Sportiness doesn’t have a great deal to do with power. Some of the worst sporting family-sized cars often pack quite a lot under the bonnet, then flounder when presented with a twisting country road.
But to the surprise of some observers, Volvo’s V40 has proved to be a satisfying drive, even in its humblest guises.
The kind of car indeed, that begs to be dressed appropriately, perhaps with the R-Design trim package that Volvo expects over 25% of UK customers to choose.
We could have opted for any variant in the V40 range in evaluating this R-Design package. In the event, we settled on a drive in the 177bhp D4 diesel model, good for sixty from rest in just 8.2s on the way to a 137mph maximum.
Like other models in the line-up, it delivers a very good compromise indeed of absorbent ride and assured handling composure, even if - or perhaps especially if - you don’t go for the optional Sports chassis set-up.
Engine-wise, most potential V40 diesel customers will probably be quite happy with one of the lesser V40 diesels, either the 115bhp D2 or the 150bhp D3.
In the entry-level D2 it’s no ball of fire of course - sixty takes 11.7s on the way to 118mph - but it’s as fast as most will need it to be.
Low mileage buyers need to factor in the possibility of petrol power too, especially if they don’t like the rather clattery diesel noise you get on start-up. T3 and T4 variants use a 1.6-litre four cylinder unit, respectively putting out either 150 or 180bhp, the most powerful version of which is good for sixty in 7.3s on the way to 140mph.
If that’s not enough, there’s a flagship 2.5-litre five cylinder T5 model putting out 254bhp, good to flash past sixty en route to 155mph.
So, what will set your V40 apart if you opt for it in R-Design trim? Well, let’s start outside where there’s a silk-metal framed high-gloss grille with re-profiled front bumper and daytime running lights.
The sporty stance is further enhanced with an ironstone rear diffuser, silk-metal finished details, twin exhaust tailpipes and five-spoke diamond-cut 17 or 18-inch alloy wheels.
R-Design is a trim package that Volvo has used on plenty of its models in recent years.
But with these cars, the sporty looks have often flattered to deceive when it came to the need for a dynamic driving experience.
Not here. Careful development of this car’s dynamic Focus-inspired underpinnings has left us with a car that even an enthusiast might enjoy.
This V40 doesn’t enjoy a huge price advantage over its German rivals but at the end of the day, it’s likely that the deal you’ll be offered on one will still leave enough room to specify your car with the R-Design treatment and still get away with a total asking figure that looks tempting in comparison with a rival 1 Series, A3 or A-Class.
A car you’d be proud to have on your driveway.