Review and road test of the Volvo V40 Cross Country (2016 - 2020)
By Jonathan Crouch
Volvo's V40 Cross Country model made a play for the growing Qashqai-class Crossover market. It was originally launched in 2012 but is examined here in the improved form that debuted in 2016. It offers an alternative perhaps, to that Audi Q3, Mercedes GLA or BMW X1 from the 2016-2020 era you might have been thinking about. Though the changes over a standard V40 may be slight, you do get a premium feel, class-leading efficiency - and the option of 4WD at the top of the range.
5dr Hatchback (2.0 petrol / 2.0 Diesel)
Qashqai-style Crossovers now fill our roads, family hatchbacks with a touch of the Outback about them. But is it really necessary for a brand to design a product from scratch in order to compete in this growing market niche? Back in 2014, Volvo reckoned not, bringing us the car we're looking at here, their V40 Cross Country model. It was improved in 2016 and it's that later 2016-2020-era model we look at here.
If the ordinary V40 didn't exist, you might see this as a very credible kind of compact crossover. As it is, we know that this is a V40 in a pair of hiking boots - though unlike some supposedly 'proper' Qashqai-class models, it did offer the top-of-the-range option of 4WD.
From Volvo's perspective, there's everything here that you need in a compact Qashqai-class Crossover - and nothing you don't. And the 'everything you need' bit from 2016 onwards included class-leadingly efficient 2.0-litre petrol and diesel Drive-E engines.
What You Get
The V40 Cross Country variant offered a more outdoorsy look delivered courtesy of silver roof rails, side scuff plates and glossy black door mirrors. Otherwise, the look is much as with any other V40 from this era. The safer a car is, the safer will be its approach to exterior design. That was once true of small Volvos - but it isn't any more. In fact, it's precisely because this V40 is good in an accident that it looks so smart. We'll explain. Almost all cars have relatively high bonnet lines, so as to leave an under-bonnet void to meet pedestrian impact legislation. But, thanks to a unique under-bonnet airbag, this car doesn't need to allow for that, so its bonnet line can be much lower, part of a lean, wide coupe-like stance in a shape very slightly longer and wider than rival BMW 1 Series or Audi A3 models.
In short, it's all pleasantly different, an observation equally applicable in the cabin. The inside of this car needed to be good if sales were to be stolen from the likes of the Mercedes A-Class and the Audi A3, a tough assignment tackled with an unpretentious 'Designed Around You' philosophy. The idea was that, like IKEA furniture, this cabin should be typically Scandinavian, comfortable, simple, intuitive and visually pleasing. And broadly it is.
Courtesy of a curve on the doorsill, access into the back isn't quite as easy as with some rivals, but once you're inside, leg, shoulder and kneeroom are quite good for two adults, courtesy of the way that the seats were angled slightly inwards to give rear occupants more space and a better view forward.
And luggage room? Overall, the total space provided is significantly more than you'd get in a Ford Focus, about the same as you'd get in a more comparable Mercedes A-Class and about 10% less than you'd get in rivals like Audi's A3 and BMW's 1 Series from this era.
What to Look For
Our ownership survey revealed plenty of door lock issues (a known problem), so check these work as they should. Some buyers also commented upon issues with bodywork and trim, so check the panel fits. As usual with a used car, check that all the electrical items work properly and look out for error messages popping up on the driver information screen in the middle of the speedometer. We've also come across issues with the adaptive cruise control. Check for warning messages on this in the driver's information display.
Just after the end of the V40's production run, Volvo had to recall around 70,000 cars in the UK fitted with a 2.0-litre diesel engine, over potential engine fires. With regard for this, look out for any unusual smells coming into the interior and be concerned if the engine warning light illuminates. There was a product recall relating to airbags that might not deploy correctly in a collision and applies to V40s made between April 2016 and October 2016.
(approx based on a 2016 Volvo V40 D4 Cross Country ex VAT) An oil filter is in the £10-£13 bracket. An pollen filter is in the £12-£21 bracket. A wiper blade will cost you about £11-£147. Front brake pads sit in the £20-£59 bracket; rears will sit in the £17-£31 bracket. Front brake discs sit in the £44-£190 bracket; rear discs are about £67. A water pump is in the £50 bracket.
On the Road
There's no ride height increase for the 4x4 Cross Country variant, so light field tracks will be about its limit when it comes to off road excursions. Thanks to its Ford Focus-derived underpinnings, the V40 drives better than you might expect a Volvo to - which is important given that buyers in the premium compact hatch class tend to hold great store in driving dynamics. The steering isn't especially feelsome, but the 'Dynamic' chassis and suspension set-up - standard on most models - offers a decent blend of well-controlled body roll and rough road suppleness.
The key changes made to later versions of this car lay beneath the bonnet, where by 2016, Volvo had completed the installation of its efficient 'Drive-E' engine technology across the range. The units in question are nearly all 2.0-litre petrol and diesel powerplants. Most will want one of the diesels - there are two for the Cross Country; the base 150bhp D3 or the 190bhp D4. If you prefer the idea of petrol power, there's again a three-way choice of units; the 122bhp T2, the 152bhp T3 or the rare 245bhp T5. That T5 offers an AWD option if you choose the SUV-like 'Cross Country' body style, but there's no ride height increase for this variant, so light field tracks will be about its limit when it comes to off road excursions.
We think that used car buyers looking for a compact premium used crossover ought to take a fresh look at this Volvo V40 Cross Country, especially in this last-of the-line 2016-2020-era form. It looks the part and is classy enough to compete with the smarter German brands. It's no off-roading tool of course, even if you do choose the 4WD version - but then few cars in this class really are. Of more interest to most potential owners will be the class-leadingly efficient Drive-E petrol and diesel engines that can be opted for beneath the bonnet. They characterise this car's more pragmatic approach to Crossover motoring. If that appeals to you, then you might well agree with Volvo that what we have here is a lifestyle-orientated family hatchback worth getting cross about.
Volvo V40 Cross Country (2016 - 2020) review by Jonathan Crouch