Review: Volvo V40 (2012)
Very comfortable and refined with excellent ride. Smooth and economical engines. Relaxing to drive.
Steering too light. Interior feels dated. 2.0 litre Volvo diesel engines suffering EGR problems when run on cheap diesel.
Volvo V40 (2012): At A Glance
- New prices start from £21,410, brokers can source from £18,692
- Contract hire deals from £222.56 per month
- Insurance Groups are between 17–26
- On average it achieves 79% of the official MPG figure
Rivalling the Audi A3, BMW 1 Series and Mercedes-Benz A-Class, the Volvo V40 drives like a premium car, with good ride quality, strong performance and impressive refinement. But since its original launch in 2012, its interior has quickly dated and it no longer feels as up-to-date as its German rivals. It lags way behind more recent Volvo models too.
Even so, there are plenty of likeable traits. The engine range doesn't have a bad option - even the basic D2 and T2 provide decent performance - while the D3, D4 and T3 engines are great, with lots of in-gear fleixibility that makes motorway driving and country roads very easy.
Refinement and comfort are very good too. Ride quality is compliant even on uneven roads, yet body roll is kept at bay and handling is very predictable, with loads of grip through corners. Motorway cruising is a painless affair too, with little wind, road or engine noise making its way into the cabin.
Volvo has continually updated the V40 over the years, so standard equipment does include useful modern features like Bluetooth, auto emergency braking and DAB radio. There's also a package of advanced safety equipment, with road sign recognition, traffic jam assistance for auto transmissions, adaptive cuise control and blind spot monitoring included, among other gadgets.
Inside, the V40 is sturdily made and provides superb comfort, thanks to supportive seats. There's a decent level of back row space too - but the dashboard layout and infotainment screen looks dated and isn't as intuitive as in German rivals, while the boot has a surprisingly narrow opening and isn't all that spacious for a car aimed at families.
Those minor criticisms are compounded by the fact we know Volvo can do a whole lot better. It's S90, V90, XC60 and XC90 are all absolutely superb in every way that matters. Next to them the V40 feels old-fashioned - but even so it'd not bad - and if you can get a competetive deal there's enough to like.
What does a Volvo V40 (2012) cost?
Volvo V40 (2012): What's It Like Inside?
The V40 replaced both the Volvo S40 and V50 so despite the coupe-esque looks it needed to be practical and spacious too. It partly succeeded with plenty of space for the front two passengers, good stowage (including a cooled glovebox as standard) and a decent sized 335-litre boot.
However, while the boot is usefully wide and the rear seats fold flat, its German rivals all offer more luggage space. It's fairly tight for space in the back too and taller passengers will find their head brushing the roof lining. If you have anyone six-foot or plus driving, there's also very little foot or knee room behind them.
It's a far cry from more recent Volvos when it comes to quality and layout too. The XC60 and more recently the XC40 show Volvo really knows how to make a striking, classy and high quality cabin. But the V40 feels dated now, even if it is still impressively well-made.
Features such as the floating centre console, thick chrome trim and the 5-inch colour screen that comes as standard, all add to that impression that this is a quality product. There's also a neat transparent gear lever that's illuminated at night.
Instead of conventional dials the V40 gets a high-tech TFT instrument cluster. Essentially it's like having a screen rather than dials. It's a good system with a large digital speedo so you always know your exact speed. There are even various 'themes' available which change the colour of the display plus what information is on show. Other quality touches include the superbly comfortable seats, always a Volvo strong point.
The V40 also comes with Bluetooth as standard on all models which not only lets you make phone calls on the move but lets you stream music. It's very easy to set up on an iPhone and works really well. The interior also features ambient lighting, which can be switched through seven different modes, with red-to-blue lighting to suit the interior temperature.
Child seats that fit a Volvo V40 (2012)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Volvo V40 (2012) like to drive?
- Engines range from T2 Geartronic to T5 Cross Country AWD Automatic
- Readers report Real MPG to be between 26–73 mpg
The V40 impresses from behind the wheel. It's very comfortable with a smooth and relaxed ride and, even when fitted with larger wheels with lower profile tyres, it remains forgiving. The suspension of the V40 was developed on British B-roads and it shows.
Refinement is a real strong point and even at higher speeds there's minimal wind or engine noise, making this a great car for the motorway where it feels like a much larger car.
The handling is safe and composed so although the steering feels quite artificial and light, the V40 still corners well with good front end grip and limited body roll. It feels as stable and as safe as you expect a Volvo too.
It's not as involving to drive as a 1 Series but it's a good match for the Audi A3. It's further helped by a torque vectoring system that brakes the inner wheel in corners to aid handling.
