Volvo V40 T4 2013 Review

Volvo V40 T4 2013 Review


Happiness, according to Sonja Lyubormirsky’s book The How of Happiness, is fifty percent non-elective – stuff we can’t change easily because of our genetics and upbringing. Ten percent is environmental and forty percent is what you can influence.

volvo-v40-t4-instrument-clusterThe instrument interface that encompasses the speedo and trip computer makes me happy. It’s part of the ten percent. It makes me happy much the same as the sound of a TVR, the taste of blueberries and the curve of an ample


volvo-v40-t4-gear-knobHedonic adaptation means that if you have a permanent positive change then you will initially be happier, but you will gradually return to your inherent level of happiness, all other things being equal, i.e. you get used to it.

I didn’t get used to it in my week with the Volvo V40 T4. Every time I got in it and turned on the ignition those instruments sprang into life and I love it. I can’t say I love everything about the Volvo, though (the rest of the dashboard and the tiny screen are dated and fiddly), but it improved my user experience of the car.

I’ve spent four paragraphs talking about how just the speedo can influence your perception of the car, so looking at the rest of it impartially, what is it like? The answer is pretty damn good. The only things I don’t like are (as mentioned) the central dashboard area (and its ridiculous hidden tray behind the switches), the small boot, and that there is no reversing camera (but you can purchase this as an option for $875).

volvo-v40-t4-rqThe driving experience is superb. It’s smooth and quiet on the motorway, but it’s got enough suspension tautness to bite in the corners. The 225/45R17 tyres that adorn the 17-inch wheels give plenty of grip. It’s got a healthy amount of acceleration and delivers 100kph in 8.7 seconds from the 132kW, two litre, inline five-cylinder turbo petrol engine.

Being five cylinders you get that wonderful throatiness that sounds almost like a baby V8. Combined fuel economy is still respectable at 7.6l/100km, helping in part by the automatic stop/start system which cuts the engine while the car is stationary.

volvo-v40-t4-f-ineriorThe exterior features an almost crouching stance with the windows forming a strong converging line toward the haunches at the rear. It strikes an excellent balance between elegant and sporty. The body has a sculpted, flowing look, especially at the rear where the headlights wrap around the haunches.

The safety features include pedestrian airbag technology as well as lots on the inside (including driver’s knee airbag), Volvo City Safety and Pedestrian Detection that automatically brake the car in an emergency at speeds of up to 50kph.

Rear legroom is OK, but not spacious. It’s practical as a four-seater rather than a five-seater. There are a couple of cup holders that spring forth from the middle of the rear seat.

I never look at prices before I get a car and I guessed $60,000, so I was pleasantly surprised when I checked the specs and it was $7,000 cheaper than I expected. However, there are an awful lot of options you can add, from wheels right through to adaptive cruise control with driver alert, and this can bump the price up considerably.

In the driver satisfaction arena, the V40 satisfied me for my week with it. I could see myself owning one – it’s got a reasonable stereo, snugly fitting seats and Bluetooth phone connectivity – and I don’t even think that hedonic adaptation would see me tire of the instruments.

Price: $52,990


  • Smooth ride
  • Great instrument interface


  • The rest of the dashboard needs a redesign with less fiddly buttons and a larger screen
  • Can get a bit pricey if you want the options, considering what you get as standard in, for example, a Ford Mondeo Titanium

Words and photos: Darren Cottingham


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