By Wayne Gorrett
First published in DriverLink Magazine
In recent years, several car manufacturers have taken their best-selling hatchback or estate, raised the ride height by a few centimetres, embellished it with protective cladding along the lower sides and over the wheel arches, then finished off the outdoorsy look with under-sill scuff plates front and rear.
All are design cues aimed at affording the car a ruggedly adventurous appearance for those with a more outdoor lifestyle. However, some manufacturers do it better than others.
Up where the thicker cream floats is Volvo’s V40 Cross Country. In its recently-refreshed form it looks great – a regular V40 hatch but one sporting Berghaus hiking boots and accompanying North Face parker.
The Volvo V40 was launched in 2012. The range comprises the standard V40 hatch, the V40 R-Design and the V40 Cross Country. In 2015 a new clutch of turbo-charged engines was introduced and recently, the entire 45-model V40 range received subtle exterior styling enhancements, equipment upgrades and further reductions in CO2 emissions.
Exterior upgrades include the restyling of the front end with softer crease lines and new ‘Thor’s Hammer’ LED headlights first seen on the new XC90 SUV. Also new is the honeycomb grille mesh (unique to the Cross Country) featuring the updated and more visually striking Volvo iron mark. A new range of wheel options and five new exterior colours have been introduced.
Inside the updated Volvo V40 Cross Country, all-round space is good with comfortable front and rear furniture offering generous support in all the right places. Standard boot space is 335 litres which is about average for the class.
Steering on the V40 Cross Country is quite direct which makes the car easy to place in corners and the suspension does a decent job of resisting lean from the slightly raised body.
The D2 turbo-diesel as tested offers 120 bhp and its 280 Nm of torque is available from a lowly 1,500 rpm. Paired with the six-speed manual gearbox, it delivers a currently non-taxable 96g/km CO2 level of emissions. Add remarkable fuel economy of up to 76.4 mpg on the combined cycle and the cost of ownership makes good fiscal sense.
Cross Country models are generously equipped with climate control, Bluetooth, 19-in alloys, DAB, USB input and the most comprehensive range of safety systems in its class. It even has a dedicated airbag for pedestrians. The full Volvo V40 model range received the top five-star safety rating from its 2012 Euro NCAP test.
The updated Volvo V40 Cross Country is a genuine contender in its class. In two-wheel-drive configuration it makes no pretence at being a mud-plugging off-roader. However, with its extra ride height and protective cladding, the V40 D2 Cross Country is quite capable of tackling the most challenging rural tracks, green lanes and farm roads. Add all-round grown-up refinement, generous Cross Country kit, lively torque and throttle response from the strong D2 turbo-diesel and the V40 D2 Cross Country is easy to recommend.
Essential nuggets : Volvo V40 D2 Cross Country
* Engine: 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder turbo-diesel
* Transmission : Six-speed manual driving the front wheels
* Acceleration : 0-62mph : 9.9 seconds
* Top speed : 118 mph
* Power : 120 bhp @ 3,750 rpm
* Torque : 280 Nm between 1,500 and 2,250 rpm
* Emissions : 96g/km CO2
* Mpg : 76.4 (official combined)
* BIK (2016/17 tax year) : 19%