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The Warsaw Voice » Society » August 1, 2013
Car Review
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Not Quite an Off-Road Warrior
August 1, 2013   
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The Volvo V40 has all the attributes of a safe, well-equipped and comfortable premium-class compact car. But, despite its name, the V40 Cross Country is not a vehicle that can safely venture off-road.

Up to now, the name Cross Country was largely synonymous with Volvo models that could wander off the beaten path, providing the terrain was not too tricky. The automaker’s XC70 Cross Country station wagon, for instance, bravely coped with unpaved roads thanks to its increased ground clearance and all-wheel drive.

Now it turns out that the name Cross Country has been used for a model that can at best be used to drive on gravel roads. The Volvo V40 Cross Country has front-wheel drive and a clearance of only 14.5 centimeters, which means it would be better for it to steer clear of unknown territory.

In fact, most users are likely to do just that. After all, let’s face it: if you buy a car for upwards of zl.115,000, you are not going to be gung-ho about using it off-road. The name Cross Country should in this case be treated as a case of stretching a definition—its trim package brings some ruggedness to the car’s appearance but without ever producing a full-fledged all-terrain vehicle.

I must admit that this model does look attractive: its extended front bumper with LED headlights, honeycomb grille and metallic sill plates make a good impression, especially when combined with the 18-inch sports alloy wheels and low-profile tires. The whole package looks great.

So what’s the V40 like in action? Let’s start with the driving position and the dashboard. In my opinion, Volvo has for years been among the world’s leaders when it comes to functionality and ergonomics. A driver of any size will find an ideal position behind the wheel for themselves. All the gauges and switches are within the driver’s sight and reach. The dashboard is stylish and easy to read. Instead of the classic gauges, there is one round display. You can choose the color and appearance to suit your personal preferences, and you don’t need to take your hands off the steering wheel.

The test-drive model was fitted with a five-cylinder 2-liter/177 hp Common Rail diesel engine. An immense torque of 400Nm is available at just 1,750 rpm. A vehicle with this engine is extremely responsive. Despite its considerable weight (1,480 kg), the Volvo takes only 8.3 seconds to hit 100 kph from standstill and achieves a top speed of 210 kph. According to the manufacturer, average fuel consumption is 5.2 liters per 100km. During the test-drive, it was almost two liters higher, but that is largely because the engine, combined with the direct steering system, springy suspension and a well-graded six-speed automatic Geartronic transmission, encouraged sporty driving.

One selling point of this model is its extensive standard equipment, including a full set of airbags and air curtains, ESP (electronic stability control), automatic air conditioning, cruise control, radio CD/MP3, electric windows and mirrors, xenon headlights, leather upholstery and hand-free keyless access. Standard equipment also includes the world’s only pedestrian protection system in the event of a front-end collision—in the form of an airbag mounted between the windshield and the hood, as well as the City Safety system for automatically braking the car and preventing collisions at speeds of up to 50 kph. The high level of safety is confirmed by Euro NCAP crash tests during which the model won a maximum five stars and was singled out for praise for its pedestrian protection system.

Does that mean the vehicle is without flaws in non-off-road use? Not quite. Even for a compact car, the interior of the Volvo V40 is not exactly spacious. In particular, back-seat passengers may feel a little cramped. The cargo space is also a bit of a letdown, at just 335 liters. Moreover, despite the vehicle’s compact dimensions and length of 4.37 meters, the turning circle is a disappointing 12.3 meters. Some may also be bothered by too much cabin noise (64.5dB at a speed of 100 kph), but in this case, I would actually consider the sound of the engine an asset, because few diesels out there sound as juicy. It’s just a pity that four-wheel drive is only available in the top-tier gasoline version.

The Cross Country costs zl.7,520 more than the standard versions of the V40. This does not seem like an awful lot considering the total price of the car, so why not go for it once you’ve decided to buy a Volvo.

Bartosz Grzybiński
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