Our Volvo V40 Cross Country review takes place fifteen years after Volvo unveiled its first quasi-off-road Cross Country. Based on the popular V40 the new addition boasts chunky, on-trend “lifestyle” looks, raised suspension and, depending on what engine you choose from the five-strong lineup, a sophisticated four-wheel drive transmission as well.
Aimed squarely at those hip young couples forever spending their weekends skiing, surfing, mountain-biking and rock-climbing it’s actually more likely to be found on the school run, be-blazered children in tow. Regardless of where it’s used, the £1,000 premium over an equivalent V40 makes it surprisingly good value for money.
The standrd Volvo V40 is a handsome, if slightly unconventional design, with enough appeal to steal sales from its Audi, BMW and Mercedes rivals. And in that respect nothing’s changed with the Cross Country; its lifestyle design cues hitting, for us at least, the desirability nail squarely on the head. The ride height is boosted by 40mm, while the bodywork now sports front, rear and side scuff plates, roof-rails, larger wheels than the V40, a honeycomb grille and black trim details. It looks altogether tougher, able to survive whatever your lifestyle pursuits demand you drive it through, over or at.
The Volvo V40 Cross Country might not be an estate, but it still has a few storage tricks up its sleeve. Fold the front passenger seat flat for ladders, store the special Volvo ice scraper in its dedicated door card slot and leave your junk in the joey pockets on the front of the seats – Volvo’s thought of everything. There’s a false floor in the boot, the rear seats split 60/40, and the glass roof in our range-topping review model makes it feel more spacious than a regular V40. But though the front seats are as comfortable as we’ve come to expect from Volvo, the rear bench can still feel a little cramped.
Performance & handling
The Volvo V40 Cross Country is available with a four-wheel-drive system, but only if you opt for the range-topping 2.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine. Along with the six-speed Geartronic automatic box this version can sprint from 0-62mph in 6.4 seconds. Best of all, as an AWD model it benefits from the firm’s revised DSTC Sport system, which doesn’t cut the power and torque of the engine as abruptly as before.
And compared to its more conventional rivals the more car-like V40 is much more agile, with plenty of front end grip and little body roll. Even on our rutted Swedish test route the V40 Cross Country remained perfectly comfortable, especially at speed. For most though it’s the slower, slightly less capable but equally good looking front-wheel drive diesel cars that will make the most sensible purchase.
Economy & environment
The Volvo V40 Cross Country offers a choice of efficient diesel engines and low power petrol models for those concerned about money and the environment. If you want the AWD capability then the only option is the range topping 2.5-litre T5 petrol. That car is not especially efficient, especially as it’s attached to the six-speed Geartronic automatic transmission, resulting in headline figures of 34mpg and 194g/km CO2 emissions, though in reality you’ll achieve economy that’s a fair bit less than advertised. The standard stop/start helps but for those chasing the numbers it’s the 74.3mpg (and 99g/km) 1.6-litre diesel that makes the most sense.
Equipment & value
The V40 Cross Country costs an extra £1,000 over the standard V40 and is only available on SE and SE-Lux specifications. For that you get the Cross Country design features inside and out, and SE models all come with climate control, a host of safety systems, 16-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth, cruise control, rain sensing wipers and keyless start.
The SE-Lux models add leather seats, 17inch alloy wheels and active bending headlights to that mix. The car makes a strong case for itself. The top spec model driven here is thousands cheaper than a Range Rover Evoque, though the lesser spec models do face tough competition from the likes of the MINI Countryman or VW Tiguan.
It’s a Volvo, so you can bet your bottom dollar it’ll perform well in whatever roll over, offset impact or elk avoidance test you throw it into. Accolades include the coveted 5 star Euro NCAP award and the debut of an outside airbag – poised to soften the blow for any pedestrian surfing over the bonnet in an accident.
We really like the V40 Cross Country – for us the semi-off road styling, and the stance it gives the car, make it more visually appealing than the regular model. In AWD T5 form it’s actually pretty capable too, even on roads where the newly calibrated DSTC Sport setting makes for a much more engaging chassis.
However, it’s hard to recommend that particular setup in the UK where a diesel model, albeit with 2WD, would make much more sense. As a leftfield, but still premium, alternative to the likes of a VW Tiguan or MINI Countryman the Volvo makes a rather convincing case for itself.
Model tested: Volvo V40 Cross Country T5 AWD
Engine: 2.5-litre turbocharged five-cylinder
Acceleration: 0-62 in 6.4 seconds
Top speed: 130mph
Emissions: 194g/km CO2