AN­TI­DOTE TO AUS­TER­ITY

The facelifted V40 might be Volvo’s lit­tlest car, but in terms of safety and lux­ury, it trades blows in the di­vi­sion above

Car (South Africa) - - DRIVE - VOLVO V40 & V40 CROSS COUN­TRY PRICES: ETA: BY: WE ARE HERE

THE spec­i­fi­ca­tion sheet for even the en­try-level Volvo V40 T3 Ki­netic would make an aus­tere A3, 1 Se­ries and A-class blush. In­cluded in the tally is an auto-dim­ming rear-view mir­ror, an up­graded sound sys­tem with six loud­speak­ers, cli­mate con­trol and heated mir­rors. Up­grade to the next spec tier, Mo­men­tum, and you net a power-ad­justable driver’s seat, cruise con­trol, rain and light sen­sors, park as­sist and leather trim through­out. And that’s only the sec­ond of four trim lev­els that cul­mi­nate in In­scrip­tion and R-de­sign. But the most im­por­tant point to note is that, model for model, the Volvo is more pow­er­ful – thank the Drive-e pow­er­trains – fru­gal and cheaper than ev­ery sin­gle one of its pre­mium ri­vals (not to men­tion that it also asks rel­e­vant ques­tions about Volk­swa­gen’s bullish pric­ing strat­egy with the Golf). There must be chinks in its ar­mour, and I’m in Cape Town’s con­gested CBD amid a tor­ren­tial mid­win­ter rain spell to try and un­earth them…

Jump­ing be­hind the wheel of a V40 T4 In­scrip­tion Geartronic (R442 400) to nav­i­gate the Mother City’s nar­row side streets and sweep­ing routes that run down to the At­lantic Se­aboard, I’m im­me­di­ately ap­pre­cia­tive of the sump­tu­ously com­fort­able front seats (Volvo’s seat de­sign­ers are whizz kids in the art of the chair), strong cli­mate-con­trol sys­tem and crys­tal-clear sound qual­ity pro­duced by the au­dio sys­tem. No other car in this class pro­vokes such a feel­ing of in­stant com­fort and warmth, helped in this model by plush leather up­hol­stery in an am­ber hue.

The cock­pit changes to­tal new trims – a tweed-like tex­tile called City Weave is a sur­pris­ingly cool op­tion – and al­tered soft-touch ma­te­ri­als, but the out­side has seen more ex­ten­sive re­vi­sion. Most mod­els now fea­ture the XC90/S90’S sig­na­ture Thor’s Ham­mer LED run­ning lamps (and a R1 650 op­tion on oth­ers), a new grille and Volvo iron mark, and box-fresh al­loy­wheel de­signs.

As part of a run­ning change in 2014, the V40 range re­ceived the Swedish car­maker’s Drive-e en­gine se­ries. The 2,0-litre pow­er­plants are cer­tainly im­pres­sive in the vast XC90, and this was my first ex­pe­ri­ence

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