all-new V40 offers unrivalled protection for pedestrians, as well as for the car's occupants.
The new Pedestrian Airbag, which makes its world debut on the Volvo V40, inflates from under the rear edge of the bonnet when the car detects that it has hit a pedestrian. The raised bonnet better cushions the unfortunate pedestrian, and the airbag also protects the pedestrian's head from the "hard points" at the base of the windscreen and the lower A-pillars.
Low, sleek and sporty, the Volvo V40 is one of the most eye-catching Volvos ever. It looks like a two-door car, thanks to the low roof (29 mm or 1.1 inches lower than a C30) and bonnet lines. In fact, it's a five-door hatchback with all the functionality and practicality you'd expect from a Volvo.
Exterior designed in Volvo's Californian studio
The exterior was designed by Chris Benjamin, Design Director at Volvo's Californian studio in Camarillo, north-west of Los Angeles. "I wanted a car with a wedge shape, a high tail and wide shoulders. I see it as a combination of coupé and a sports wagon. Volvo has always done estates well and has had some classic coupés too." He describes it as, "a 3D piece of art you can drive".
The sleek exterior profile is accentuated by the low and wide high gloss grille that accentuates the car's ground hugging qualities. Daytime LED running lights are set into the lower corners of the front end, giving a "blade design" appearance. LEDs are also used in the door mirror turn indicators, rear position lights, high position rear brake light and in rear number plate illumination.
Volvo's classic V-shaped bonnet has bolder edging. The wide shoulders stretch from just behind the headlamps. They, too, are sharp edged, echoing the rising beltline. At the end of the rear door it sweeps into an integrated "hook", a design legacy from the P1800 coupé.
Dramatic wedge shape with wide shoulders
The roof silhouette is also wedge shaped, and contributes to the lean-forward stance. Rear tail lamps are positioned high, for maximum visibility, and follow the curvature of the shoulders. The broad-shouldered look is another Volvo design trademark, which goes back to the Amazon models of the '50s and was reintroduced by Volvo's British-born design boss Peter Horbury on the S80 and V70.
"We have pulled in the D-pillar considerably," says Benjamin. "This gives a teardrop shape to the glasshouse and has paved the way for the powerful rear shoulder that is such a distinctive feature. The low height also improves the frontal area, which leads to better aerodynamics and lower CO2 emissions."
His favourite design feature? "The sculpted rear. It too has a low wide look that radiates a lot of confidence. The hexagonal shape of the tailgate is now something of a Volvo hallmark, aligning the Volvo V40 design with the look of our V60 sports wagon." The tailgate design, first introduced on the C30 and also inspired by the P1800ES, is a further Volvo signature.
The Volvo V40 was designed under the leadership of Steve Mattin, Volvo's then Vice-President of Design. As is usual for new models, Volvo's design satellites in Camarillo and Barcelona pitched ideas against the head office in Gothenburg. (Since then, a new design studio has been added in Shanghai.) Chris Benjamin's Camarillo proposal was eventually chosen. Benjamin then spent two years working and living in Gothenburg, finishing the car.
"This is one car that actually improved as it got nearer production," says Benjamin. "I wanted a really emotionally pleasing piece of design. For me, too many modern cars have become machine like, they're too commodity like. I wanted to rediscover some design romance with some really voluptuous surfacing. The surfacing is a mixture of hard edges and softness, like the V60 and S60 but pushed to another level."
Some pleasing small details: it is the first Volvo with body colour washer jet nozzles and is the first Volvo that uses hemmed wheel flanges, which allows the use of bigger wheel and tyre combinations.
Another practical new detail is that the fuel-filler pipe is self-closing. This is a "smart" design that makes refuelling easier as there is no longer a need for a fuel-filler cap.
At 4369 mm in length, the Volvo V40 is slightly longer than an Audi A3 or BMW 1-Series, and slightly wider too. The drag co-efficient varies from 0.29 to 0.31 depending on tyre and wheel choices.
Personalisation is a key aspect of "Designed Around You", the central theme of all new Volvos. This includes an exterior styling kit, which further improves aerodynamic efficiency and gives an even sportier aura. The kit includes deflectors, a twin-coloured rear diffuser, a striping kit and enlarged rectangular chromed tail pipes.
