A mi­nor facelift re­minds us just how much class Volvo’s small­est Cross Coun­try pos­sesses

Car (South Africa) - - TEST -

TAKE an ex­ist­ing ve­hi­cle. Add a dash of ex­tra ride height, a pinch of pro­tec­tive body cladding and a pair of shiny roof rails. Voila! You’re now look­ing at a life­style ve­hi­cle.

This, then, is the up­dated V40 Cross Coun­try, es­sen­tially a raised ver­sion of the brand’s C-seg­ment premium hatch­back. While its ap­pear­ance here is thanks to lit­tle more than a mi­nor facelift, its very ex­is­tence has per­haps never been more rel­e­vant, what with the fas­ci­na­tion of today’s con­sumer with rugged, off-road-ready looks.

Like the stan­dard V40, mod­els bear­ing the Cross Coun­try badge re­cently gained a hand­ful of mid­cy­cle styling up­dates, in­clud­ing fresh treat­ment for the grille, new al­loy de­signs and the op­tion of the Swedish brand’s eye­catch­ing Thor’s Ham­mer light­ing sig­na­ture. In­side, the changes are harder to spot, un­less you opt for the new tweed-like up­hol­stery, City Weave.

The T4 Mo­men­tum model un­der scru­tiny here, though, boasts leather as stan­dard, along with the sort of fea­tures – from a plush, elec­tri­cally ad­justable driver’s seat to rear parking sen­sors – that its Ger­man ri­vals of­ten con­sign to the op­tions list.

The V40 Cross Coun­try rides with a cer­tain litheness (even on op­tional 18-inch wheels) and is pleas­ingly re­fined at both city speeds and out on the high­way, while its six-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion swaps cogs smoothly and in­tu­itively. The 140 kw 2,0-litre, Drive-e tur­bocharged petrol mill in the T4, al­though car­ried over from the pre-facelift range, is per­haps the highlight of the pack­age.

With 300 N.m on tap across the use­fully broad range be­tween 1 300 and 4 000 r/min, the front-wheel-drive cross hatch sees off the sprint to 100 km/h in 8,34 sec­onds. Hand­ily, that con­sid­er­able shove doesn’t come at the ex­pense of ef­fi­ciency, with

the T4 re­turn­ing a fig­ure of 7,0 L/100 km on our fuel route.

There are a few short­com­ings to con­sider with the V40, how­ever. The age­ing fa­cia, for in­stance, is some­what but­ton-heavy and thus not the eas­i­est to use on the go. The stop-start sys­tem, mean­while, is of­ten over-ea­ger, cut­ting the engine even if the brake pedal is not fully de­pressed. And, as with the stan­dard V40, nei­ther lug­gage (which we mea­sured at 216 litres), nor rear-pas­sen­ger space, is quite on par with that of the com­pe­ti­tion.


While the facelift changes lit­tle, it does serve as a re­minder that the classy V40 Cross Coun­try de­serves more than a mere pass­ing glance from those in the mar­ket for a premium hatch­back with a life­style slant. It’s a com­fort­able, ex­ceed­ingly well-man­nered thing that, while by no means cheap, of­fers a cer­tain sense of value cour­tesy of its ex­ten­sive stan­dard fea­tures list.

And, thanks to cur­rent con­sumer tastes, it’s more rel­e­vant to lo­cal buy­ers than ever.

1 The cen­tre stack is pos­i­tively rid­dled with but­tons. 2 Rear legroom is not quite as gen­er­ous as that of class-lead­ers. 3 Drop­ping the rear bench boosts util­ity space to 872 litres. 4 Added ride height lends the Cross Coun­try some gravel-road abil­ity.

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