Unsung hero: Volvo V40 T4

Would you take a chance on a Volvo as your first premium car?

volvo_v40_1At some point in time, after exhausting hand-me-down Protons and Peroduas during college days, and after working your way through Japanese offerings as you climb the career ladder, you would have arrived at the doorsteps of premium automobiles. Do you then remain in the safe haven of Asian brands, a rational choice, or do you take the plunge and hop on to something visually and dynamically more stimulating from the continent of Europe?

Why not a Volvo?                     

Way before the Germans ruled, Volvo were the luxury automobile brand in the 70s and early 80s, which coincidentally coincided with the fortunes of Sweden’s other major export, Abba, though the Germans never quite threatened pop domination with Nena and her 99 Luftballons, nor Falco with Rock Me Amadeus (he’s Austrian technically, but it was still a huge hit in Germany). Thankfully.


Despite the song and dance that came with a new design direction marketed as “The Revolvolution”, the turn of the century wasn’t kind to Volvo. After a listless marriage to Ford that lasted over a decade, Volvo has slowly rediscovered its mojo with Chinese backing. With the impending renewal of the range, and of course, the all-new XC90 making all the right headlines, things may be looking Super Trouper again.

At RM175,888, the Volvo V40 T4 slots neatly in the zone between upper mainstream and luxury segments. It represents a “gentler” entry to premium ownership, offering top-of-the-line safety features (why of course) along with free maintenance (parts included), warranty and roadside assistance programme covering the first five years of ownership, to calm any newcomer nerves.


Is the V40 T4 worthy of its premium tag?             

The V40 is based on the Ford Focus platform, but there’s little to suggest so on the outside and inside. Its profile lends credence to the “V” estate reference by deploying the visual trick of stretching the window line even though the space inside is no more than a hatchback’s worth. The “Revolvolution” design language still lives in the V40’s fluid lines which are interspersed with dramatic kinks. And though the smoothed over, soap bar treatment to the front isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, all who laid eyes on the V40 found it unique.


volvo_v40_6As with any Volvo, you’re guaranteed best seats in the house, literally. The Swedes must really know a few secrets about supporting the human body in an automobile because the V40 seats feel plush and sporty at the same time, qualities that are not typically mentioned in the same breath. Otherwise, the V40 interior is familiar Volvo fare – understated, functional, with just enough classy touches to lift the predominantly dark interior (bar the roof lining) of the T4. As alluded above, don’t expect estate-like utility with the V40. Though rear legroom is adequate and two adult occupants can sit comfortably, cargo space is stingy at only 324 litres (a VW Golf has 380 litres), or 1,021 litres when the rear seats are tumbled down.

Does the drive bring back memories?

volvo_v40_8Actually no, but it’s for the better. Ex-owner Ford obviously passed on a few pointers to Volvo in vehicle dynamics. For one, the V40 remains powered by a Blue Oval drivetrain – a 180hp/240Nm 1.6-litre Ecoboost engine that drives the front wheels via a 6-speed dual-clutch transmission. It’s a willing and punchy performer this turbocharged four-cylinder, and sounds delightfully eager when hauling the Volvo from 0-100km/h in a respectable 8.5 seconds, and on to a 225km/h top speed if you so wish. Secondly, the V40 behaves like a Focus in the way how the front axle offers masses of grip to lean hard on, along with a sharp steering response and tightly controlled body movements. The consequential drawbacks of firm suspension damping is the occasional intolerance to sharp bumps, a small price to pay for the bigger reward of driving pleasure.


Should you buy the V40 T4?

volvo_v40_9Since its launch in 2013, the V40 has played a steady, if quiet role in maintaining Volvo’s numbers on Malaysian roads. That said, the premium hatchback segment isn’t exactly overflowing with options. The Mercedes-Benz A-Class and the BMW 1-Series aren’t exactly stunning to look at and are pricier, the Lexus CT200h has since been crippled with an exorbitant asking price after the hybrid incentives ended, and while the VW Golf is a formidable product, after sales concerns continue to cast a dark shadow over its ownership. Which is why there’s room for the Volvo V40 (and future new entrants) to stake a claim, and based on our time spent with the car, there’s no reason to suggest why it isn’t worthy of serious consideration.

Note: For the month of September, Volvo Car Malaysia is offering a 10% discount (equivalent to zero down-payment) on the Volvo V40 T4. Assuming a hire purchase interest rate of 2.5%, the monthly payment works out to RM2,671 (5 years), RM1,993 (7 years) or RM1,616 (9 years).

Volvo V40 T4

Price RM175,888 (incl. GST, w/o insurance)
Engine 1.6-litre, 4-cylinder petrol, turbocharged, FWD
Output 180hp@5,700rpm, 240Nm@1,600-5,000rpm
Transmission 6-speed dual-clutch gearbox w/ manual mode
Performance 0-100km/h in 8.5 sec, top speed 225km/h
Wheels/tyres 16in alloys, 205/55 R16
Safety 7 airbags, Dynamic Stability Control, Blind Spot Warning & Cross Traffic Alert
Warranty 5-year/Unlimited