Panoramic glass roof improves feel of spaciousness
A fixed panoramic glass roof, stretching from the front windscreen to the backrest of the rear seats, improves the feeling of light and space in the car and makes the cabin even airier and brighter. The roof is tinted to reduce infrared radiation into the cabin. A fabric curtain, under the roof, provides shade, and can be used to block out the sun for part of the cabin. So the rear passengers, for example, can enjoy sunshine while the driver relaxes in shade.
The all-new Volvo V40 comes with a choice of 16-, 17- or 18-inch wheels, depending on trim level and customer specification.
Nowhere is Volvo's "Designed Around You" philosophy better manifested than in the cabin. It is comfortable, simple in design (like all good Scandinavian design), intuitive and visually pleasing. "The interior of the all-new Volvo V40 is designed around people and puts a strong emphasis on ergonomics, comfort and an in-command driving experience," says Sven-Olof Persson, Interior Design Manager.
Adds President and CEO Stefan Jacoby: "The all-new V40 has the most intuitive driver interface ever in a Volvo. We believe that the ultimate luxury is to own a car that fits you, understands you and evolves together with you. You jump in behind the wheel for the first time. You take a look at the dashboard and you find everything so functional and obvious that you are ready to take off directly.
"We design cars around people's needs and lifestyle. Creating an intuitive and ergonomically optimised driver's environment is part of our aim to offer a feeling of relaxed control."
Volvo is renowned for the quality of its car cabins, its ergonomics and its seating comfort. The all-new Volvo V40 takes all these qualities to a new level.
"Big car" feel
The large and wide instrument panel accentuates the "big car" feel, as does the airiness offered by the deep windscreen and panoramic glass roof (when fitted). Instrumentation is classy yet simple. Intuitive design is a Volvo hallmark.
The cabin is full of easy-to-use technology, all part of Volvo's high-tech but easy to use HMI (Human-Machine Interface). The infotainment system - combining audio, navigation, mobile phone and other functions - is presented on a five- or seven-inch colour screen in the upper part of the centre console. It's set high to make it easier for the driver to keep his or her eyes on the road. All functions can be controlled from the steering wheel, or by controls directly below the screen.
The human-machine interface is a crucial quality of any Volvo. The controls are so intuitive that Volvo's goal was to make reading the instruction manual unnecessary.
"My Car" button typical of easy-to-use technology
The "My Car" button on the dashboard offers easy access to a wide range of personalised settings for City Safety, Collision Warning, Pedestrian Detection, Driver Alert System, Active Cruise Control, lighting, door mirrors, climate unit, central locking and audio system.
If the customer chooses a Multimedia audio system, Volvo's infotainment system comes upgraded with the larger seven-inch screen that also displays information and images from the navigation system, phone, reversing camera, DVD player, digital TV and more.
The Bluetooth connection has been upgraded to allow not only hands-free phone conversations but also music streaming from your preferred Bluetooth-enabled portable music player. Volvo is the only brand to offer Bluetooth throughout the entire range as standard. Integrated navigation with voice commands is available as an option.
High-tech TFT instrumentation available
The TFT (thin film transistor) instrument display is new for Volvo and also a class-first. It offers excellent legibility in all light conditions, can prioritise information in emergency situations, and also allows the display to be personalised - all part of Volvo's "Designed Around You" philosophy.
There are three settings:
- The "Eco" theme has a green background and includes an economy meter to allow you to drive as economically as possible. A green light is illuminated when your eco driving is optimal.
- The "Performance" theme has red background illumination and includes a power meter that tells the driver how much power is being used and how much is available. In this mode, the tachometer is centralised on the instrument display, and speed is shown digitally. This is the setting of choice when spirited driving is preferred.
- The "Elegance" theme has an amber illumination and gives a more conventional dash display. It's perfect for a calm, relaxing drive, and will probably be the everyday setting of choice.
The instrument display also includes navigation instructions, when satellite navigation is fitted.
