THE premium hatchback car sector has another formidable competitor and it is arguably the safest of them all for both the driver and pedestrians for it is the first car in the world to feature a pedestrian airbag to reduce the impact if one is involved in an accident with the car writes Bryan Longworth.
It is no great surprise that this underbonnet safety device is featured on a Volvo V40 for the Swedish company has a world wide reputation for their cars being very safe going back over 50 years to when they invented the seatbelt.
The pedestrian airbag is fitted up front on all models including the V40 I have just been testing which competes against premier hatchbacks such as the BMW 1 Series, Audi A3, Mercedes A-Class and the Volkswagen Golf.
But it is not just safety that makes the V40 such an outstanding car for it has an extremely distinctive body that contrasts sharply with those Volvos of old and their square brick-like shapes but it has numerous other features that make it such an impressive hatchback.
One that I really liked was the large digital speedometer right in front of the driver next to a panel which also showed the speed limit for every road the car was being driven along making the driver continiously aware of the speed situation.
The test car was the D4 SE Nav five door costing £25,045 with a two litre 177bhp five cylinder diesel engine and six speed manual gearbox with a top speed of 137mph and a zero to 60mph time of 8.2 seconds.
Volvo designers have done a great job with the styling of this model which looks good both front and rear especially at the back and is arguably better looking and more imaginative than the German rivals with their rather conservative shapes.
There is also a premium ambience inside the V40 with comfortable seats and user friendly controls but as I have mentioned earlier the most impressive feature is the panel containing the speedometer which also shows how far to go before the fuel tank is empty and a power meter.
I really enjoyed driving the V40 with the engine providing more than enough power for serious press on driving with road holding and steering also being very impressive although the ride was on the firm side especially on roads that were ready for some restoration after the winter.
The rear load area is easily accessed and is of a good size with another small storage area underneath but there is no spare wheel and just a tyre repair kit which I am not keen on and I would invest in a spare wheel if I was buying a V40.
The test car was shod with low profile tyres on smart alloy wheels but considerable care has to be taken especially when parking close to high kerbs not to catch the alloys otherwise they will need some repairs which could be quite expensive.
Volvo, now under Chinese ownership, has produced an outstanding appealing car with the V40 providing potential owners in this market sector with a very tempting alternative to those rivals from Germany.
My Verdict: A Swedish stunner.
Model: Volvo V40 D4 SE Nav.
Engine: 2.0-litre five cylinder diesel.
Output: 177bhp @ 3500rpm.
Transmission: Six speed manual.
Top speed: 137mph.
Acceleration: 0 to 60mph 8.2 seconds.
Fuel consumption: 65.7mpg combined.
CO2 emissions: 114g/km.
Price: £25,045 on the road.