Volvo V40 (2012-2019) Review

The Volvo V40 is a smart, safe and economical upmarket family hatchback

Strengths & weaknesses

  • Handsome styling, inside and out
  • Highly efficient D2 diesel engine
  • Very high crash safety rating - albeit in 2012
  • Poor residual values
  • BMW 1 Series better to drive
  • Automatic gearbox disappoints
Volvo V40 prices from £8,800.
Finance from £204.40 / month.

Used Volvo V40 prices from £8,800   Finance from £204.40 per month

Families who want to keep themselves safe on the road above all else are best off looking for a Volvo - the Swedish company is renowned for its impeccable safety record, and the Volvo V40 fits the stereotype. It may have been crash tested way back in 2012 - when the tests weren't so challenging - but there's no doubt it's one of the safest used cars of this age you can buy.

Thanks to a range of turbocharged petrol and diesel engines it also offers the prospect of strong fuel economy and has a smooth, flowing design that starts off at the front with Volvo's signature hammer-shaped daytime running lights, which help other drivers to see you even when your headlights are off.

The V40 is a less common alternative to upmarket German hatchbacks, including the Audi A3, BMW 1 Series and Mercedes A-Class, as well as more mainstream - and cheaper - cars such as the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra.

Back in 2012, independent crash-testers at Euro NCAP named the V40 as the safest car they had ever crash-tested, and although standards have progressed since then, you can still trust the V40 to look after you in a crash.

The Volvo was one of the first mainstream cars to incorporate a range of active safety technology such as lane-departure warning, which sounds an alert if you stray out of your lane, automatic emergency braking that can stop the car to avoid a crash, and a pop-up bonnet with an airbag to help reduce pedestrian injuries.

The engine range includes some efficient diesels that also offer plenty of power for motorway cruising, but it's not the car to choose if you want sporty performance or nimble cornering: that's more the style of the BMW 1 Series and Mini Clubman

Instead, the V40 is more like a Mercedes A-Class or Audi A3, with soft suspension that soaks up bumps and potholes effectively, offering more comfort but losing a sense of sharpness when you steer. The smooth ride is less impressive if you opt for a car with the larger 18-inch or 19-inch alloy wheels, which make the car more unsettled over bumps.

The Volvo's sense of comfort is boosted by the supremely comfortable seats - which are cosseting enough in standard fabric, let alone the leather facings of higher specification models. The interior is well finished but the button-strewn dashboard is more fiddly to use than the minimalist design of later Volvos, such as the V90 and XC90, as well as many rivals.

In particular, the dashboard screen is small and lacks the clarity that you'll find in a Volkswagen Golf, Audi A3, Mazda 3 or Hyundai i30.

An update in 2016 did bring some minor software updates, and introduced the hammer-shaped lights at the front of the car, but the interior space was left unchanged, which makes the V40 more cramped in the back than a Volkswagen Golf and Renault Megane.

Boot capacity is below average too: at 335 litres, it comes in a little below that of the 2012-2018 Mercedes A-Class (341 litres) and significantly smaller than the 2012-2020 Audi A3 (365 litres) and Volkswagen Golf (380 litres).

Another downside is the ‘Geartronic’ automatic gearbox, which is neither as smooth nor as efficient as the automatic offerings from Volkswagen and Audi. The V40 is particularly good value as a used car, though, so you should be able to get a newer, lower mileage or higher specification model than you might expect if buying a second-hand model.

There's also a V40 Cross Country model, that's offers two- and four-wheel drive and is slightly higher off the ground, to help it tackle off-road surfaces such as muddy fields and dirt tracks more effectively. It's a type of crossover, which combines the qualities of a hatchback and off-roader, but doesn't offer the high driving position of cars such as the Nissan QashqaiVolkswagen TiguanBMW X1 and Audi Q3.


