Volvo V40 Cross Country First Drive
The name suggests SUV but in reality the new Volvo is more an AWD version of the new hatch. It seems that Europeans like the idea of a more rugged, capable AWD variant of a popular model more than we do here in Australia where our love affair with SUVs shows no signs of abating. Volkswagen does it with the Passat Allroad and Audi with the A4 and A6 Allroad models.
Of course Volvo is no stranger to crossover vehicles with the Cross Country nameplate adorning a V70 back in 1997, offering consumers an alternative to the more serious at the time, XC70 and 90 off-roaders.
The Cross Country from a distance looks a lot like the V40, but there are a number of differences, most notably its higher stance. The ride height has increased by 40mm over the V40 and to give it a more rugged look, the hatch has been fitted with an alloy bodykit, larger 18in alloy wheels and a more open honeycomb grille. Roof rails are standard.
The wing mirrors are finished in black and vertical daytime running lights further set the Cross country apart, but you would have to be a keen Volvo train spotter to really pick up on the changes. Inside it's a similar story, with contrasting stitching on the standard leather seats, a compass positioned in the rear view mirror and amber lighting for the multi-function display, the only differences over the V40.
Engine choices are either the 130kW, 400Nm diesel or the 187kW, 360Nm petrol engine found in the sporty T5 R-design. Both engines are matched to Volvo's six-speed Geartronic DSG and the AWD system is a fifth generation Haldex system as seen in the XC60.
The Cross Country is available in the Luxury specification level only and prices start at $47,990 for the D4. The T5 is the most expensive V40 sold here at $52,990. A driver support pack is available at $5,000.
Like the V40, the Cross Country has the world's first pedestrian airbag as part of its extensive safety armoury, and Volvo's City Safety crash avoidance system now operates at speeds up to 50kms.
So, how does the AWD Cross Country drive? Well much like the V40, so no surprises there. The Haldex AWD system adds 120kg to the Cross Country, but with both engines delivering so much torque, on-road performance feels about the same, and only adds 0.3 of a second to the zero to 100km sprint for the 187kW T5. Similarly the ride feels firmer, like the T5 R-design, and they both share the larger 18in alloys. I prefer the T4 Luxury that I reviewed mid-year in terms of having the right balance between ride and handling and with the Cross Country there was the occasional crash through from the suspension on rutted sections of dirt roads that we encountered on the drive program west of Canberra.
The extra ground clearance will come in handy if you do venture down dirt roads but didn't appear to add any extra compliance to the suspension. The V40 and Cross Country are the first new Volvos fitted with electric power steering, and the system doesn't have the notchy off centre vagueness that affects some of the other brands.
What do we think?
Volvo executives were quick to point out at launch that the new Cross Country is very much a niche vehicle in the V40 scheme of things. Even finding competitors for the Cross Country isn't easy with Darrin Cargill, Volvo's product planner citing the Mini Countryman and Subaru XV as likely candidates.
The Countryman starts at $39,450 for the automatic diesel and the most expensive Subaru XV costs $36,990 well under the starting price of the Cross Country. A more capable V40, in certain conditions for sure, but it comes with a premium price tag.
|Model||V40 Cross Country|
|Body type||5-door hatchback|
|Country of manufacture||Germany|
|Priced from||$47,990 plus ORC|
|Number of cylinders||4|
|Engine size||2 L|
|Claimed fuel consumption||8.3 L/100km|
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