Wednesday – Hot & Cold

cropped-47393_4_13.jpg

Jeremy Last day with the V40. I might have been a bit harsh about Volvo’s family hatchback. I really do like the way it looks and the interior, especially the dashboard, is a neat piece of work.

Quality is up there with Volkswagen and the seats in particular are comfy and substantial – I like the way the rear headrests drop forward when not required too.

I have found rear visibility a little lacking because of the small screen but the trade off is that the boot is a decent size for a small hatch.

While neither Jessica or I truly got to grips with the heating system, I can tell you the heated seats are quick to warm up – as if the heated front screen which clears in seconds.

Tuesday – Small Car, Big Ideas

copy-47402_4_13.jpg

Jessica Volvo, never a brand to evoke thrill or excitement, more a sense of stability and safety, is attempting to join the rat race for small off-road style cars with the V40 Cross Country.

Very few of us actually live where we need to do any off-roading, or even negotiate stony old roads or tracks in our commute and daily activities. So it’s is puzzling to comprehend what this car is actually meant to be for.

I found my long (hardly orangutan proportion) arms having difficulty with elbow room. I felt cramped in the drivers seat, which had to be at full extension to accommodate my not too giraffe like legs. Only a small child or an orangutan of my own could fit on the seat behind me.

Something to bear in mind, if you go and stay in a draughty country house (with no central heating) and you want to hop into the car to warm up, you will have trouble staving off hypothermia! There is no hot blast from the heating system and the controls are complicated. Take more thermals with you, or get yourself a car ‘onesie’ to survive extreme conditions.

The V40 is fairly fast and easy to drive but the lower gears are tricky and it is difficult to drive smoothly in stop-start traffic.

All in all, fundamentally there is good stuff going on. Perhaps Cross Country is too big a label for this hatchback car.

Monday – What Is Love?

47390_4_13.jpg

The best cars I have ever owned are the ones I fell in love with. Let me say from the start, I would never fall in love with the Volvo V40 Cross Country, or any other small family hatchback for that matter.

The V40 is one of the smartest small hatchbacks on the market, especially with the additional Cross Country trim. And that’s despite the fact this model is no better off road than the other two-wheel drive V40s.

The extra body mouldings and slightly raised suspension are supposed to appeal to our adventurous spirit. I would rather spend the £1000 premium for the Cross Country on an adventure holiday instead.

Like all Volvos, the V40 is packed with safety equipment but some of it can be infuriating, as our earlier reports reveal. That said, it does feel like a well-built, robust car that’s well screwed together.

The D4 diesel engine is excellent but trying to keep the front wheels from spinning under acceleration is surprisingly hard. If only this car really did have four-wheel drive!

It has served us well over Christmas, averaged over 47mpg, carried five people in reasonable comfort and waded through many a flood too – but we are not going to fall in love, that’s for sure.

Sunday – Weighty Issues

45065_4_13.jpg

So, I’m driving back from my afternoon run with a small rucksack on the V40 passenger seat. Nothing heavy in it – just a bottle of water, a dry pair of shoes and an energy bar. After 200 yards an alarm sounds, warning me that the passenger safety belt isn’t fastened.

This I find very odd. I know Volvo covet the super safe appeal of their cars but what size of passenger weighs the same as a rucksack, water bottle, shoes and an energy bar?

Rather that drop the bag on the floor, it became a personal battle of wits between myself and the seat alarm. If I propped the bag upright, the noise continued – if I lay it flat, the seat sensors didn’t detect the weight. Until I went round a corner, the bag shifted and the alarm sounded again.

I have already deactivated the Volvo’s lane departure warning system and would happily cut the wire on the alarm and flashing red lights that ensue when it thinks I’m about to rear-end another vehicle.

But a super-sensitive seat alarm? Maybe this wet weather is driving me nuts but it all seems a little ‘too safe’ for comfort to me…

Saturday – Climb Every Mountain

47400_4_13.jpg

Just back from interviewing North Face ambassador James Pearson in London. The 28-year-old is one of Britain’s best climbers – and it was quite an adventure trekking down a very wet A303 in the V40 to meet at a climbing centre in Stoke Newington.

Pearson is of ‘no fixed abode’ and spends his life roaming around the mountains of Europe with his wife in a camper van. Sounds like fun but I wonder how he would fare in a Volvo?

Well, I’d say it’s very much a small family hatchback and even with the back seats folding down, you would have trouble stretching out for a good night’s sleep, especially as the base of the rear seats don’t fold flat.

It does have  plenty of cubbyholes and spaces up front and the Cross Country looks especially macho if you add a Volvo roof box to the fixed roof bars.

The front seats have three-stage heat – great for an Alpine adventure – but we found it difficult to get the climate control at the right level, how ever much we played with the rather complicated controls. Love the sound system though – especially the thumping bass speaker.