This is the Volvo V40 Cross Country, its suffix denoting SUV pretensions for the V40 hatchback. You get a raised ride height, and some rugged body trim for £1000 over a normal V40 – we drove the entry-level D2 diesel version to see if the Cross Country is the pick of the V40 range.
How much further off road will I get in a Volvo V40 Cross Country?
No further than a regular mode, we reckon. You see, it’s not called an XC40 because this is a stop-gap model until the real XC40 arrives in 2016. So, for the ‘Cross Country’, you get an extra 40mm of ride height (up to 173mm overall) and a plastic-clad bodykit with fake kickplates (also plastic), but that’s your lot. Go-anywhere outdoorsiness? Not here. It’s not so much Bear Grylls as your average bloke who’s been shopping in Millets.
So there’s no four-wheel drive model?
Not if you’re buying a diesel V40 Cross Country, which most UK buyers will be, as it’s front-wheel drive only. The top-spec £34k T5 petrol model gets all-wheel drive to harness the 250bhp from the turbocharged 2.5-litre five-cylinder motor. It’s an uprated version of the engine that was offered in the pensioned-off C30 T5 and previous Ford Focus ST, so although it’s amusingly fast (0-62mph is reeled off in 6.4sec), sub-30mpg in everyday driving means it’ll be rarer on British roads than a benevolent white van man.
All the diesel models are front-drive. The D3 offers 148bhp and 258lb ft, while the five-cylinder D4 offers an extra 27bhp and 37lb ft and suffers no official fuel economy deficit – both D3 and D4 score an official 72.4mpg.
What's the entry-level D2 V40 XC like?
We’d say so. The powertrain is identical to the 114bhp/199lb ft engine in our V40 long-termer, which returned 46.5mpg in everyday driving (versus Volvo’s 78.5mpg claim) and a sufficient if not exactly surging mid-range. You’ll row the pleasant six-speed manual for overtakes more often than the brawnier diesels, but the engine never feels out of its depth and the purchase price and potential running cost savings are appealing.
I bet it feels no different to drive than a regular V40...
In most respects, you’d be right: same stodgy steering, same well-sorted brakes, same low levels of ambient noise and generally more relaxed vibe than Volvo’s German rivals. That is, apart from the ride quality – or lack thereof. There’s actually no extra suspension travel (the ride height boost comes courtesy of longer wheel spindles up front and modified link arms at the rear) and Volvo’s altered the damping rates and added new anti-roll bars to compensate for the Cross Country’s loftier stance, and it’s a touch more fidgety on British roads and noisier across expansion joints and potholes than regular V40s.
The V40 Cross Country suffers from the same cramped rear quarters and shallow glasshouse as the standard car, meaning rear space and visibility is tighter than the exterior proportions suggest. If safety is your main concern though, look no further – speccing the £1900 Driver Assistance Pack brings lane-departure warning assist and automatic corrective steering if you drift out of your lane, plus automatic city braking, pedestrian detection, and radar cruise control.
You’d be right to argue that the Volvo V40 Cross Country’s main rivals, cars like the BMW X1 and Audi Q3, offer no palpable utility or off-road abilities versus a bread-and-butter family hatchback, and buyers won’t notice the lack of trekking capacity anyhow.
Nevertheless, you’d have to be sorely tempted by the V40 Cross Country’s butch styling to spend an extra £1000 on one over the commendable standard car. Stick to the regular model, ignore the temptation to turn it into a quasi-crossover, and put the saved money towards one of the lustier engines.