First Drive: Volvo V40 D4
Sector: Lower Medium Price: £24,570–£28,220 Fuel: 74.3mpg CO2: 99g/km
Let’s forget about any preamble and cut straight to the chase; the D4 is the engine the V40 has been waiting for. We’ve driven this engine before (in the S60, V60, XC60, V70, XC70 and the S80) but never has it transformed any of them as it has with the V40.
Like the engine it replaces, it still has a 2.0-litre displacement, and drives the front wheels, except this time around the number of cylinders has been cut from five to four. This gives it improved fuel efficiencies; from 62.2mpg to 74.3mpg, while CO2 emissions have plunged three BiK bands lower, to 99g/km. Yet despite better economies, power has increased to a whacking 190bhp. It’s faster from a standing start too, shaving nine-tenths off its 0-62mph time; it’s now accomplished in 7.4 seconds.
This engine, then, instantly makes the V40 D4 a class leader in the high-performance diesel-powered hatchback market, surpassing the likes of the Volkswagen Golf GTD and BMW 120d. User choosers take note.
The V40’s transmissions have been updated too. The choice is between either a new six-speed manual or the optional eight-speed automatic. Of the two, and if it’s being bought as a BMW or Golf alternative, then stick to the short-gated manual. The auto is just a little too premature on the change and selects the next cog a tad before the engines’ power curve has fully reached its maximum potential.
There’s a 30kg weight saving on this engine too, which has an obvious and immediate impact on efficiencies and performance, but it’s also had an adverse effect on the handling. Combine the loss of weight over the front wheels with the engine’s extra power and the result translates into something which isn’t as cohesive as it could be.
So while the V40 D4 isn’t the most focused driving machine in its class, it ticks a lot more boxes than before.