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Friday, 23 February 2018
FOR those motorists where size matters, the small saloon or hatchback could prove a tad, well, small.
So what is the alternative if you prefer a smaller car above all other types of vehicle but would like to join the burgeoning SUV (sport utility vehicle) brigade?
Fans of the excellent “baby” Volvo I have been driving this week — a Volvo V40 T3 R-Design, the smallest car in the Swedish car maker’s model range — will not have to wait long.
They can look forward to the arrival of Volvo’s first ever small premium SUV — the XC40 — that has already been ordered in its thousands.
First customers can expect to take delivery of their new XC40 early in 2018.
With the XC40, Volvo says it has entered the “fastest-growing segment in the automotive industry”.
Which is interesting because it demonstrates that although there has been a resurgence of larger SUVs and medium-size crossover vehicles, a lot of drivers still prefer a smaller car, albeit with the SUV option.
I have driven quite a few versions of the Volvo V40 over the past years since it first appeared on the scene in 2012.
One of the attractions of this car has always been that, yes, it was a Volvo, with all those familiar attributes, and that it was a small car.
Not that small, actually, but as I said it was the smallest Volvo you could get. Then when the V40 R-Design came along — a more sophisticated version, if you like — this proved to be the icing on the cake.
The V40 R-Design has received special attention from Volvo’s chassis engineering team, ensuring the car has optimum handling, steering feel, plus agility and ride comfort. And it shows.
The R-Design can also be specified with the Sports Chassis to give a more sports-oriented ride to go with its looks.
Safety first with all Volvos is also key with the V40 R-Design — standard features include City Safety and the world’s first pedestrian airbag.
Safety features have resulted in the V40 achieving the highest overall score in testing by the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP). Fitting City Safety as standard has resulted in the car benefiting from lower insurance ratings.
Volvo’s time-honoured reputation for environmentally friendly motoring, such as the invention of the three-way catalytic converter, ensures the V40 R-Design is amongst the cleanest in its class.
The V40 R-Design T3 Manual I have been driving — which has great sporty performance — nevertheless emits just 127g/km of CO2. Acceleration is quick, achieving 60mph in 7.8 seconds, and top speed for the V40 R-Design T3 Manual is 130mph.
Actually what you are looking at with this sportier version is bonus performance without compromising many of the basic achievements of the design of the V40 — a small car with a definite sporty air. The V40 R-Design is fitted with Volvo’s SENSUS infotainment system, designed to offer outstanding connectivity, security and the ability to personalise it. As part of SENSUS, the V40 R-Design comes as standard with Bluetooth music streaming and hands-free mobile connectivity. The new seats have been fitted with additional bolster support but continue to offer occupant comfort — one of Volvo’s trademarks.
One of the things I admire about Volvo is the car maker’s deliberate consideration for everyone in the car, not just the driver and front seat passenger.
So here the rear seats offer the same level of comfort with two sculptured seating positions. However, there is room for three — all with three-point safety belts.
Other features of the V40
R-Design, fitted as standard, include the rimless rear view mirror and illuminated gear knob.
It may well be that with the advent of Volvo’s coming small SUV you can enjoy the best of both worlds — the V40 R-Design I have been driving proves that for its many fans the smaller car in all its forms is here to stay.
Volvo V40 T3 R-Design Nav Plus
• Model as tested, including options, price: £29,555
• Intellisafe Pro (£1,900) comprises collision warning with full auto brake, pedestrian and cyclist detection, adaptive cruise control, distance alert, lane keeping aid, driver alert control, active high beam, road sign information display, blind spot information with cross traffic alert
• Winter Pack (£575) comprises heated front seats, heated front windscreen, headlight cleaning system, rain sensor and automatic windscreen wiper activation
Words: Nigel Wigmore
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