Saturday – Image Problem

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I have a problem with things that pretend to be something they are not. Cars with paddle shift gear change which are really family hatchbacks, 2+2 coupes that have no rear legroom at all, and seven-seat MPVs that are only suitable for elves, or very small mammals.

And then we come to cars that look like SUVs but actually have no off-road capability at all. It probably started with the Rover Streetwise and let’s hope it ends with the Volvo V40 Cross Country.

I have to admit, the V40 Cross Country fooled me. Even the Volvo website suggests 4×4 ability with the offer of all-wheel drive ‘available’ on this model. It is – but only on the top of the range petrol version for around £35,000. Are you going to pay that or opt for a two-year-old Range Rover Evoque I wonder?

You certainly can’t buy a diesel-powered all-wheel drive V40 – that won’t be available until around 2016 when the XC version is launched.

So, all that plastic trim to beef up the car’s image and make it look more robust is just for show – you are paying a £1000-plus premium for no off-road ability at all.

Volvo isn’t the only manufacturer to offer this, Nissan, Kia and several others all do the same. Which makes that secondhand Evoque look even more attractive…

Wednesday – Safest Car Ever?

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Jeremy It’s our last day with the V40 – 24 hours after Volvo picked up a major safety award for the five-door hatchback. The V40 was praised for its exceptional NCAP rating and won the Auto Express Safety Award for 2013 at a ceremony in London last night.

As Car Couture has said all week, it’s hard to write about the V40 without majoring on safety. That has been confirmed with NCAP giving the car the highest ever safety rating.

Among the V40 safety features highlighted at the ceremony were Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection, Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake, Distance Alert Control, Lane Keeping Aid, Blind Spot Information System and Cross Traffic Alert.

All of these compliment the standard features fitted such as front and side airbags, side impact protection and whiplash protection system.

If you want safe, this is definitely the hatchback to buy. For the best drive however, look at a Golf, A3 or BMW 1 Series. It’s as simple as that.

 

Friday – Sweden vs Germany

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Jeremy There’s something endearing, likeable and rather ‘safe’ about the V40. Stepping into the cabin this morning was like getting reacquainted with an old friend. The last Volvo I owned was an 340, back in the 1980s. It was my father’s choice – he was paying – as the one car even I couldn’t get hurt in.

I traded the 340 in for an Alfa Romeo as quickly as possible and quickly regretted it. My student grant didn’t extend to major rust treatment on a monthly basis… Had that first flirtation with Volvo been a secondhand V40, I would probably still be driving it now.

V40 is the replacement model for the S40 and V50 and it needs to be good to beat the best of German. Well, it certainly has a more distinct look than a VW Golf, or the exceptional Audi A3. It probably holds it own about the BMW 1 Series too, although I have to say, I think the new Mercedes A-class might be the winner for best design.

From the rear, the V40 in R-Design trim looks amazing. The twin tailpipes and small rear screen tick lots of boxes. Nose on, it’s on a par with the German competition. Which begs the question, is the V40 good enough to tempt Audi/BMW/VW drivers away from their normal car purchase?

That could well come down to the driving experience and I shall give my verdict on that tomorrow…