Key facts

Warranty Two years/unlimited miles
Boot size 335 litres
Width 1,802mm
Length 4,369mm
Height 1,445mm
Tax £120 to £200 in first year, £145 thereafter / Pre-April 2017 cars: £0 to £130

Best Volvo V40 for...

Best for Economy – Volvo V40 D2 Plus

Volvo’s D2 diesel engine has reasonable performance, with an official fuel economy figure of more than 70mpg. You should only expect 50mpg in normal driving, but that still makes this V40 relatively cheap to run.

Best for Families – Volvo V40 D3 Momentum Nav Plus

Unless you’re really pinching the pennies, it’s worth moving up to the slightly more powerful D3 diesel, which is smoother when accelerating and quieter on motorways and engine for a more relaxing driving experience, particularly on motorways. Momentum Nav Plus adds parking sensors, sat-nav and cruise control to the basic specification.

Best for Performance – Volvo V40 T5 R-Design Pro

The fastest V40 takes 6.4 seconds to accelerate from 0-62mph, which is quick for a family hatchback, but not quite at the level of hot hatchbacks, such as the Audi S3. R-Design Pro trim brings a sportier design with lower bumpers, plus more supportive sports seats.

One to Avoid – Volvo V40 T2 Momentum

Higher specification models have a comfortable and upmarket interior, though entry-level versions have a sense of cost-cutting. As a result , spending a little more on a mid-spec version - such as the Momentum Nav Plus - feels like a wise move as you gain sat-nav, cruise control and parking sensors.


  • April 2012 All-new Volvo V40 hatchback goes on sale
  • September 2012 Sporty R-Design trim level joins the range
  • March 2013 Lower-emission D2 diesel and T2 petrol engines added to range
  • March 2013 Recall of 1,500 Nov ’13 - Mar ’13 V40s for software malfunction
  • February 2014 Further emissions and fuel economy improvements
  • June 2016 Updated design introduces the hammer-style lights at the front of the car, and brings some minor software updates, plus more wheel and interior design options. ES and SE trim levels are replaced with Momentum and Inscription.

Understanding Volvo V40 names

Engine D2 120

The V40 is available with a choice of petrol and diesel engines. 'T' indicates a petrol engine, and 'D' for diesel, and a higher number indicates the amount of power, the T2 engine is the least powerful petrol engine, and the T5 is the most powerful. The engine's horsepower (120) is often indicated alongside this, too.

Trim level Inscription

The amount of standard equipment fitted to your V40 will depend on the trim level that you choose. Momentum is the most basic, followed by Inscription, R-Design and then R-Design Pro.

Gearbox Geartronic

The V40 is available with either a manual gearbox or Volvo’s six-speed automatic transmission, which it calls Geartronic.

Volvo V40 Engines

Petrol: T2, T3, T5 Diesel: D2, D3, D4

The vast majority of Volvo V40s sold are diesel, and a quick glance at the figures reveals why. Even the entry-level D2 gets from 0-62mph in a respectable 10.5 seconds, and has an official fuel economy figure of more than 70mpg, as well as company car tax-friendly CO2 emissions of under 99g/km.

Officially, and in real life, the more powerful D3 and D4 diesel engines offer similar fuel economy but better performance, so choosing them is simply a matter of deciding whether faster and smoother acceleration is worth paying extra for to you.

Until recently, the V40's petrol engines looked a little redundant next to the impressive diesels, but the prospect of extra diesel charges and taxes in the coming years, could make them more appealing.

As with the diesels, you can discount the official 50mpg figure: the Equa Index estimates that all of the petrol engines will return around 35mpg. It's a considerable drop from the diesels, but these V40s are cheaper to buy in the first place. Low mileage drivers, in particular may find that the lower purchase price outweighs the extra fuel cost.

The T2 and T3 engines feel very similar to drive, with little performance difference, but the more expensive T5 is rapid, with acceleration from 0-62mph in 6.4 seconds.



