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Driven: Volvo takes V40 Cross Country

Swede looks: Volvo’s V40 Cross Country features a rugged-looking exterior wrapped over a city-friendly hatchback.

High-riding Volvo V40 Cross Country hits town, is a city slicker at heart

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Volvo logo29 Aug 2013

SWEDISH car-maker Volvo has dipped a toe in the compact soft-roader segment, launching a luxury-laden version of the V40 that, under the surface, is much more at home in the city than the country.

The V40 Cross Country, as the model is known, continues Volvo’s trend of driving a wedge between its line-up, featuring city-friendly cars alongside a range of products promising a much more adventurous lifestyle than the owner is ever likely to take up.

It is also the first Volvo-badged car to position itself against BMW’s similarly priced X1 compact soft-roader, and even Audi’s Q3.

“Volvo is undergoing a rapid change in its model line-up and the V40 Cross Country is the latest addition,” Volvo Car Australia managing director Matt Braid said.

“Where the Volvo XC models happily flex their muscles, the V40 Cross Country boasts a sleek ruggedness with unique features integrated into the stylish Scandinavian design,” he said.

Volvo has limited choices on the Belgian-built hatchback to two five-cylinder engines and a single “Luxury” specification.

At $47,990 plus on-road costs for the front-wheel-drive diesel-engined D4 and $52,990 for the all-wheel-drive petrol, the car will command a $2000 premium over the equivalent diesel version of the V40 five-door hatchback on which it is based, and a $3000 premium over the petrol version.

However it is backed up with a long list of options, including a $5000 “Driver Support” bundle that about half of V40 owners take up. It adds some of Volvo’s key safety technologies, including adaptive cruise control, a blind spot monitor, a car park warning system that stops the driver backing out into oncoming traffic, and a collision warning system.

The diesel version boasts a five-cylinder turbo diesel producing 130kW of power to the front wheels via a six-speed automatic gearbox, and 400Nm of torque between a fairly narrow 1750-2750rpm. Fuel use is an official combined 5.3L/100km helped by an idle-stop system that switches the engine off while the Cross Country is stopped, while emissions are capped at 139 grams of carbon dioxide a kilometre.

The petrol version also has the odd cylinder count, however, it produces a more rorty 187kW, and 360Nm of torque sent to all four wheels. Fuel use is officially 8.4L/100km, with emissions of 198g/km. The all-wheel-drive system – similar to the fifth-generation system that underpins the larger XC60 – adds 0.3L/100km over the front-drive V40 using the same engine.

For the money, V40 Cross Country owners buy into a lifestyle car boasting rugged, off-roader looks and a raised height – the Cross Country sits 20mm higher than the V40, although ride height is only marginally higher at 120mm thanks to its beefed-up suspension – that makes it a bit more comfortable to drop into a seat.

The V40 Cross Country also features a more advanced version of Volvo’s City Safety automatic braking system that can now recognise the car in front, pedestrians, and even cyclists that step out in front of the vehicle.

Volvo’s V40 Cross Country will also now automatically jump onto the brakes at speeds of up to 50km/h – previous versions work up to only 30km/h – helping drivers either completely avoid or minimise a collision.

The car-maker has attempted to make the V40 Cross Country stand out from its donor car. This includes wrap-around black plastic bodywork that gives the impression the car sits higher off the ground than it does, black wing mirror housings, unique blackened 18-inch alloy wheels, a differently styled honeycomb grille, and vertical LED daytime running lights. The words “Cross Country” run across the tailgate.

It also has silver-look scuff plates inserted into the front and rear bumpers, dark window frames, and the height-bolstering aluminium roof rails.

Inside, the V40 Cross Country is a clone of its V40 sibling, apart from a descent control button on the all-paw T5 version that helps the car crawl down a slippery slope, and another “Cross Country” badge running along the top of the glovebox.

Being a Volvo, safety is foremost. The V40 Cross Country boasts eight airbags, including a driver’s knee airbag and yet another one that pops out from under the bonnet if front bumper-mounted sensors detect the car is about to hit a cyclist or pedestrian.

Volvo won’t put any numbers on how many buyers will jump behind the wheel of the V40 Cross Country, and will only say that it expects the car to be a niche player in the compact soft-roader segment, up against the likes of the much cheaper and lesser-equipped Subaru XV, and Mini’s only five-door hatchback in its range, the Countryman, that tops out at $59,150 before on-road costs.

However, Subaru’s XV prices out at a maximum of $36,990 and is a big seller for the brand, while the Mini Countryman, on average, sells fewer than 40 a month.

In contrast, Volvo’s V40 that forms the palette on which the V40 Cross Country is painted, has grown to become the Swedish brand’s third-best seller behind the class-leading XC60 and the decade-old XC90.

2013 Volvo V40 Cross Country pricing*
D4 Luxury (a)$47,990
T5 AWD (a)$52,990
*Plus on-road costs

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