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v2Do you drive a company car?

Is it a Volvo V40?

No? Then go and tell your fleet manager that he is ruining your life.

From its release a few years ago the V40 has set new standards in safety, performance, economy and driving pleasure at a fair price and with some amazing lease options. If you have the imagination or opportunity to look beyond the capable but commonplace Golf, Focus and A3 you will find yourself in a car that will delight like few in this bracket.

While the pretty body resides on a Ford skeleton, I found the Volvo a more rewarding drive than its Focus donor when conditions allow for a little extravagance. This may be down to the steering being very direct and needing a little muscle, or possibly the eager and generous power of the 5 cylinder 2 litre diesel engine. Whatever it is, it meant I had to do a few laps of every roundabout I crossed.

Of course there are compromises – it is a definite 4-seater, and rear seats are not for anyone of over average height. Also the boot at a little over 330L is not the biggest, but the well-equipped and stylish cockpit has a fit and finish that by far out-blings the German offerings, and the seats are as smart and supportive as they look – ie very.

There are a lot of buttons in that cockpit, and it can take a while to navigate your way around them all, but these clever Swedes have done their homework and have found that buttons are less of a distraction than a touch-screen; they have set themselves the target of eradicating fatalities in their cars and this is one of the ways they hope to achieve this challenging goal.

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Among the stock-bling are Bluetooth and DAB, both of which should be standard on every car, but still are not. The fact that Volvo throws them at you without charging extra is just another reason why the marque is seeing a continuing increase in market share for this segment

Volvo’s reputation of heritage is of boxy and safe cars; they have clearly shunned the boxy aspect and most drivers under 30 will be oblivious to it, but on the safety front they remain the unchallenged leaders. Indeed the V40 was the safest car on the road until their own XC90 stole its crown. It remains a good place to be if you have to exchange insurance details.

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There are a flock of systems to help you avoid these moments however; BLISS lets you know if someone is in your blind-spot, the standard fitment front radar gives collision warnings and can perform emergency stops when needed. There are airbags in all the usual places as well as under the bonnet to provide pedestrian protection.

While the car is a small family affair it feels chunky and solid despite weighing less than 1.5 tons. This of course helps with performance and economy and the entire range boasts a very good power / pollution ratio. This D3 model quotes figures of 150Hp and 99g/km while giving a possible 65mpg. My experience was 52 mpg normal/fun, 61mpg with care.
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The most striking thing however is that it takes just a minute to forget that you are driving an eco-machine. The looks, toys, quality and driving pleasure of this car just make the whole experience so rewarding that it is only when you realise that you are passing-by yet another fuel station that you remember – only Miss Piggy gets more fun than this from going green.

Tech Spec –v5

Price – £24,595
Engine – 2.0-litre 5cyl turbodiesel
Power – 148bhp
Torque – 350Nm
0-60mph – 9.8 secs
Top speed – 130mph
Economy – 65.7mpg
CO2 – 99g/km

words and pics – Mark Wolens