If the Volvo V40 Cross Country has any deficiencies then a striking looking design is certainly not one of them. Clad in its off-road regalia the V40 Cross Country could be mistaken for a car that belongs in the latest Star Wars movie. On the planet Hoth.
The 1997 Volvo XC70 first introduced this niche with a raised ride-height, all wheel drive, go anywhere estate based derivatives with echoes to pseudo off road abilities. The V40 Cross Country follows suit, on the surface it’s built for the great outdoors, that raised ride height, front and rear underside skid plate and that tough looking body work mark this car out from the rest of the range.
Offered in four trim levels, SE, SE Nav, Lux and Lux Nav the V40 Cross Country comes packed with standard equipment such as autofolding door mirrors with ground lights, 16″ alloy wheels, rain sensor with automatic wiper function and silver roof rails.
Entry level models also come with Bluetooth®, DAB and a High Performance audio with 5″ colour display screen. The Lux Nav derivative on test was absolutely fully loaded.
Two petrol engines are available in a number of power configurations the 1.6-litre, 4-cylinder unit has a power output ranging from 120bhp-150bhp and the 2.5-litre, 5-cylider T5 unit has a flagship power output of 254 bhp. Two 1.6 and 2.0-litre diesel engines are offered again in a number of power outputs and all are available with either manual or automatic transmissions.
Prices start from £23k for the entry level Cross County SE and up to £33k for the top of the range petrol T5 AWD Geartronic Cross Country Lux Nav, the latter is the only model in the entire range to have AWD functionality.
With only one model featuring permanent all-wheel drive what justification is there to buy a V40 Cross Country when for £33k you can buy a decently specced Land Rover Discovery?
In truth very few buyers of off-road vehicles go off-road, the supermarket or school run are the most ardent of journeys owners attempt. Therefore the argument remains, what justification is needed to buy any 4×4/AWD car?
So it comes down to appeal and the V40 Cross Country has plenty, from that rugged body work, to the 22nd Century looking 19-inch alloys which come in at £2k for the set and are stupidily worth going for if you like your alloy wheels to stand out with OEM approved bling.
And the appeal continues into the interior, from the premium quality feel of the materials such as the leather interior too the finishing applied on the surfaces and the elegant simplicity of the interior design. Yes the buttons are needlessly fiddly but one passenger even remarked its better than his Mercedes A Class. I wouldn’t disagree with that.
The V40 is a compact hatch so interior space such as headroom is limited for rear seated passengers is a tight squeeze if you are over 6ft, but up front you won’t have much to worry about.
The V40 Cross Country on test came fitted with the 4-cylinder 1.6-litre, 114bhp D2 engine which emits a tax friendly 99g/km of C02. While not delivering heart stopping performance it’s the most economical of the pick of engines returning 60mpg on a combined run.
Its relatively quiet on the move and has enough mid-range torque on offer to quell any rumors of power shortages. Handling dynamics are well judged although this is not the type of car to make you feel like the king of drivers.
The steering has a light relaxed gate although lacking in feel the car turns in smoothly and you do get a sense of reassuring grip from the tyres. The low speed ride is a little firm but when cruising at motorway/autobahn/freeway speed its comfortable and measured enough to cause minimal discomfort.
Admittedly we don’t pay too much attention towards boot space, however the hatchback profile means the Volo V40 has a decent sized boot, 335-litres litre with the seats upright and 1.032 with the rear seats folded flat.
The V40 is a great car on its own merit and it looses none of its appeal in Cross Country mode, despite the high asking price for the top of the range model. Now typical authoritative motoring journalists will say if you go for the lower spec model you save money but still get a decent amount of kit.
We say the buying decision is ultimately up to you, and we also say don’t under estimate Volvo they are making some decent products right now. If you are after a Mercedes A Class our advice is to try the V40 first and you will see the difference because style is never out of fashion.