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OUR FLEET TEST DRIVE: Volvo V40 - First Drive

Date: 26 November 2013   |   Author: Jack Carfrae

The premium lower medium sector has seen an explosion of activity in the past 12 months with a clutch of high-profile, key model overhauls - and the latest addition to our long-term fleet is one of them.

Muscling in on territory occupied by the Audi A3, BMW 1-series and Mercedes A-class, Volvo's V40 is the boldest of the four competitors because it is entirely new with no recent history to speak of. The others against which it is directly pitched have strong pedigree in this corner of the market, so it's kudos to the Swedish brand for taking on such cast-iron competition.

But despite its status as a new entry, the V40 is strong enough to blitz its rivals in certain areas. The interior is lovely - comfortable, exceptionally refined and exquisitely built [1]. It's a very calming place to sit, too. I scribbled the notes for this during my first run with the car, which involved sitting in a huge traffic jam on the M25. Yes, that's not advisable from a duty of care/risk management perspective, but I had been sat stationary with the engine off for 10 minutes with no sign of things improving, so I was hardly dancing with death. More to the point, I wasn't in the least bit stressed or flustered. I'd  called the firm I was meeting to say I would be late, so I was content enough to stay put for a while and was in no way worried, hacked off or frustrated, which makes a change.

During that journey - which should have taken around an hour and a half but dragged on for more than double that - I also had ample opportunity to test the standard fit stop/start system [2]. This isn't big news these days because most modern cars with emissions anywhere near as low as the Volvo's 94g/km will usually have one. Some are better than others, though. I've experienced many systems that only cut out for a short period of time or hardly ever do it at all, despite the manufacturer's claims, but the V40's stop/start is faultless. The engine shuts down every time without fail and not once have I known it to fire up again after a short break because it is needed to power ancillary components, which is what happens with the majority of rivals' systems.

Only one negative aspect has so far reared its head, which is the digital radio's reception [3]. I'm a big advocate of DAB in cars because the RV benefits have been widely heralded and I love digital-only station BBC 6Music. The Volvo's system seems to struggle to maintain its reception, though, and cuts out all too often - even on major metropolis ring-roads like the M25.

Volvo V40
Mileage 706 miles
Claimed combined consumption 78.5mpg
Our average consumption 49.1mpg
Forecast CPM 51.2p
Actual CPM 53.6p
Why we're running it Can Volvo's first stab at the increasingly competitive premium lower medium market cut it with the big boys?
P11D price (without options) £24,740
Price range £19,995-£33,875
Depreciation cost £15,215
Fuel cost £5201
SMR cost £2610
VED £0
National Insurance £1434
Insurance £2880
C02 (tax) 94g/km (13%)
BIK 20/40% per month £54/£107


  • Superb cabin and faultless stop/start
  • Poor digital radio reception