Volvo’s answer to Audi’s S-line and BMW's M Sport turns the nondescript V40 into an able performer with the looks to boot.
When Volvo first introduced the V40, it didn't quite live up to expectations, and thus was consistently overlooked by potential buyers in favour of hatchbacks from the other European brands. Granted that the car looked sporty, but the car lacked the Rrrrrrr factor that would make anyone take a second glance or request for a repeat test drive. But that has changed with Volvo's application of the R-Design treatment to its newly facelifted V40, and with this Rrrrrrr treatment of sportier adornments to the car's exterior, performance tweaks from Polestar and the eye catching Rebel Blue paintjob, the already sporty looking five-door hatch from Volvo now not only talks the talk, it walks the walk. But can the Swedish brand shake up the premium hot-hatch segment monopolised by the Germans?
Looks wise, the V40 R-Design is truly an exciting car that screams "Look at me!". With an aggressive front bumper with new LED running lights, a rear diffuser sandwiched by a pair of exhaust pipes and the very stylish looking dual-tone 18-inch five spoke ‘Ixion’ rims, Volvo's R-Design treatment has certainly turned plain Jane into sassy prom queen.
As for the interior, one would find a chunky steering wheel, aluminium pedals and chrome trimmings that are suggestive of the car’s sporty characteristics. Also included in the mix to enhance the car's premium feel are the R-Design badges and business-like blackness of the upholstery. The rest of the V40 R-Design however remains unchanged as it retains the quality bits similar to its siblings, such as the fully digital dashboard instrument cluster, driver oriented floating centre console and the full length panoramic sunroof. But how does it drive?
Under the V40 R-Design's bonnet sits a turbocharged 1.6-litre engine that churns out 180 hp and 240 Nm worth of torque, and with tweaks from Volvo tuner Polestar, power and torque is raised by 20 hp and 45 Nm for a total of 200 hp and 285 Nm of torque. The car does the century sprint in just 8.5 seconds, and considering the car's weight, this is an impressive timing. Transmitting power to the wheels is done via a smooth shifting six-speed dual clutch automatic transmission. On the move, the car performs ably round bends, with the nicely weighted steering providing great feedback. Being eager to accelerate at the slightest of prods at the pedal, braking ably with its well servoed brakes as well as excellent ride comfort, the V40 R-Design is a treat to drive.
Packed with a slew of safety features, stylish design and sporty performance, Volvo's V40 R-Design is a truly exciting and satisfying car to drive. And combining the elements of a family oriented people mover with the ability of a hot hatch, the V40 R-Design is definitely an enticing alternative in the premium hot-hatch market.