It's efficient, in particular the D2 model. This is a 1.6-litre diesel that comes with a six-speed manual gearbox. It produces 115PS along with an impressive 270Nm of torque which means decent in-gear pulling power. It's not the quickest of engines, but once up to speed it will happily keep up with traffic and that torque means overtaking is pretty straightforward.
The other diesels are the D3 and D4, both initially 2.0-litre five-cylinder engines with 150PS and 177PS respectively. Later these were dropped and replaced by four cylinder engines, with the D4 geting more power at 190PS.
Two petrols were available at first, the T3 and T4 which are both 1.6-litre turbocharged petrols with 150PS and 180PS. A top of the range T5 arrived later with 245PS with an automatic gearbox as standard.
Safety has always been a big Volvo strength and the V40 continues this. It's packed with safety features as standard including an improved version of the clever City Safety system. This uses a laser which monitors traffic ahead of the vehicle and will automatically brake to avoid a collision or at least reduce the severity. It now works up to 31mph rather than 19mph previously and has been proven to reduce collisions by 20%.
The V40 gets a new pedestrian airbag which works between 12 and 31 mph. If the car detects contact with a pedestrian it releases the rear end of the bonnet and deploys an airbag which covers the area under the raised bonnet plus a third of the windscreen area and the lower part of the a-pillars. Other features include a Cross Traffic Alert radar system which helps you reverse out of a parking space and see traffic coming from the side plus an improved Blind Spot Information System (BLIS).
|D2||60–83 mpg||9.8–11.9 s||88–126 g/km|
|D2 Automatic||60–61 mpg||10.5 s||101–124 g/km|
|D2 Cross Country||59–76 mpg||9.9–11.9 s||96–99 g/km|
|D2 Cross Country Automatic||59–61 mpg||10.6 s||101 g/km|
|D2 Cross Country Geartronic||72 mpg||9.9 s||101 g/km|
|D2 Cross Country Powershift||69 mpg||12.1 s||108 g/km|
|D2 Geartronic||74 mpg||9.8 s||101 g/km|
|D2 Powershift||72 mpg||12.1 s||102 g/km|
|D3||60–74 mpg||7.9–9.6 s||99–114 g/km|
|D3 Automatic||59–63 mpg||8.4–8.6 s||104–132 g/km|
|D3 Cross Country||59–74 mpg||7.9–8.5 s||99 g/km|
|D3 Cross Country Automatic||59–60 mpg||8.5–8.7 s||105–127 g/km|
|D3 Cross Country Geartronic||71 mpg||7.9 s||105 g/km|
|D3 Geartronic||54–71 mpg||7.9–9.3 s||104–136 g/km|
|D4||66–74 mpg||7.0–8.6 s||99–114 g/km|
|D4 Automatic||67 mpg||7.2 s||109 g/km|
|D4 Cross Country||64–71 mpg||7.3–8.6 s||104–117 g/km|
|D4 Cross Country Automatic||66 mpg||7.5 s||112 g/km|
|D4 Cross Country Geartronic||54–66 mpg||7.1–8.3 s||112–137 g/km|
|D4 Geartronic||54–67 mpg||6.8–8.3 s||109–136 g/km|
|T2||46–53 mpg||9.2–10.4 s||124–142 g/km|
|T2 Automatic||49–50 mpg||9.8 s||129–133 g/km|
|T2 Geartronic||51 mpg||9.2 s||129 g/km|
|T3||46–53 mpg||7.8–8.9 s||124–143 g/km|
|T3 Automatic||48–50 mpg||8.3–8.5 s||118–136 g/km|
|T3 Cross Country||50 mpg||8.5 s||128 g/km|
|T3 Cross Country Automatic||48–50 mpg||8.5 s||131–138 g/km|
|T3 Geartronic||51 mpg||7.8 s||129 g/km|
|T4||51 mpg||7.7 s||129 g/km|
|T4 Cross Country||51 mpg||7.7 s||129 g/km|
|T4 Cross Country PowerShift||46 mpg||8.5 s||143 g/km|
|T4 PowerShift||46 mpg||8.5 s||143 g/km|
|T5 Automatic||48 mpg||6.4 s||137 g/km|
|T5 Cross Country AWD Automatic||44 mpg||6.1 s||149 g/km|
|T5 Cross Country AWD Geartronic||34–44 mpg||5.8–6.4 s||149–194 g/km|
|T5 Geartronic||35–48 mpg||6.0–6.1 s||137–189 g/km|
Real MPG average for a Volvo V40 (2012)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
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