Volvo V40 (2012 – 2019) Review

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Volvo V40 (2012 – 2019) At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
There’s still plenty to like about the V40 and it’s a more affordable option that its main rivals especially as a used car. Even today, it’s worthy of your consideration.

Comfortable and enjoyable to drive, a good (if rather confusing) range of engines, fabulous record on safety.

Trails competition on interior quality, some iffy ergonomics and dated interior design, boot smaller than in most rivals.

New prices start from £21,410
Insurance Groups are between 17–26
On average it achieves 79% of the official MPG figure

Judged in isolation, the Volvo V40 looks like an appealing car. It’s very pleasant to drive, refinement is impressive and the engines offer a good balance of performance and economy. It also offers decent practicality and impressive safety credentials. However, it’s outgunned in several areas by key rivals such as the Audi A3, BMW 1 Series and Mercedes A-Class, and feels a little dated by comparison. That said, the V40 replaces ruthless German efficiency with sophisticated Scandinavian style, so it’s likeable nonetheless.

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They say that if you’re standing still, then you’re actually going backwards, and few cars are a better illustration of this than the poor-old Volvo V40.

You have to feel sorry for the car, really, because in many ways, it did move things forward. As a replacement of both the S40 saloon and V50 estate, it had morphed into the premium hatchback that was proving so popular with buyers all over the UK, so it looked ready to take the fight directly to well-heeled rivals such as the Audi A3, BMW 1 Series and Mercedes A-Class. 

Based on the Ford Focus of the day, it had truly match-winning mechanicals that provided a brilliant blend of fun and comfort, even by premium car standards. The engine range provided an impressive mix of performance, economy and refinement, while the cabin provided a competitive amount of space and practicality compared with rivals.

The amount of standard luxury equipment was also competitive, while the amount of standard safety kit was out-of-this-world. This was the first car of its type to include automatic emergency braking as standard across the range, paving the way for this important safety feature to become so widespread in today’s modern cars, something for which Volvo should be applauded.

However, there were one or two key areas in which the V40 didn’t move the game on enough, and they would prove to be costly.

The first of them was interior design. The dashboard layout was very similar to that in the cars that the V40 replaced, and this was a problem. For starters, that layout wasn’t all that good to begin with, and it meant that ergonomically, the V40 wasn’t as strong as it should’ve been.

It also meant that, visually, the design looked rather old-school even when it was brand-spanking new, and against the super-desirable rivals that the V40 was up against, it simply didn’t have enough wow-factor, especially in comparison to the recently replaced BMW 1 Series. 

Things quickly got worse. Not long after the V40’s arrival, new versions of both the Audi A3 and Mercedes A-Class came along, both with vastly improved interior quality, more gadgets, and much more wow-factor as a result. Compared with these, the V40’s interior was nowhere for desirability.

Ask Honest John

Dealer lied about number of owners and service history on my car. What are my rights?
"I recently bought a Volvo V40 from a garage. It was advertised as having one former keeper, yet so far I have found three - the first being a leasing company. It also came with seven service stamps and a fresh MoT with no advisories. Within a month, the breaks failed, tyres were illegal and after a safety check with local Volvo dealer - I was told it hadn't been serviced since 2016 and gearbox was faulty. I managed to locate one owner who sold it to webuyanycar, who put into auction and then was bought by the garage who sold it to me. I have been passed from pillar to post since and can't ask about service history as the first four stamps are by companies who've gone bust. I would really appreciate any help you can give me on finding out if can prove this service history is false. The last two services were done by service centres, yet the MoTs were done by different centres in different towns. Some of the stamps also look like they've been written by the same person."
Reject the car and demand a full refund. It is clearly not as described and the dealer has misled you on its condition. I would also report the dealer to Trading Standards, as this is very shoddy service. For your legal rights, see: https://www.honestjohn.co.uk/how-to-reject-a-car-your-consumer-rights
Answered by Dan Powell
Is tyre sealant effective for punctures or should I buy a spare wheel?
"I have just bought a new Volvo V40 which has not been supplied with a spare wheel, do you recommend sealant for a repair or buying a spare?"
Buy a space saver spare kit. Post-puncture sealants are almost completely useless. Here's where you can buy one: http://bit.ly/2ZH4C1k
Answered by Honest John
Can I claim against Volvo because the Active High Beam in my V40 just dips the lights?
"I paid £700 for a package which included 'Active High Beam' on my Volvo V40 because I drive through the countryside at night. The £700 option package states that 'it stays on high beam all the time to optimise your vision without dazzling other road users.' But it doesn't. It just automatically dips the headlights and I hit a deer that I would have spotted if they did stay on high beam when a car came the other way. I now have to pay an insurance excess on my four week old car and a possible increase in future premiums despite having protected no claims. I believe that I have a claim against Volvo and I also have the dashcam evidence that the lights simply 'dip'."
Active high beam dips when the sensors spot the lights of an oncoming car. There is no other way the system could work. So your problem was the coincidence of the car coming the other way when the deer emerged. You have no basis for a claim against Volvo.
Answered by Honest John
The gearbox on my Volvo V40 has failed - is this common?
"I own a 2014 Volvo V40. I've had it since new and just reached 49,000 miles. Last week, I began hearing an unwelcome noise whilst driving and left the car with my mechanic to locate the source of the noise. Turns out the gearbox has crapped itself. Is this common?"
It probably has a Ford 1.6 TDCi engine and transmission. The clutches and DMFs on these have been failing like mad because the clutch slave cylinder leaks. It's a fundamental flaw with the car. Should be fixed by the supplying dealer FoC.
Answered by Honest John

What does a Volvo V40 (2012 – 2019) cost?