THE new Volvo V40 hatchback lineup is arguably the best-looking model yet to emerge from the Swedish car maker, which is owned by Chinese manufacturer Geely.
And what a lineup it is, with prices starting at R281200 going right up to R397100, and the 16 variants designed to appeal to most tastes and pockets.
Initially, Volvo is launching with the V40 in T3 manual, T4 manual, D2 manual and D3 Geartronic derivatives. The remainder of the local lineup, including the spectacular V40 R-Design, will be available from next March.
What is it?
The V40 (based on the Ford Focus) is a modern, expressive car with a Scandinavian luxury look and feel.
It also has a high-quality aura, provides meticulous attention to detail and features a bewildering array of computer settings that will have drivers searching the net for the "Instruction manual for V40 Dummies" (of course, there is none).
It really is difficult to get to grips with the on-board car computer!
The engine range spans everything from Volvo's first diesel with CO2emissions of just 94g/km to the turbocharged T5 petrol engine with 187kW and acceleration from 0 to 100km/h in 6.7 seconds. All versions feature startstop and braking energy regeneration, no matter whether they are manual or automatic.
How does it look?
At last Volvo has broken away from the Ikea boxed-furniture type of vehicle mentality and set the benchmark for hatchback looks and design.
The blend of coupe-like roofline and dynamic sculpted surfaces gives the car a modern, athletic look. However, it is also a proud descendant of classic Volvos thanks to subtle design cues such from the iconic P1800.
What's it like to drive?
The launch drive took place in Knysna and surrounds and was confined to tar roads. The petrol models were brisk and handled well, but we found the turbo diesel models suffered from lag at lower revs, although they provided a satisfactory driving experience when torque picked up. We also found that inside the car the roofline was low and we bumped our heads a few times.
Packed with the latest safety features (it has a Euro five-star rating), the V40 is once again a market leader with a class-leading safety and driver support package. This includes Volvo's groundbreaking pedestrian detection system with full auto brake and several other new features.
Any special features?
There are many including a world- first pedestrian airbag, lane keeping aid with auto steering, and an ingenious park-assist pilot that makes parallel parking easy.
The city safety low-speed collision avoidance system has been further developed and now operates at speeds up to 50km/h.
Volvo says the V40 is the most intelligent and safe Volvo model so far.
Should you buy one?
As we mentioned, the V40 has a 16variant lineup and sets the benchmark for hatchbacks as far as price and styling go.
That means it's a no brainer if you are in the market for an ultra-safe, modern car.
Obviously, a test drive is a must!
Volvo V40 T5 direct injection turbo
Engine: 2497cc five-cylinder in-line petrol
Power: 187kW at 5 400rpm
Torque: 360Nm between 1 800 and 4 200rpm
Top Speed: N/A
Fuel Consumption: 6.2l/100km (claimed combined)
Volvo V40 D3 Geartronic Elite
Engine: 1 990cc five-cylinder turbodiesel
Power: 110 kW (rpm N/A)
Torque:360 Nm (rpm N/A)
0-100km/h: 9.3 seconds
Top Speed: 205km/h
Fuel consumption: 7,9l/100km (claimed combined)
We like: Brilliant styling
We do not like: Inside roofline is low