THE ascendancy of Volvo’s acclaimed hatchback — the V40 — continues apace with the emergence of a new and fast version.
This is the V40 T5 R-Design, a car with beef and brains in equal measure. This is the one for those who want Volvo’s proven safety and endurance package plus more oomph besides.
The latter comes in the form of a very useful 2.5-litre, 20-valve, five-cylinder direct fuel injection petrol engine that — particularly in sports mode — gives the V40 T5 R-Design lift off in a big way.
I am not fond of words associated with those keen on cars — for example, the overused “petrol head” tag or even that old Top Gear favourite “bonkers”, usually applied when describing a car that delights through its uninhibited performance.
But in sports mode, this V40 T5 R-Design really does go into, well, “bonkers” mode, producing a turn of performance that would satisfy the most slavering of petrol heads. Boy racers beware: this is a car for the grown-ups.
I liked this leap into another realm of driving. Although on balance I would probably prefer to drive the V40 CC D2 Lux — my car of the year for 2013 — I can certainly see the attraction of the R-Design.
There is also a hint from Volvo of its thinking here: the R-Design offers an option on the V40 range for those who like their cars with, let’s say, more explosive get-up-and-go. Even the colour of the test car — a V40 T5 R-Design Lux Nav GT — is described as “Rebel Blue”.
OK, so rebellious and edgy credentials have been established for this V40.
But it was also comfortable and has all of what is attractive about the V40.
This R-Design version had a beautiful, stitched black leather interior, a nice, subtle, full-length sunroof, special seats and an interior ambience to match its “rocket-ship” aspirations.
How does the V40 T5 R-Design perform? Well, this T5 model with auto Geartronic transmission clocks just 5.7 seconds going from a standing start to 62mph and can top out at a speed of 155mph.
Surely that’s enough excitement for anyone contemplating buying a car in this favourite segment for car-buyers.
And I think this hot hatch is harmonious too with not-so-deep pockets. The test car on-the-road price started around the £31,000 mark — less options — which is I think good for a performance car with the comforts and proven antecedents of any modern Volvo.
Interior lighting is especially appealing.
LEDs placed across the interior throw gentle light across the cabin at night adding a sense of calm during a journey.
The LEDs’ brightness can be adjusted: occupants can choose from seven different theatre light modes to “create your desired ambience”.
(One observation from a rear-seat passenger on a longish journey was that headroom might be an issue for some.)
The V40 R-Design comes as standard with City Safety and the world’s first pedestrian airbag.
Safety features have resulted in the V40 having the highest overall score in Euro NCAP’s tests and the fitment of City Safety as standard has resulted in the car benefiting from lower insurance ratings.
And for those motorists among you who are environmentally minded, there’s more good news.
Volvo’s three-way catalytic converter with lambda sensor ensures the V40 R-Design is among the cleanest in its class. The V40 R-Design D2 emits just 94g/km of CO2 (fitted with 205/50 R17 tyres).
Test car: V40 T5 R-Design Lux Nav
• On-the-road price (including options): £38,455
• Options include: Driver Support Pack, —£1,900, Sunroof — £1,000, Lux Winter Pack — £350, Park Assist Pilot — £850
V40 R-Design highlights:
• Brand new sports-inspired derivative of the all-new V40
• Sports-coupé design but with full five-door practicality and optional sports chassis
• Class leading emissions from 94g/km CO2 for the D2
• Features the world’s first Pedestrian Airbag