Tech-tastic Volvo V40 takes the fight to Audi, BMW and Mercedes

Seriously safe

We'd need half a hard drive to cover all the features. But there are three highlights that give a great flavour of what the V40 is capable of and why it stands out. The first is the pedestrian airbag system.

It addresses the main danger to pedestrians, hard points. You may be surprised to learn that things like bumpers, bonnets and windscreens offer reasonable levels of energy-absorbing give. Essentially, they deform upon impact.

Volvo's pedestrian airbag

No so for windscreen pillars, which are super-strong to provide protection to passengers during impacts and roll-overs. So, the idea with the pedestrian airbag is to out something soft between the pillars and pedestrians. It's standard on all V40s.

It's got frickin' laser beams

Next up is City Safety. The headline news here is using front-mounted lasers to detect and prevent imminent collisions. It's not a unique system, but it is the first time we've seen one that works up to 50kph (a little over 30mph). Most have a limit of 30kph.

Volvo V40

Finally, there's Cross Traffic Alert. The idea here is to make backing out of parking spaces safer by detecting passing traffic. Basically, the system sounds an alert if any vehicles are approaching. Unlike the pedestrian airbag and City Safety, this a feature we could try out ourselves and we can confirm it both works as advertised and seems genuinely useful.

So, the V40 is exceptionally safe and well equipped, even if the infotainment kit is off the pace in terms of connectivity and apps. But what's it like to drive? On the upside, it's a very refined and competent drive. All the engines are well isolated, as is wind noise on the motorway.

The V40's Scandinavian design

The cabin is a very pleasant place to spend time thanks to decent build quality and Volvo's understated Scandinavian design. What the V40 isn't, however, is a dynamic masterpiece. It suffers from the classic symptoms of occasionally choppy ride combined with patchy body control that signify a chassis ever so slightly out of sorts.

Try before you buy

Volvo V40 rear

To be clear, the V40 is by no means bad. It's just not as polished and resolved as the very best. And the Volvo Sensus platform needs an upgrade for the full TechRadar recommendation.

But Volvo's new premium hatchback still has an awful lot going for it. If its particular mix of features and qualities grabs you, we recommend you give it a try. For the record, UK prices kick off at £19,745.


Technology and cars. Increasingly the twain shall meet. Which is handy, because Jeremy (Twitter) is addicted to both. Long-time tech journalist, former editor of iCar magazine and incumbent car guru for T3 magazine, Jeremy reckons in-car technology is about to go thermonuclear. No, not exploding cars. That would be silly. And dangerous. But rather an explosive period of unprecedented innovation. Enjoy the ride.