The V40's cabin is designed around the driver, but never to the exclusion of passenger comfort. "It's driver oriented," notes design director Chris Benjamin. "You feel you're in a real cockpit. But the passengers never feel isolated."
Improved iconic centre stack
The floating centre stack, first seen on the S40 and V50 in 2003 has become a Volvo design trademark and is the centrepiece of the Volvo V40 cockpit. It was inspired by Swedish furniture and its tendency to "bend wood". The depth of the stack gives the effect that it "floats".
On the V40, the centre stack is even more sculpted. "It's larger at the top and tapers down. This helps to increase knee room for driver and front passenger," notes Chris Benjamin. The centre stack comes as standard in charcoal, upgrading to Shimmer Graphic in the higher trim levels. Modern Wood and Centre Court (tennis-inspired look with a red stripe) are available as an accessory.
The centre stack has a Silk Metal Chrome finish frame that enhances the décor. The same finish is also found in the doors and on the instrument panel as well as around the centre display, outer air vents, start button and gearshift gaiter.
A design highlight is the unusual yet classy rimless rear view mirror - without an unsightly plastic surround. It was inspired by classic '50s and '60s cars, many of which had dainty rimless rear view mirrors.
Sculpted seats, including in rear
Volvo is famed for its seating comfort. On the Volvo V40 the seats are new. Like the front seats, the outer rear seats are also noticeably sculpted, to offer greater comfort and support. You sit slightly more inboard than the norm, moving you further from the doors and allowing greater forward visibility. The rear seat is ideal for two people, although there is ample room for three.
Front and rear seat heaters are available. The latter is an unusual Volvo speciality, an upshot of our chilly home market.
There is extensive storage space. Below the armrest is a storage compartment suitable for CDs and other small items. It also has a connector for either USB/iPod or AUX. Two cupholders and a 12V power outlet are integrated in the console in front of the armrest.
The glovebox has space for two soft-drinks cans or bottles. It is refrigerated with cold air from the Electronic Climate Control system.
Other convenient features include an accessory supplied sunglass compartment above the driver's door, a pen holder in the glove compartment and handy storage compartments under the instrument panel and on the outside of the outer rear seats. Another smart detail is the specially designed, drained storage unit for an ice scraper in the driver's door panel.
The interior lighting is designed to give a "theatre lighting" feel. This adds to the luxury feel of the interior. LED lamps are used to light up strategic areas. The driver can enjoy a red-to-blue setting that adapts the light to the interior temperature - or choose between another seven mood themes. The reading lights front and rear can be dimmed.
There is an optional gearshift knob for the automatic and manual transmissions which is transparent and LED-illuminated from inside. There are also LED lights in the door panel storage pockets. This is another example of elegant imaginative design, boosting the quality feel of the cabin.
"Plus that illuminator gear shifter looks great at night," notes Chris Benjamin. "It's a real conversation topic."
The two-piece, 40/60, rear seat backrest can be easily folded in different ways when carrying long objects. The front passenger seat can be folded forward to create even more space.
There is a practical hanging load net in the load compartment. A soft safety net is optional and a metal version is available as an accessory.
Twin floor boot
The V40 can be equipped with an "extra" floor in the load compartment, making the floor flat when the rear seat is folded. In addition to the two permanent hooks, the extra floor integrates hooks for grocery bags. Between the upper and lower floors there is a concealed storage area.
The accessory range includes a "Cargo Mat Organiser" that keeps smaller items secure, as well as a "Load Organiser" that includes a load compartment divider, a load belt and two floor rails.
High quality upholstery and trim
Luxury materials, including leather, aluminium and high-quality fabrics, are used throughout. The leathers are tanned organically, which means they age better, and develop a patina as they mature. Quality stitching is a feature, even on the man-made fabrics. Buyers have a choice of leather, sporty T-Tec (a synthetic "skin" inspired by wetsuits and other durable outdoor gear) and Lorensburg textile (a finely woven fabric that feels very modern and durable). Real aluminium inlays are also a highlight.
Charcoal upholstery is, of course available, but Sweden is famous for its lighter hues - an upshot of those long, dark winters. So charcoal and blond, as well as espresso and blond themes are also available.
