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Driving Impression: Volvo V40 Cross Country

11 August 2016

If product brochures were CVs, the Volvo V40 Cross Country would be an accredited nanny with a degree in safety and an inherent love for the outdoors. So, on paper, its credentials are not much to get excited about, in the same way, that lunch with an accountant doesn’t really offer any potential conversational thrills.

On the car’s local launch in Cape Town, we learned that the facelifted V40 Cross Country is not exactly what you would expect from a Volvo.

We know very well to not judge a book by its cover, but we were still curious what this premium hatchback, complete with adventure apparel, offers individual families looking to explore the roads less travelled.

It gets a nod for adventure, as it’s capable of negotiating rather bad gravel roads, thanks to its well-balanced suspension, which is also able to comfortably tear up the blacktop. It also boasts a ground clearance of 145mm, but its trump card is the availability of all-wheel drive on the range-topping T5 derivative.

The carmaker’s new generation 2.0-litre Drive-E engines power the entire line-up of Cross Country models. Four engine derivatives trickle down to the heart of the V40 CC range with the refined turbodiesel engines powering the D3 and D4 models. Two peppy petrol turbo-breather engines power the T4 and T5.

Power outputs don’t disappoint with the D3 and D4 diesel duo grinding out 110kW and 140kW respectively, while there are also enough torques to restart a small economy at 320Nm and 400Nm. The T4 and T5 petrol derivatives, produces 140kW and 180kW, while torque is rated at 300Nm and 350Nm. To offer some perspective on these seemingly routine figures, the chunkier T5 derivative churns out 18kW more than a Volkswagen Golf GTI.

Originally launched here in 2012, the Volvo V40 was the safest-ever car on SA roads. Now, four years down the line, this Volvo philosophy has not changed as much as it was enhanced with the carmaker’s aim of having no road fatalities in a new Volvo by the year 2020.

All V40 CC models come with a comprehensive list of standard safety features and acronyms. Electronic nannies include; Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake-Assist (BAS) and Hill-Start Assist (HSA). Standard safety features across the range include; Traction and Stability Control, Front Whiplash Protection, Tyre Pressure Monitoring and seven airbags.

A ‘Driver Support Pack’ is also available for R32 500, which includes; Blind Spot Information, Cross Traffic Alert, Active High Beam, Lane Keeping Aid, Driver Alert, Adaptive Cruise Control, Pedestrian Detection and a Reverse Camera.

Changes on the V40 CC are mostly skin-deep with a greater emphasis on enhancing the look and feel of the car than changing it.

On the outside, the adventure model still features its signature black bumper cladding and roof rails, while the Volvo iron mark has a more prominent presence on the grille. Closely aligning the V40 with the latest models from the brand, the prominent ‘Thor’s Hammer’ LED daytime running lights also features on premium models. Cross Country models are available with a choice of shapely wheel designs. The choices include the 18-inch Metallah wheel or the larger 19-inch Ariah choice.

The inside of the V40 features quality touches that is a cut above the rest, while interior enhancements add a smidge of contemporary style. The floating décor-panel still features centre-stage inside the cabin. It can be refreshed with a series of modern designs to spruce things up, including a ‘Modern Wood’ effect that’s exclusively available on the CC. The interior can be personalised even further with the City Weave effect that combines a Blond and Charcoal interior colour scheme with ‘tweed-like fabrics’. This is also matched to a two-tone steering wheel.

On the launch route around the twisty and snaking roads of Cape Town, both the T5 and D3 Cross Country derivatives made a lasting impression. The 2.0-litre petrol engine fitted to the T5 proved to be an absolute cracker as it has the ability to leap forward with eagerness uncharacteristic of the Swedish marque. Despite the forced induction nature of this engine, it immediately responded to acceleration inputs with a swift rise of the digital needle thanks to the well-sorted 8-speed Geartronic gearbox.

While the D3 derivative is less performance and more sensibility orientated, it’s not afraid to entertain the occasional bit of spirited driving. Once on the move, the 320Nm of torque provides more than enough oomph. The balance between economy and performance is the most impressive aspect of this model, though.

The Volvo V40 CC checks most boxes. It looks good from every angle and it’s also one of the safest cars on the road. It’s also got an elegant side, but not in your typical wood panelling kind of way.

This car is a wunderkind in most respects, but it also conducts itself clinically, doing everything you expect, every time you expect it, with silicone chipboards constantly calculating the best course of action for the binary ones and zeros.

It is quite ironic then, that the greatest aspects of this car are also what makes it feel emotionally detached from the driver’s seat. The technological workings underneath the metal skin are remarkable, but, driving the V40 CC enthusiastically, the experience feels subdued thanks to a complete lack of drama.


V40 Cross Country D3 6-speed Geartronic –                        R452 700

V40 Cross Country D4 8-speed Geartronic –                        R469 300

V40 Cross Country T4 6-speed manual –                               R412 500

V40 Cross Country T4 6-speed Geartronic –                         R432 600

V40 Cross Country T5 AWD 8-speed Geartronic –               R504 400


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