Snow on the uptake? No!
THE Volvo V40 Cross Country might just be the coolest-looking hatch on sale in the UK.
It's eye catching, well engineered, well equipped and the prices aren't exorbitant either. There's just one downside; only the priciest petrol model is all-wheel drive.
For a company from Scandinavia, Volvo was actually surprisingly slow its vehicles. The first Volvo product to direct drive to all four wheels was the 850 AWD in 1997, some 16 years after Audi showed how a Quattro could decimate all of its opposition on snow.
If Volvo was a little slow on the uptake then, it's been making up for lost time ever since. We've had some great Volvo all-wheel drivers, from the massively successful XC90 and XC60 SUVs through to cars like the more tarmac-orientated XC70.
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What is now the XC70 began its life at the turn of the century badged as the V70 Cross Country and Cross Country branding has now been given a place in the successful and increasingly desirable V40 compact five-door hatchback range, with a choice between 1.6 and 2.5 petrol and 1.6 and 2.0-litre diesel models. With beefier, jacked-up styling, these V40s look the part – but are they anything more than a branding exercise?
The only all-wheel drive model in the V40 Cross Country range is the top 2.5-litre T5 model, which is going to be the engine that nobody in the UK would normally opt for due to its fuel thirst. So where does that leave us with the rest of the range? With a bunch of front-wheel drive hatches. In other words, the Cross Country bit is really only applicable if someone has considerately laid a few miles of tarmac across said country first. That also means that the V40 Cross Country isn't going to feel too far removed from a normal V40. Still, given that the standard V40 is brilliant, that's not much of a criticism.
The ride height has been raised by 40mm to 173mm which means that speed humps and non-dropped kerbs aren't such an issue. Volvo has also gamely fitted Hill Descent Control to the T5 AWD version, which controls the car's speed automatically when driving down steep inclines. The T5 also has a practical Hill Hold function that makes starting on a hill easier. This model really is the only one to really warrant the Cross Country branding and with a 254bhp engine to power it, the T5 has the power to really entertain.
Even if you're not big on off-roading, it makes an awesome all-weather vehicle that will shrug off the worst of the British winter.
Of course, the car most people would want is a diesel with the all-wheel drive transmission but no luck there. There are three 2WD diesels on offer, starting with the 115bhp D2, moving up to the 150bhp D3 and topping out with the five-cylinder 2.0-litre 177bhp D4. There's also a front-wheel drive petrol option in the shape of the 1.6-litre 180bhp T4, which is well worth a look if you feel the all-wheel drive T5 is a bit of an extravagance.
You'll pay a £1,000 to get the Cross Country package on a standard V40, which many potential buyers will be tempted by. The only exception, as you might expect, is if you're comparing a T5 Cross Country 4WD model with a T5 2WD variant in the standard V40 range.
Here, there's a £2,500 premium for Cross Country ownership. Overall, prospective V40 Cross Country buyers can expect to find a price span ranging from around £23,000 to around £35,000. Whatever version you choose, there's the option of paying a further £2,000 premium on top of the standard asking price and graduating up from standard SE to LUX trim.