DRIVING DYNAMICS: CHASSIS
A huge effort has gone into making the Volvo V40 the class leader in all-round dynamics. According to Stefan Karlsson, Manager of Vehicle Dynamics and Calibration, Volvo wanted a "great balance of ride, handling, steering and braking, as well as the driver assistance functions".
He feels the V40's special niche is, "the whole connected feel of the car. The way you are always in charge, never with any nasty surprises. It's the intuitive way the car drives and behaves. If the driver is well informed on the behaviour of the car, he or she will always make the right decisions. He or she will be a better driver, will enjoy driving more, and be a safer driver."
Great steering feel connects you to road
Special emphasis was put into the steering, "the main connector with you and the road. We tried very hard to ensure that the steering provides an intuitive and linear feel between you and the road. That way it's very responsive and very precise. I'm confident we are more 'connected' than rivals. I think we really have an edge here."
The Electrical Power Assist Steering (EPAS) system uses electric power on a rack and pinion. Early electric steering systems were sometimes criticised for lack of feel but Karlsson says Volvo has conquered that failing, and claims that feedback and feel is now as "as good as a good hydraulic steering system". A key benefit of electric steering is that, because there is no hydraulic assistance, there are fuel economy savings.
The steering column's thick tubing and stiff insulation increase torsional rigidity. This also contributes to the enhanced feeling of direct contact with the wheels and the road.
The electric steering allows you to choose between three levels of power assistance. In Low mode the system provides a high degree of power support, making manoeuvring easier. Medium mode has lower power support to offer more road response at higher speeds. High mode is the ultimate setting for the enthusiastic driver, contributing to the car's dynamic character.
The Electrical Power Assist Steering also allows for the integration of safety and driver support functions that involve the steering, such as Lane Departure Warning and Park Assist Pilot.
Suspension tested in Britain
The damper tuning on the all-new Volvo V40 was done mostly in the UK, on our country's legendary B-roads. "It was Richard Parry-Jones [legendary Ford technical director] who first alerted us to the advantages of using British B-roads," says Karlsson. "They test every possible area of damping, because of their roughness, their camber changes, their undulations and the variety of corners." Karlsson says Volvo now does "90 per cent of our damper tuning in the UK. And the dampers are such a critical part of the suspension. They affect ride, handling, steering - everything."
The dampers include rear monotube designs that have compression and rebound damping done by the same valve. This gives shorter, faster fluid flow, which in turn means that the damper responds more quickly.
Karlsson is part of a small (only four engineers) dynamic team that test new Volvos partly "by the seat of the pants". Of course we have tons of people working on CAE [computer-aided engineering]. Our suspension designed is heavily influenced by them. But real-world driving is also crucial. So it's a mixture of subjective testing and objective measurement."
The four chassis dynamic team members each averages 15 years of driving-tuning experience. "My background is as a calculations engineer. One of my team is a Swedish rally driver." Karlsson races a Mazda MX-5 sports car on weekends.
The chassis set up - fully independent suspension front and rear, using MacPherson struts at the front - is complemented by a suite of electronic controls, designed to boost safety but also improve driving enjoyment.
DSTC improves safety and driving enjoyment
The Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC) system in the Volvo V40 includes several sophisticated features that offer a unique blend of driving pleasure and safety. The Advanced Stability Control, that is part of it, uses a roll angle sensor that makes it possible to identify any skidding tendency at an early stage. This means that the stability control system can step in earlier and with greater precision. Advanced Stability Control is a great asset in dynamic driving involving considerable lateral forces, improving handling and rapid avoidance manoeuvres.
Engine Drag Control prevents the wheels from locking during engine braking on a slippery surface.
If the car is equipped with a towbar, Trailer Stability Assist helps dampen the snaking action that may occur when towing a trailer or caravan. The car is stabilised by braking one or more wheels and by reducing torque.
Corner Traction Control improves handling
Corner Traction Control is a new feature of the Volvo V40 that uses torque vectoring to make the car corner even more smoothly. The car's inner driven wheel is braked, causing more power to be transmitted to the outer driven wheel. This allows the driver to corner more tightly while reducing any tendency to understeer.
