The Volvo V40 R-Design is a definite crowd puller, but can it make its German rivals nervous?
“Now that’s a sexy hatchback.” Not my words, but those of an avid cyclist in Delhi – who couldn’t control his emotions as he rode past the Volvo V40 R-Design. It is a gorgeous vehicle no doubt, and in the passion red of our test car it certainly stands out on the road – and especially this R-Design version, which is Volvo’s sporty trim. But is it all show and no go? Well, we take it out for a spin to find out.
This low slung V40 has a combative look, with an aggressive black lower front bumper that houses vertical LED lights. The flared wheel arches add muscle to the V40’s profile. From the side, its swooping roof gives it a very funky feel – although the rear windows do seem a bit small. In my opinion, it looks the best from the rear and could give Beyonce Knowles some serious competition. The dual-colour, part-glass boot lid, sporty bumpers with aluminium inserts, and twin exhaust pipes add a lot of character and make the V40 the most striking car in its segment. Yes, even more so than a certain German entry level luxury car! And Volvo has left no bling factor out, as the two-tone 17-inch wheels are a standard-fit.
As dynamic as the V40 looks from the outside, the cabin was slightly disappointing as it was too predictable and boring. We love the all-black interiors with chrome inserts, but the chrome strip in the centre console just looks as though it’s trying a little too hard. The highlight of the cabin, though, is the digital instrument cluster that can be customised by the driver. And while this is modern and futuristic, the five-inch screen in the centre console seems a bit archaic. Plus, the reverse camera is an expensive option. The leather seats, however, like in all Volvos, are extremely comfortable and supportive.
Rev it up
Right, time to find out just what this 2-litre five-cylinder turbo-diesel heart can do. With 148bhp under the hood, the V40 has a smooth – yet slightly lethargic – pick up. It’s quite tame to 1,500rpm, after which the turbo kicks in and acceleration is achieved with a powerful thrust. As expected, the engine sound is barely audible in the cabin – and the 6-speed torque converter transmission responds quite well. To make matters more interesting it down-shifts as soon as you put your foot down to aid acceleration. But you do miss paddle shifters, especially in a luxury car of this nature.
The R-Design has a stiffer suspension compared with the regular V40, which lets you take on corners with full authority and confidence. The flip side of that, though, is the fact that you do end up feeling every bump in the road. Also, when you get really aggressive with it, the steering starts to feel a little lifeless. Still, you can have a lot of fun with this Nordic hatchback.
The V40 R-Design is a gorgeous luxury hatchback, which handles well and the 2-litre diesel provides a decent punch. It has an imposing road presence and stands out from the crowd. But the cabin does let it down somewhat. Nevertheless, it looks fantastic and provides a great alternative to the typical German luxury brigade. You get the sense that someone with a strong sense of self would drive this machine – so, every time I see one on the road you can be sure that I’ll be peering into the cabin to see just who the confident soul behind the wheel really is!
- Volvo V40 R-Design
Engine: 1,984cc / In-line 5-Cylinder / 20 Valves / Turbocharged
Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic / Front Wheel Drive
Power: 148bhp @ 3,500rpm
Torque: 350Nm @ 1,750-2,750rpm
Price: Rs. 27.7 lakhs (Ex-showroom, Delhi)