Volvo’s Having a Moment

The car I was asked to review this month is the Volvo V40 Cross Country, courtesy of Mill Volvo Newcastle.

My first car was a Volvo 340. It obviously wasn’t the trendiest car for a young driver, but one of the safest around. I think it was a 1.7-litre engine and it wasn’t the best for fuel consumption, partly due to the boxy un-aerodynamic shape. When I owned the car, it never skipped a beat and was totally reliable, whatever the weather. I personally think Volvo’s street-cred went through the roof when the police started using the T5 as patrol cars.

An area where Volvo particularly excels is with safety equipment, technology and comfortable seats. Their designers not only designed the seat belt, but they also designed the crumple zone and introduced laminated windscreens. The V40 has been a phenomenal sales success for Volvo and it’s really easy to see why. The cute looking car is something a little bit different to the run of the mill Focus, Astra and Golf. Being a Volvo, not only is the design quirky to look at, it’s also cool and funky inside too.

Talking about quirky styling, it brings me on to the car I had the pleasure of driving recently. The V40 Cross Country looks like a V40 that has been working out at the gym. The car has a higher ride height, along with chunkier bumpers, sporty looking silver roof rails and integrated LED lights. Despite looking like a serious off roader, the car is only front wheel drive. A four wheel drive version is available in the range, topping 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine. I’m sure the front wheel drive car will get its owners out of most trouble in bad weather!

The Cross Country carries a £1,000 premium over the V40. Anyone looking for a higher driving position and funky looking styling should look no further. The car’s main competition is likely to be the Nissan Qashqai, Skoda Yeti, Audi Q3 and the BMW X1. The car I drove was priced at just under £25,000, which is on par with its competitors, but its trump card has to be its amazing fuel economy.

The car I drove was the D2, which is fitted with a 1.6-litre diesel engine. it has 115bhp, which helps it get to 115mph and to 62mph in 11.2 seconds. Driving along Scotswood Road, you can’t help but see the amazing fuel economy claims emblazed on the cars at the garage. I noticed the Cross Country’s fuel economy figure of 74mpg and 99g/km CO2 emissions. As I normally have quite a heavy right foot, I remember thinking it was going to be totally unachievable. So, as I set off, I decided to put the computer readout onto fuel economy and was amazed to see the car was returning well over 60mpg – excellent, considering the car is an automatic. I can honestly say that I have never seen these consumption figures with my rather spirited driving style.

Once you get inside, you are greeted with a large steering wheel and indicator and wiper storks that wouldn’t look out of place in a Volvo lorry. That said, the car felt very well put together – very solid and a safe place to be. It also has a panoramic roof which, again, helped make the car feel a lot more light and airy.

Some of the minor controls were a bit confusing, especially when on the move, and I am sure they could be simplified. My favourite bit of the dashboard had to be the electronic speedometer and rev counter. You could change the dials to suit your driving style. The next option was elegance, which offers classy dials that give drivers all the vital information they need. The final option was Eco mode, which focuses entirely on fuel economy and driving economically.

The car’s 335-litre boot space equates to a couple of large suitcases and a couple of holdalls. The boot also has some storage space underneath the boot floor.

After driving this vehicle, I remembered why I loved my first car and thankfully this version was way more fuel-efficient than my original Volvo.

Anyone looking to buy a great looking and practical car really needs to head down to Mill Volvo – now really is the time to buy a Volvo!