The Freelander heads to Eastnor for a real test of its off-road ability
Volvo V40 D2 Cross Country review (2013 onwards)
Model: Volvo V40 D2 Cross Country
Bodystyle: five-door hatch
Engine: 1.6D turbodiesel
Transmission: six-speed manual
Date of test: August 2013
What is it?
We tried the Volvo V40 for the first time and we liked it. The upmarket hatchback felt like a return to form for the off-beat, safety obsessed Swedes. Better than that, it felt like a car you genuinely could choose ahead of the German competition - not while drunk or locked in a 100 degree IKEA sauna by your local Volvo dealer, on merit.
Volvo has a winner on its hands in the shape of the V40 but is it now starting to push its luck? Here we’re examining the V40 Cross Country and if we didn’t know better we’d think it looked like a classic soft-roader makeover - high on macho body cladding, low on off-road ability. We took delivery of the entry-level D2 diesel version and went in search of the truth.
Where does it fit?
For £1,000 above the price of a standard Volvo V40, customers can opt for the Volvo V40 Cross Country. Unless you go to the top of the range and pick the hot T5 version with its 254hp 5-cylinder engine, the Cross Country won’t have all-wheel-drive. What it will have is 40mm of extra ride height and a well-judged styling job consisting of chunkier bumpers, silver roof rails and side sills. All things considered, it looks pretty good.
Volvo is hoping that its modifications to the V40 can give it a rival to the likes of Nissan’s Qashqai and Skoda’s Yeti, or even Audi’s Q3 and BMW’s X1, on the cheap. That’s largely what it does.
There’s no shame in the lack of 4x4 mechanicals with buyers in this class increasingly shunning all-wheel-drive traction in favour of front-wheel-drive price and economy savings. That being the case, the D2 diesel V40 Cross Country should be well in tune with the market, offering 74mpg combined cycle economy for under £23,000.
Is it for you?
There’s no extra travel in the raised suspension
So you don’t get any actual increase in off-road prowess with the V40 Cross Country but that needn’t harm its chances. There are plenty of compact SUVs and crossovers that never turn a wheel in the rough-stuff; it’s all about the look and, at a push, the elevated driving position. If you’re a fan of the off-roader image but aren’t bothered about actually living up to it, this beefed-up V40 might be ideal.
What does it do well?
As you’d imagine, the V40 Cross Country offers up very similar road manners to the standard car. There’s no extra travel in the raised suspension, helping the CC corner with similar composure and ride comfortably too, the V40 flowing easily over good surfaces and only getting jingly when the road roughens up.
There’s a lot to like about Volvo’s 1.6D diesel, the one fitted to this 115hp D2 model. Its strengths lie more in the fuel economy department than the performance one but you don’t find yourself longing for more shove or frantically grabbing for a lower gear. It’s more than adequate in most situations and keeps the noise down too - once it's warmed up. Safety provision is excellent but what else would you expect from Volvo?
What doesn’t it do well?
The slightly higher centre of gravity on the V40 Cross Country produces more body roll in corners despite the inclusion of chunkier anti-roll bars and the suspension seems to make more noise over bigger bumps than the standard car. We’re talking about slight differences though.
Other than that, the issues we have with the CC are those of the wider V40 range. The manual gearbox could be slicker in its action, thick C-pillars hamper rear visibility when parking and the boot opening is narrow.
What's it like to live with?
The extra ride height on the V40 Cross Country makes the car fractionally easier to get into and gives a slightly taller driving position but the general feel is very much that of a standard hatchback rather than a crossover 4x4.
Volvo’s interiors are distinctive and well assembled
Volvo’s interiors are distinctive and well assembled these days with the V40’s wide, comfortable seats worthy of special praise. The minor controls take some working out, particularly the cluster of buttons at the heart of the centre console, but the instruments and the graphics on the infotainment screen are both clear and attractive.
Buyers wondering if a car of the V40 Cross Country’s size can work as family transport should be impressed by the generous rear legroom, although headroom is tighter and the rising window line restricts light somewhat. Out at the back the 335-litre boot isn’t huge and the narrow tailgate makes loading large items tricky. At least the neat split-folding rear seat adds some extra practicality.
How green is it?
The 74mpg fuel economy and 99g/km emissions will be a major draw for the V40 Cross Country. The figures are slightly down on the 78mpg and 94g/km of the standard D2 but with emissions still under the 100g/km barrier that shouldn’t be a major concern.
Would we buy it?
The basic appeal of the V40 Cross Country is the same as that of the standard V40. The slightly taller driving position and beefed-up looks are all well and good but it’s the essential style and comfort of the V40, along with its top class safety provision and the economy of the D2 engine, that will really stand out.
That being the case, is the Cross Country add-on worth another £1,000 over the price of the ordinary hatchback? That’s the burning question and while we’d probably keep our money in our pockets, fans of the crossover look will see it as money well spent.
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