Official fuel economy [Auto]


Acceleration (0-62mph)

Top speed



50.4 mpg [51.4]


9.8 secs




50.4mpg [51.4]


8.3 secs






6.4 secs




78.5mpg [72.4]


10.5 secs




74.3mpg [68.9]


8.4 secs




74.3mpg [67.3]


7.4 secs


Volvo V40 Trims

Momentum, Momentum Nav Plus, Inscription, R-Design, R-Design Pro

If you believe Volvo's claims about the V40 being a premium car, then you might be a little disappointed if you see it in entry-level Momentum specification, with its miniature five-inch dashboard screen.

The most basic V40s are fitted with 16-inch alloy wheels, climate control, a leather steering wheel, digital radio and Bluetooth for connecting a phone wirelessly, but it feels a little sparse. Even if, underneath the surface, every V40 is equipped with a raft of safety systems, including seven airbags - plus one for pedestrians, an automatic emergency braking system and Isofix mounts for safely securing a child seat in the rear two seats.

Momentum Nav Plus cars increase the size of the screen to a more legible seven inches, adding sat-nav, cruise control and parking sensors. They also come with an upgraded sound system, making them a more appealing choice than Momentum versions.

Inscription models feel notably more luxurious, thanks to their leather seats and aluminium trim. A front centre armrest, rear reading lights, and automatic windscreen wipers are included. Alloy wheels are also increased in size to 17 inches.

R-Design cars look sportier, thanks to their lower bumpers and silver highlights outside. More supportive fabric sports seats are added, but the lack of leather, sat-nav, parking sensors and cruise control make these cars slightly cheaper than Inscription versions.

At the top of the range, R-Design Pro cars are fitted with those missing features, including leather sports seats, and bigger 18-inch alloy wheels too which give a firmer and sportier feel, which is no good if you're after a more relaxing drive, in which case Inscription trim is likely to be your best option.

An array of option packs were sold alongside the varying trim levels. You may want to keep an eye out for the Winter Pack in used examples, as this includes heated front seats, a heated windscreen and headlight cleaning jets.

If you're after the most luxurious V40, you may want to focus on models with the Xenium Pack, which features powered front seats, a panoramic sunroof, a rear-view camera and a self-parking system.

It’s worth looking for cars that were upgraded with Volvo’s Intellisafe Pro - a technology package that includes adaptive cruise control, which maintains a set distance from the car in front, and improved automatic emergency braking that can detect pedestrians and cyclists. It also features a lane keep assist system that helps to keep you in your lane, and a camera that can highlight the speed limit of the road you’re on.

Volvo V40 Reliability and warranty

Volvo projects an image of solid Scandinavian durability, which is borne out by customer experiences with the V40. The car was praised highly in the 2015 edition of Auto Express magazine’s Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, being rated 16th out of 200 cars for reliability, 30th for build quality and 16th overall. However, it has slipped significantly since then, ending up in the bottom half of the 2019 Driver Power survey.

It’s slightly disappointing, therefore, to find that Volvo offers no more than the industry standard three years or 60,000 miles of warranty cover. Fortunately, the V40’s very reasonable reliability record means there should be little chance of unexpected bills, even if you do decide to keep the car after the guarantee has expired.

Used Volvo V40

The Volvo V40 depreciated sharply in its first year on the road – this is the case for almost every new car, but the effect is particularly pronounced here. Depending on exact mileage and condition, year-old V40s could be purchased for a remarkable two-thirds of their original list price. The curve flattens out after that, which points to the 12-month mark as being the smartest point to buy a used example - as you can get a nearly new car for far less than the list price.

If you’re after a petrol, you could be looking for a while, as diesel V40s outsold petrols by a significant margin, so there are a lot more of them to choose from on the secondhand market. The same is true of the higher trim levels: it is possible to find a high-spec used V40 for a good price, but many new buyers stuck to the better-value ES and SE versions, so R-Designs and SE Luxes are few and far between.