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By Tim Barnes-Clay, Motoring Journalist

The five-door Volvo V40 is pitched against premium family hatchbacks such as Audi’s A3 Sportback and Volkswagen’s Golf. Good looks, decent kit and a wide line-up of petrol and diesel powered engines are appealing and, being a Volvo, it sets the benchmark for safety in its segment.

The latest version is a classy hatchback that has genuine strong points, comprising low CO2 emissions and an upmarket cabin. The D4 version, tested here in Momentum trim, is efficient (74.3mpg / 99g/km CO2), considering the power on tap.

The front-wheel drive V40 has oodles of traction in all types of weather, but the steering isn’t very well-weighted, resulting in a disconnected feel on twisty country roads. That said, body roll is hardly evident, and the D4’s 6-speed manual gearbox is slick and effortless in climbing up and down the gears.

The car is rapid – achieving 0-62mph in 7.4 seconds and maxing out at 143mph. Unsurprisingly, then, the car is more at home on faster stretches of road. In fact, it is a born mile-muncher – gobbling up motorway miles comfortably and without fuss. The D4 is a quiet cruiser, too, with only a mild diesel tone noticeable at the legal limit.

There’s a good choice of seat and steering wheel adjustment to help you find a relaxed driving position, and, arguably, the Volvo V40 has the comfiest seats in its segment. Steering-wheel controls are standard on all V40s, and make it a piece-of-cake to change the radio channel or adjust the volume. The Swedish car also has one of the better sound systems with an eight-speaker factory-fitted set-up. An even more splendid Harman Kardon system is available on the options tick-list.

There is wholesome head and legroom in the front to get comfortable, and cabin storage space is good, too. Headroom is a tad tighter in the V40’s rear, but as long as you’re not over 6ft it shouldn’t be an issue. Legroom in the back is about the same as in the Audi A3 Sportback and VW Golf – so no great dramas there, either.

The Volvo’s boot doesn’t do so well. It’s quite small and narrow, so it’s not the best for load carrying. However, it’s okay as long as you’re not stuffing in suitcases, and the like, every day – and the variable-height boot floor is a plus point.

In summary, the V40 is a brilliant car for long distance commutes. It’s not without talent in town, either, with the light steering set-up making parking in town a doddle. Put simply, the V40 D4 represents a decent choice in the premium hatchback crowd. It may not have the most spacious load area, but it’s a comfortable, quick, safe and economical car – and you usually get what you pay for, don’t you?

Fast facts

Max speed: 143 mph
0-62 mph: 7.4 secs
Combined mpg: 74.3
Engine layout: 1969cc 4-cylinder 16v turbo diesel  
Max. power (bhp): 190
CO2: 99g/km
Price: £25,455

Pros and cons

Safe

Comfortable

Efficient

Kit

Boot space

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