Volvo V40 (2012): 30 second review

John Simister
Volvo V40
Volvo's first compact five-door in years looks good, is full of clever technology and levels with the class best as a driving machine.
We like:
Sleek, low-slung looks, high-quality cabin, great ride and handling, keen pace, clever displays and apps.
We don't like:
Modest rear seat space, over-lengthy seatbelt warning - plus snatchy, surge-prone progress in D4 diesel auto.
Should I buy one?
A compact five-door hatchback seems an obvious model to have in a range, but Volvo hasn't had one since the 440 of two decades ago. Instead its cars have often sat uncomfortably between rival manufacturers' size categories, which confused buyers.
Now there's a new V40 model, which replaces the old S40 saloon, the V50 estate and the C30 three-door semi-coupé. 'V' as ever stands for versatile, in this case an attribute achieved with the five-door body which nevertheless looks low, sleek and stylish.
The V40 looks good, feels great to drive in most versions, is very pleasant to be in and offers lots of useful technology. In many ways it's the most capable and complete car Volvo has yet made, and its price positioning (from £23,480) is justified.
It's tempting to suggest that as a driving machine it sits right at the top of the class, perhaps even shading Audi's surprisingly capable new A3. For a Volvo, that's praise indeed.
Rating
4/5
For the full review, point your web browser to the MSN Cars site at http://cars.uk.msn.com/
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