Any new challenger in Britain's C-segment to take on the uber-chic premium brand Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series is to be welcomed, particularly if it clearly gives them a run for their money.
And the new Volvo V40 does just that when you look at the Germans' options lists and compare them to the standard fayre in the Swedish newcomer.
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Carefully packaged after discussions with fleet users and resale value crunchers, the Volvo V40 must highly score with user-choosers who value its telephony and entertainment packages, let alone the highly advanced safety systems and know these will enhance prices when it comes to selling on. The situation will also improve the deal for private buyers.
Additional equipment packs are put together to reflect the choices of customers and will also make it much easier for buyers to understand what they are getting.
Cabin and practicality
But what do you get when you slip behind the wheel of the new V40? It is fairly closely comparable to the two models it replaces and its German rivals in terms of size.
It sits firmly in the C-segment and being a five-door will have maximum appeal from the outset and a boot which opens from knee-height to reveal a space offering a minimum of 335-litres up to a maximum 1,032-litres.
The sweeping roofline of the V40 does slightly impede entry to the five-seat interior and those in the back will find legroom is tight, but the front pair have a lot of room.
The front seats are very well shaped and while lacking deep cushions they give good support, but I was sorry to see no power availability on the front passenger seat and the recline rotary is not easy to use.
Oddments room and temperature controls are good, the sound system very refined. Major switches are intuitive, the secondary ones slightly confusing by their central grouping.
I liked the Volvo V40 steering and braking which gave good feedback but also worked very well at their respective jobs, but the parking brake was set up for left hand drive. Slick six-speed manual gearboxes on the three models we drove will please any driver.
The anticipated best selling D2 SE returned 50mpg on some demanding North Wales roads, where the ride was occasionally bumpy and road noise was ever-present. Despite its lack of absolute power, the 1.6-litre 115hp did a good job and was willing to perform when pressed.
Even better at pulling away from rest or when overtaking was the 2.0-litre, 177hp D4 Lux turbodiesel with its 400Nm of torque from 1,750rpm, effectively half as much power again as the smaller diesel at the same engine speed.
Not only did it provide greater useable power but also sounded less stressed and was distinctly smoother in delivering the get up and go when required. Ride and handling also felt better with this model. We recorded about 40mpg but it was a better drive nevertheless.
We recorded 33.6mpg with the final model of our trio, the 180hp 1.6 petrol T4, the engine is made in Ford Bridgend Engine Plant. This packs a useful 240Nm from 1,600rpm and is probably the most driveable of all even if it lacks the absolute pulling power of the larger diesel.
Volvo V40 D2 SE 5-Door Hatchback (Best selling model)
Transverse, 1560cc, 4-cylinder, 8V, 115hp (113bhp), turbodiesel, 270Nm (199lb ft) from 1,750rpm, six-speed manual.
118mph, 0-60mph 11.7sec, 78.5mpg combined cycle (50mpg on test), CO2 94g/km, VED road tax £0, BIK company car tax 13%.
335 to 1,032 litres.
Powertrain with low emissions leading to low taxes, intuitive major controls, supportive seats, composed handling, clever use of boot space, stylish rear end.
Engine and road noise intrusion, manual driver seat controls, shortage of rear seat legroom, low headroom entry for rear seat passengers, avoid optional large 18-inch wheels.