First Drives

20 December 2012

Volvo V40 D3 driven

Not quite the V40 of choice – that’s the D2 – but a good alternative if you don’t want to go German

Piers Ward
Car image

In many ways, the V40 is a normal hatch - five doors, engine in the front, five seats, parcel shelf, optional nodding dog. But Volvo can still throw a curveball, because it's persisting with five-cylinder diesel engines in the V40.

Hence why we're in this D3 model - the mid-point in the range between the four-cylinder D2 and another five-cylinder, the D4. The D3 has 148bhp and a useful 350Nm, which means the 0-100kph sprint takes a respectable, if not really rapid, 9.6 seconds.

But as with all diesels, it's better in gear - slot it into sixth and let the torque do the work. And because the turbo kicks in from just 1,500rpm, it's rarely out of the power band, whether you're on a motorway or a back road.

Here's the thing though - Volvo's point of difference is its weakest point. In the past, the five-cylinder was good because it had a characteristic thrum to the engine, which set it apart from rattly rivals. Jump forward to today, though, and four-cylinder diesels are whisper quiet and refined. Volvo's layout has been left behind because it sounds too raucous at idle, in town and under acceleration. In today's world, you need the four-cylinder D2.

The numbers
1984cc, 5cyl, FWD, 148bhp, 350Nm, 27.9kpl, 114g/km CO2, 0-100 in 9.6secs, 210kph, 1484kg

The verdict
Not quite the V40 of choice - that's the D2 - but a good alternative if you don't want to go German.

Tags: volvo, v40, v40 d3



We make a trip to the north-eastern end of the country to meet a real Jeep, in one that keeps it real from the current crop