2014 VOLVO V40 CROSS COUNTRY REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Five door hatch
Price: $47,990 (plus on-roads)
Engine/Trans: 130kW/400Nm 5cyl diesel | 6spd auto
Fuel Economy claimed: 5.3 l/100km | tested: 7.3 l/100km
Volvo has entered the tidal surge of crossovers by jacking up its V40 hatch. What you see here is the result - the V40 Cross Country.
It wins on one score straight away: the V40 CC has it all over its hatch sibling for style.
The ever-so-slightly taller body is certainly more complimentary to the V40’s shape, and, in our tester, we liked the contrast of the protective black plastic silhouette against the white duco.
But, like many in the segment, the V40 Cross Country is not all-wheel-drive despite the jacked-up stance (that only comes with the V40 CC T5).
The question then becomes: does sticking plastic bump strips and lifting things a few millimetres really make it worth the extra $2000 over the standard V40 D4?
That’s what we spent a week investigating, and the results are mixed.
Quality: The latest generation of Volvo passenger vehicles do not put a foot wrong when it comes to build and quality feel.
The plastics across the dash are soft-touch with a beautiful grain, the metal accents look excellent (the embossed 'Cross Country' looks smart) and the instrumentation is bang up-to-date.
Really, you don’t notice any difference between this and the S60 apart from cabin size.
The red stitching against the black leather is subtle, but noticeable enough to show how well it’s been done.
There’s a copper tone to the Volvo signature ‘floating’ centre stack, but, to our thinking, the jury’s out as to whether it harmonises with the blacks, greys and silvers of the interior.
Comfort: While front seat passengers will have no complaints, the rear seats can get a little tight if those up front are tall.
Volvo’s packaging is clever, however. A low hip-point and good under-thigh bolstering has passengers sitting with knees slightly raised, reducing the need for miles of space behind the front seats.
While this is not a problem for young people, getting out from that position is a lot more difficult for older ones, as evidenced in our week-long test.
The seats themselves, however, are brilliant. Plenty of adjustment, grippy yet soft; these seats are perfect for long highway hours.
Equipment: The only two options fitted to our car were heated front seats ($375) and panoramic tinted glass roof ($2,650), both luxuries, not necessities.
Apart from that, the V40 CC has plenty to offer.
There’s a Sensus stereo system which pumps out of eight speakers, MP3, USB, and iPod playback, Bluetooth audio and telephony, a seven-inch full colour screen with sat-nav and voice control, and multifunction steering wheel.
The centre-stack is littered with buttons and is a little confusing initially. Also confusing is the menu selection which scrolls up and down the wrong way around (it’s built for the left-hand-drive market).
But, after a week of familiarising, you will become accustomed to its idiosyncrasies.
There’s also ambient lighting, a three-mode instrument display (ECO, Elegance and Performance), electrically adjustable front seats, and climate control with cabin pollen-filter.
The rear-vision mirror is self-dimming and looks very cool with its ‘borderless’ presentation, plus there’s an LCD display showing your compass orientation.
Not so cool, irritating in fact, is that the speed signs which show up in the centre instrument cluster are taken from the sat-nav - you can tell because half of them are wrong.
This can get a bit irritating when it flashes at you, telling you that you’ve exceeded the speed limit - when you clearly haven’t.
Volvo will need to get that updated fairly regularly, or give us an option to disable it.
Storage: We’re not sure about the recesses beside the outboard rear seats, unless you’re planning to stash a few lollies. With their shallow opening, at least they’ll be easy to clean.
There are two cupholders up front, covered by a bread-box sliding lid, and two at the front edge of the rear centre-seat, with a flip out cover.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: The V40 CC is a curious beast. It has a lot to like, and some negatives too.
Nestled under the bonnet is a 2.0-litre, five-cylinder turbo-diesel. It gives the CC an interesting note and its outputs of 130kW and 400Nm are quite reasonable.
Those numbers hustle it to 100kmh in just 8.3 seconds.
The five-cylinder is a little rattly at idle, with its uneven cylinder count making balancing at low revs a little difficult.
When under load, at high revs, it makes a noticeable warble, and while not intrusive, is certainly more present than some four-cylinder diesels.
But away from idle it also smooths out a lot, so it’s happiest ambling along in middling revs, where its torque peaks (1750-2750rpm).
Fuel consumption is a plus. Since most of our trekking was done around the city, a figure of 7.3 L/100km is pretty good, especially with a heavy size-ten hoof keeping things motivated.
It must be noted, however, that only the petrol V40 CC is available in all-wheel-drive.
The strong torque of the diesel with just two wheels at work is something you will notice in the wet in this car. It can occasionally clamber for grip.
Sure, the ESC tries its best to rein in wheel-spin when setting off briskly, but AWD would be preferable.
Refinement: Volvo has done a good job of suppressing road and wind noise; the cabin is impressively hushed - even the warbly diesel smooths out noticeably as the revs rise.
The start-stop system works extremely well, with near-instant start-up when your foot leaves the brake pedal, certainly besting systems from Mercedes-Benz, for example.
Ride and Handling: With a slightly taller ride-height compared with the V40, the Cross Country handles exactly as you’d expect - a slighty taller V40.
That means a similar, if softer ride than the V40 (it’s still Euro-style firm), but it can’t be pushed quite as hard when really hustled.
It will lean on its front end a tad more than you’d like if being hustled along. Having a heavier diesel up front probably contributes here also.
At higher speeds and on country roads however, it retains a nice balance, flowing from bend to bend effortlessly.
The steering is typical Volvo - it's well-weighted but slightly wooden, and not quite as direct as we’d like. With an 11.3m turning circle, it’s not as easy to park as its size suggests (a Land Rover Discovery 4 is 11.4m by comparison).
Braking: Braking is taken care of by ventilated discs front and rear, which have plenty of bite at all speeds. The pedal feel is very good.
ANCAP rating: 5-Stars - the V40 on which the CC is based scored 36.67 out of 37 possible points.
Safety features: Of course, this is a Volvo, so expect a focus on safety.
In addition to plenty of airbags, crumple zones, side intrusion bars and other safety features you’d expect from a new Volvo, the V40 CC gets a pedestrian airbag, which inflates and partially covers the windscreen in the event of an accident.
City Safety, which automatically brakes when it senses the car in front isn’t moving, is also standard, as is roll-over protection. Blind spot warning and cyclist detection are optional features.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/unlimited kilometres - roadside assistance is included during the warranty period.
Service costs: Service costs vary between dealers and with each service increment. Consult your local dealer for pricing.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Mercedes-Benz A 200 CDI ($41,900) - With classy styling and funky interior styling, the A-Class has leapt into mainstream consciousness as the best way to get a three-pointed star on your keyring.
It just so happens to drive pretty well, too. (see A-Class reviews)
Lexus CT 200h Luxury ($39,990) - A lot quieter than the V40 CC and just as well built, plus it’s more than a match for the D4’s efficiency. But it is liesurely on road and the irritating CVT counts against the CT 200h, though. (see CT 200h reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The idea of a car that calls itself Cross Country but can only stick to a gravel road at best does jar a little. Ignore the name though, and the V40 CC is a very nice machine.
So yes, it’s worth the extra $2K, in our opinion, over the standard V40 (you would almost choose it over the V40 on good looks alone).
Of course, whether you're prepared to make the leap is another question entirely.
It's an appealing car but, at $48k, is firmly in premium hatch territory.
With the Mazda3 knocking on the premium door for a lot less money, plus the evergreen Golf offering plenty of style and substance, the V40 CC (and V40 by extension) may have its work cut out for it.
But having those safety credentials has gotta count for something, right?
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.