The V40 Cross Country is billed as the outdoorsy friend to the standard V40 – the one that’s a bit more rugged where it counts. What’s on the outside looks the part, what’s on the inside is stylish and comfortable, and what’s under the bonnet is at the top of its game; so it could turn out to be quite the prolific package. We find out if all is as good as it appears to be…
Design and Styling
The V40 is sensibly sized, with a length of 4.37m, just 1cm longer than a Ford Focus hatchback. It seems as if Volvo have tried to create a new semi-segment, which is partway between being a hatchback and a crossover. In reality, the Cross Country is a negligible 13mm taller than the standard V40. The other point to remember is that it’s front wheel drive, so you’re unlikely to traverse rainforests or scale mountains, but it does look like it can easily handle a few country dirt tracks and some pony fields.
The design language is typical Volvo, so is instantly recognisable. It’s not shouty and attention seeking but looks attractive. It’s available in a good selection of colours available, mostly metallics like the Flamenco Red on our test car.
One line that caught my eye on the options list was the £695 exterior styling kit. This compromises the aluminium finish sections including side scuff plates, rear skidplate and a rubberised section to protect the rear bumper from scuffing during boot loading. On the entry level trim, 16 inch alloys are standard, with our test car sporting the upgraded 18 inchers, but sizes upto 19 inch are available from the options list.
The interior is pleasingly more luxurious than I’d expected. When I saw the name Cross Country, I wasn’t exactly thinking hose down rubber but had imagined something a bit more hardwearing and outdoor friendly; something your friends and children could get a fair bit of mud on and you wouldn’t be too precious about it. The contrasting ‘charcoal/blond’ two tone leather fitted to the test car is likely to divide opinion, but whatever colour you opt for the seats pull off a clever illusion of being rather comfy despite somehow looking like they won’t be.
The V40 Cross Country has Volvo’s typical digital dashboard, so a degree of personalisation is possible for the driver. There are three main types of display to choose from, dependent on where your priorities lie: Eco, Elegance and Performance, and yes, I admit I did keep it in the latter of the three all week. It also has a speed limit sign displayed on screen but I found this can sometimes think it’s on a different road to the one you’re on, so don’t rely on it as using that as your excuse is unlikely to get you off a speeding ticket.
Behind the Wheel
It’s a keyless entry and go system, so getting started is easy. There’s a start/stop button on the dashboard that has a slot beneath that you can insert the key into if you wish but it’s not actually necessary. The engine is pretty quiet, although from its note it’s still distinctly a diesel. As you pull away, you can feel there’s tons of torque from the engine and you can really feel the front wheels tugging at the tarmac.
The gear changes are smooth and relaxed but there’s a lot of travel on the clutch pedal, so you have to sit a fair way back to avoid riding the pedal slightly, which in turn means adjusting the steering wheel but this makes for quite a casual driving position that should prove comfortable even over longer journeys.
Our test car comes with a number of option packs, one of which is entitled the Xenium Pack. I have no idea why it’s called that, but it’s pretty good. For £2,000 you get powered driver and passenger seats, fixed panoramic sunroof, park assist pilot and the rear parking camera. On some other marques you could end up paying nearly £2,000 for either of the first two items on their own. The huge panoramic glass roof, which has a motorised blind to cover it over if you wish to, floods both the front and rear of the cabin with light.
Engine, Gearbox and Performance
Up front, you’ll find a 2-litre diesel version of Volvo’s new D4 engine, launched at the start of 2014 and gradually filtering down through the model range. Power output is a very respectable 190bhp with 400Nm of torque, and will take the V40 Cross Country to a top speed of 130mph with a 7.7 second 0-62mph time. We’re testing the six speed manual gearbox, but a very proficient and smooth changing Geartronic auto box is also available, but it does attract a premium of £1,550.
We tested the D4 engine in a couple of the early models to receive it in the Peak District back in January and were thoroughly impressed with its combination of power, torque and fuel efficiency. You can find out more about the D4 engine launch here.
A 1.6-litre petrol engine is also available, known as the T4 rather than the D4. Surprisingly, 0-62mph times are identical, but as you’d expect, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are still respectable but a lot higher than their diesel counterpart.
Considering it is billed as a car for those of an active lifestyle disposition, boot space is not huge at 335 litres and considering it has fairly chunky hips, it’s not that wide for loading in non-squishy items. To give this some perspective, standard bootspace in a VW Golf hatchback is 380 litres.
Having said this, it is very quick and simple to drop the rear seats, which will more than triple luggage capacity to a more respectable 1,032 litres.
Suspension and Steering
The adjustable steering force is an optional extra that costs just £100 but having it means you can easily spin the wheel with one hand when manoeuvring, so parking is no big deal. However, if you’re really not a fan of the reverse park, then you’re bound to be interested in Volvo’s party piece that comes as part of the Xenium Pack: Park Assist Pilot. It’s not just a gimmick though, it does actually work… When you reach a section of road you want to park in, simply press a button on the centre console and the car’s system will start to scan parking spaces until it finds one big enough. When it does, it will invite you to stop and place the car in reverse. Then simply apply a dab of gas and the wheel will spin by itself and park in the space.
Safety and Security
This is a place where Volvo excels and other manufacturers could learn a thing or two, plus there’s a real solidity to the overall feel of the car, one that you’d feel comfortable carrying your most precious human assets within. The comprehensive Driver Support Pack is a £1,900 option that has a whole raft of functions to ensure the protection of those on the inside and those on the outside too, be they occupiers of other vehicles, pedestrians or cyclists, including collision warning with automatic braking, blind spot warnings, adaptive cruise control with distance alert, lane keeping guide, driver alertness controls and pedestrian and cyclist detection.
Prices, Equipment and Options
At this price range there are myriad choices of new cars, so Volvo is aware that it needs to be on it’s A-game to make buyers choose Swedish over German. In the spec that we’re testing it in including options, it’d set you back £37,440, which is a premium of over £9,000 on top of the base price D4 Lux Nav. The V40 Cross Country range does however start at just £23,320 if you opt for the older D2 engine with entry level SE trim.
The Nav models of the V40 Cross Country include Volvo’s Sensus Connect system with a 7 inch colour screen, DVD player and DAB digital radio, Bluetooth and internet connectivity (mobile data plan required for internet connection) and sat nav with full European mapping, for which lifetime map updates are free of charge.
Cost of Ownership
The initial outlay is the part that’s likely to give your wallet a few sleepless nights. After that you can relax as you should be quids in, thanks primarily to the efficiency of the D4 engine, and because of that the low road tax banding, but also the insurance grouping is favourable as well, being in group 24 out of 50. Fuel consumption on the combined cycle is pegged at 70.6 mpg with CO2 emissions of 104 g/km, meaning you’ll only be paying a paltry £20 a year in road tax.
It’s a good looking, well built car that will likely give tens of thousands of miles of trouble free and efficient motoring. My biggest concern would be the significant initial outlay to get the car on my driveway, but depending on the sort of mileage you’re likely to do, a lot of this cost will be negated just by the savings in fuel costs.
It looks the part but is not all that much of an evolution from the standard V40, and for a outdoorsy car the diminutive luggage space and narrow loading width will restrict what you can carry without having to resort to dropping the back seats all the time. It does make me wonder if people will consider the £1,000 premium for the Cross Country over the standard V40 to be good enough value to make them switch.