2013 VOLVO V40 CROSS COUNTRY REVIEW
What’s Hot: Willing engine, nice style, excellent brakes
What’s Not: Thirstier than rivals, no manual option
X-FACTOR: Like those earlier Cross Country wagons, the versatile new V40 is happy on tarmac or gravel.
Vehicle Style: Small hatch
Price: $52,990 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 187kW/360Nm; 5cyl petrol | 6spd auto
Fuel Economy (listed): 8.4 l/100km; (on test): 9.3 l/100km
There are two models on offer, both in 'Luxury' spec and each with a six-speed automatic transmission.
The first is the D4 turbo diesel producing 130kW and 400Nm from its five-cylinder 2.0 litre engine and available in front-wheel-drive only.
The second is the T5 turbo petrol, which makes a healthy 187kW and 360Nm from its five-cylinder 2.5 litre engine and comes equipped with all-wheel-drive.
While each looks suspiciously like a compact wagon (as was the original Cross Country), Volvo is positioning them as "hatches" here - maybe "wagon" is now just too passe.
We put the T5 on both tarmac and gravel roads to see how it stacks up against its rivals.
Volvo’s ‘floating console’ takes centre stage, controlling the audio system and climate control. A good touch is the numeric keypad.
The copper finish is also a nice touch to the console, adding some character. Leather trim is standard, and there are seven settings for the interior mood lighting.
We like the sporty instrument cluster behind the chunky wheel - it sits nicely with the sporting character of this car. It has three display settings, ‘elegance’, ‘eco’ and ‘performance’.
As for that fat-rimmed wheel, it will likely split the audience down the middle. We didn’t mind it, but others may find it a bit excessive.
We also quite like the rear-view mirror, which has an inbuilt compass display in the top corner; quite handy in unfamiliar areas.
The front seats are generally supportive without being too sporty, but a little more lumbar support would have been nice.
Other interior features include a 60/40 folding rear seat and an optional ‘fake’ floor for the boot to conceal its contents.
There’s also Bluetooth, USB and auxiliary ports, and, from the ‘why don’t all cars have this’ file, a simple pen-holder in the glove box.
ON THE ROAD
The Volvo V40 Cross Country responds well on the tarmac when showed some tight corners.
All-wheel-drive grip and a powerful and responsive five-cylinder engine would please most who choose to spend an afternoon driving an entertaining mountain pass.
Mid-range acceleration is quite strong, but the auto transmission is a little too keen to kick down a gear.
But then, conversely, when you would like it to down-shift in ‘sport’ mode, it can be slow to respond.
It is however certainly a keen performer - it can really be hustled along should you choose to let those 187kW loose.
But this is the Cross Country version remember. It comes with a slightly raised ride-height and a little extra body protection in the right places. So it will surely be right at home on gravel roads?
While we wouldn’t recommend tackling a rugged track, the V40 Cross Country makes an easy transition from tarmac to gravel.
The suspension however is firm and the low-profile tyres show it’s set up more for tarmac.
That said, its good ground clearance and protection, as well as the AWD traction, can see it comfortably tackling lighter 'off the beaten track' duties for the family excursion.
On our drive, while the V40 managed small bumps and ruts on the gravel roads, bigger hits were quite noticeable through the sports-biased suspension.
As for the brakes, they're excellent, but take a little getting used to as they are quite quick to bite.
Being a Volvo, we must of course make mention of the truck load of safety features.
Everything from adaptive cruise control, blind-spot information, pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-keeping aid, pedestrian airbag, cross-traffic alert, active high-beam, tunnel detection, and hill decent on all-wheel-drive models are all included, or form part of an optional “Driver Support Pack”.
The Driver Support Pack is a $5000 option, but Volvo – who expect many of their V40 Cross Country customers to choose this option - says it contains $9000 in value.
The V40 can even recognise road signs, displaying the speed limit on the digital instrument cluster to remind you.
Lastly, the stop/start feature operates smoothly and transparently, although our fuel use remained somewhat high (settling to 9.3 l/100km after some quieter driving).
FIRST DRIVE VERDICT
Compared to this trio, the Volvo V40 Cross Country T5 earns ticks for being cheaper and more powerful, but loses a little for being thirstier (it has a much larger engine), and only offering an automatic transmission.
But with this car Volvo adds something.
Where the regular V40 T5 R-Design is more than capable of tarmac duties, the Cross Country adds that extra touch of versatility without the clumsy looks of a soft-roader SUV.
The Cross Country offers the best of the R-Design driving experience while adding the genuine ability to get the family at least a little way into the boondocks.
At the price, and with those potent five-cylinders nestled under the bonnet, it's certainly worth a close look.
Pricing (excludes on-roads)
- V40 Cross Country D4 Luxury - $47,990
- V40 Cross Country T5 AWD Luxury - $52,990
Add $5000 for Driver Support Pack.