This system makes it easier to smoothly maintain the desired line on winding roads, in roundabouts and on wet surfaces. Corner Traction Control is a huge asset when exiting from a small side road to merge swiftly with faster highway traffic.
The standard V40 comes with a "dynamic" chassis, but a "sports" chassis is also available. This lowers the ride height by 10mm (just under half an inch), lowering the centre of gravity and offering firmer springs and dampers, to give even more responsive driving.
Comfort is a priority
Although the emphasis is very much on a sporty driver feel, Stefan Karlsson says comfort has not been sacrificed. "That is one of the things we're really proud of - it's a very agile, responsive car, but ride comfort is also excellent."
A dynamic and safe car obviously needs excellent brakes. The all-new V40 comes with four wheel discs, ventilated at the front. Anti-lock braking system (ABS) is standard, and so is Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) and Electronic Brake Assist (EBA).
EBA helps the driver stop in the shortest possible time in an emergency stop. The system detects if the driver is in an emergency brake situation and, even if the pedal has not been pushed with maximum force, it applies maximum braking power.
EBD varies the braking pressure to each wheel - depending on speed and road conditions - ensuring maximum stopping power yet full vehicle control.
Both EBA and EBD work in conjunction with the anti-lock brakes.
DRIVING DYNAMICS: POWERTRAINS
The all-new Volvo V40 has a wide choice of turbocharged diesel or petrol engines, both available in four- and five-cylinder forms. In the UK, diesel is likely to account for over 80 per cent of sales, and Volvo estimates the D2 will constitute about 63 per cent of total V40 UK sales.
The big seller will be the 1.6-litre four-cylinder diesel D2. This highly-efficient engine delivers an amazing 94 g/km CO2, the best in class. That equates to 78.5 mpg on the combined cycle.
Such outstandingly low figures make the Benefit in Kind company car tax very low (L43 BIK a month for 20% tax payers). There are also major benefits in other taxation. For example, the sub-100g figure means there is no vehicle tax either in the first year or in subsequent years. It is also currently exempt from the London Congestion Charge.
The D2 is an eight-valve engine using the latest common rail direct injection. Piezo-electric injectors ensure particularly precise distribution of the atomized fuel, resulting in efficient combustion and low emissions. The cylinder block and head are both made from aluminium, ensuring low weight.
Maximum power is 115hp while maximum torque is a healthy 270 Nm, available from 1750-2500 rpm. Even at 4000rpm, the engine is still producing almost 200 Nm of torque. The D2 is only available with a six-speed manual transmission.
Using optional 225 - rather than standard 205 - tyres, CO2 emissions increase to 99 g/km.
Top speed is 118 mph and 0-60 mph acceleration takes 11.7 seconds.
The other two diesel engines on offer are the five-cylinder D3 and D4. Both have aluminium blocks and heads for lighter weight, and use four valves per cylinder for improved breathing.
The D3 and D4 both have 2.0-litre capacities. The former - likely to be the second best selling engine version in the UK - produces 150 hp and 350 Nm of torque from 1500-2750 rpm. The flat torque curve - which makes for better acceleration over a broader rev range - means it is still producing over 200 Nm at 4750 rpm.
On the top diesel version - the D4 - extra turbo boost means power jumps to 177 hp and maximum torque to 400 Nm. Maximum torque is achieved from 1750 to 2750 rpm. As with the D3, it is also strong even at very low revs: at just over 1000rpm, 100 Nm is being produced. This makes both the D3 and D4 very flexible and tractable.
The D3 and D4 both come with a choice of six-speed manual or automatic transmissions. In manual guise, top speed is 130 mph (D3) and 137 mph (D4), while 0-60 mph acceleration takes 9.1 seconds and 8.2 seconds respectively.
Both five-cylinder engines also offer fine economy and low emissions. The D3 produces 114 g/km of CO2 as a manual, which puts it in vehicle tax band C. No vehicle tax is payable in the first year. The manual D4 emits the same CO2, excellent for a high performance diesel. Combined fuel economy for both engines is 65.7 mpg.