When anyone mentions Volvo, the first thing which springs to my mind is the magnificent 240GL Wagon.
A massive shed of a car it could quite easily accommodate a family of five, a couple of suitcases and the dogs would fit in as well - it became an icon of the brand and was so popular, it was kept on the production line for 18 years.
Its popularity spread across the globe and, like few others, it straddled the social divide. It was not only a family car and a firm favourite with pipe-smoking middle-aged bearded men transporting what appeared to be the contents of someone’s house, it was much vaunted by the moneyed gentry who carried their gun dogs and families in and around their stately piles.
The final 240GL came off the production lines in 1993 and Volvo continues to build good quality cavernous vehicles. Now it aims to take on the premium luxury compact market and with the classy and sleek 5-door V40 D2 SE Lux competes against the likes of Audi and Mercedes and BMW.
Unlike its boxy, elderly relative, the V40 is streamlined, neat and elegant with a manual six-geared 1.6-litre diesel unit which turned in an average 63.8mpg from 890-or so miles of motorway, dual carriageways, A roads and winding country lanes.
The model I drove had an extras package which included heated leather front seats, an easy to use and accurate sat nav on a 5in screen, DAB radio, Bluetooth, adaptive cruise control and many more.
Typically for Volvo safety is a top priority and, along with pedestrian and cyclist detection, blind spot information system on both sides, collision warning with full auto brake and a lane- keeping aid to keep you out of trouble. It also has sensors front and back, parallel parking assist and a rear park assist camera to help keep the bodywork scratch and scuff free.
As far as driving is concerned, the V40, though a tad heavy on the steering, delivers a comfortable and steady drive which offers a taste of luxury you would expect for much more than the £31,870 price tag of my test car.
With 60mph reached in 11.9 seconds, this is one car which is built for comfort and not speed, but saying that it still delivers a constant 70mph with quiet ease and will happily stay there all day. While it won’t appeal to the boy racers, it is more likely to catch the eye of motorists whose preferences are economy, comfort, safety and good looks.
Whether it competes at the same level as its rivals remains to be seen.
IN A NUTSHELL
It’s a lovely looking car with all the lumps in all the right places and every gadget at your fingertips, economic and has comfort to spare. On the down side lack of somewhere to rest my feet while using cruise control left me a little fidgety at times.
Fuel type: Diesel
Average tested mpg 83.1
CO2 emissions g/km – 88g/km
Front wheel drive
Engine size- 1560
Acceleration – 0-62 in 11.9 seconds
Top speed – 118mph
V40 range available from (T2 ES) £18,940
V40 D2 SE Lux Nav available from £25,520
For more information on the full range of Volvo’s latest models go to www.volvocars.com/uk/