If there were a prize for the best-looking tow car, the Volvo V40 Cross Country would be in the hunt. But other than looking mean and purposeful, we found it slightly disappointing.
With four-wheel-drive and a powerful diesel engine, the hill-start test should have been easy for the Volvo. However, the handbrake was reluctant to hold car and caravan still and the engine bogged down too easily. Plenty of revs were needed to reach the top of the slope, and a foul smell showed that the clutch had suffered.
Rather like the front-wheel-drive V40 tested in the second weight class, the four-wheel-drive Cross Country tended to wander when driven at motorway speeds, but performed much better in the lane-change test, bossing the caravan with real authority. The 30-60mph time of 11.7 seconds shows the strength of the D4 engine once it hits its stride, and the brakes were reassuringly powerful.
Even for a car of this size, boot space is limited and we couldn’t fit anything like a full load of holiday luggage in the back. However, trailer stability control, a well-written handbook and neatly integrated towing gear save the Volvo from a worse practicality score.