Few small hatchbacks look as good as the Volvo V40, but you can buy better tow cars. The D2 diesel would be our pick of the engine line-up for day-to-day driving, but it’s stretched by towing a caravan. There’s not a lot going on at low revs, and even when the engine does wake up, acceleration is pedestrian. It took a full 25.6 seconds to go from 30-60mph.
At high speeds the Volvo’s suspension seemed short of control, and the car moved around in crosswinds more than we would have liked. However, the harder the V40 was pushed, the better it seemed to cope. In the lane-change test the V40 stuck to its task, however much the caravan leaned and slid behind it.
In the hill-start test the handbrake held first time and the V40 pulled to the top of the hill, provided the driver balanced clutch and throttle with care.
Inside, cabin space is broadly similar to what you’d find in a Volkswagen Golf. However, the 335-litre boot is significantly smaller than the VW’s, and couldn’t cope with a full load of holiday luggage.
The D2 promises exceptional economy on the combined cycle (78.5mpg), which should contribute to low running costs. A retained value of 38% after three years is modest for such an upmarket car, though.