Crossed pur­poses

The V40 Cross Coun­try’s of­froad cre­den­tials are thin on the ground but Paul Acres finds there’s still more to this Volvo than just rugged good looks

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Kent Motors -

The V40 Cross Coun­try is Volvo’s at­tempt to grab a piece of the lu­cra­tive cross­over pie and, de­spite the fact that the rugged looks are all show and no go –a 40mm in­crease in ride height is the only me­chan­i­cal change over the stan­dard model – I’ve thor­oughly en­joyed my slice of the high(ish) life.

Visu­ally the Cross Coun­try is dif­fer­en­ti­ated from its other fam­ily mem­bers by sil­ver roof rails, a chunky front bumper with in­te­grated LED lights, metal side sills and a new rear bumper with the Cross Coun­try badge above the skid plate to cre­ate a more rugged im­age.

The only ver­sion of the V40 range with four-wheel-drive is the 250bhp 2.5-litre petrolengined T5 but, with so few peo­ple in­clined to take their small crossovers off-road it’s easy to see why Volvo took the de­ci­sion not to go down that route.

The Cross Coun­try is very well bolted to­gether, as you’d rightly ex­pect, and there’s a list of safety fea­tures as long as your arm. As with the ex­te­rior, the cabin is stan­dard Volvo fare, with the cen­tral float­ing con­sole with its taste­ful brushed metal look present and cor­rect.

The Lux model comes with an im­pres­sive list of equip­ment which in­cludes heated front seats, 17in al­loy wheels, ac­tive xenon headlights, au­to­matic wipers and cruise con­trol.

Room in the rear is a lit­tle re­stricted and taller pas­sen­gers could find longer stays in the back a tad un­com­fort­able. I think it would be fair to say that try­ing to squeeze three across the rear bench is far from ideal but that’s largely the case with many of the V40’s ri­vals in this class.

While the Cross Coun­try might not pos­sess the off-road prow­ess that its looks sug­gest, the changes to the sus­pen­sion do im­prove the V40’s ride over our roads. At low speeds the chas­sis is par­tic­u­larly for­giv­ing al­though there is the oc­ca­sional thump as the pace picks up.

Im­pres­sively there’s lit­tle trade-off dy­nam­i­cally with only the slight­est hint of body roll in cor­ners as the ac­cu­rate and nicely-weighted steer­ing feeds use­ful in­for­ma­tion back to your fin­ger­tips. The chas­sis is nicely bal­anced and there’s a con­fi­dence-in­spir­ing unity about the way the front and rear axles work to­gether to com­bat un­der­steer.

The en­gine, which pro­duces 148bhp and 236lbft of torque, is punchy and re­spon­sive and well suited to the Cross Coun­try’s per­son­al­ity. Re­fine­ment is de­cent and, even un­der hard ac­cel­er­a­tion, the en­gine re­mains un­ob­tru­sive while at cruis­ing speeds it be­comes barely au­di­ble.

What it all boils down to is a com­fort­able, ca­pa­ble and ac­com­mo­dat­ing drive. The beefed-up look costs about £1,000 over the stan­dard model and, if you bear in mind those mod­i­fi­ca­tions are largely cos­metic it might make that ad­di­tional out­lay ap­pear un­rea­son­able but when you fac­tor in the im­proved ride and han­dling that pre­mium sud­denly makes a lot more sense.

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