Utterly gorgeous and supremely fun to drive, we get behind Volvo's fifth ever car to reach India, the V40 Cross Country. But does it have what it takes to make a mark?
There’s a lot to be said about Volvos these days. The Swedish company’s cars might be revered for their unprecedented levels of safety and engineering, but these days there’s much more to them which meets the eye, literally. Design wise, Volvo has taken quite a few dramatic leaps and heralding this change in way they do things have been the S60 sedan, in India at least. Pre-S60, what we got were pretty much Euro-boxes in terms of design, such as the S80 and the XC90.
These were brilliantly put together mind you, and were great to drive, but parked next to any of their Teutonic rivals, wouldn’t attract more than a flitter of attention. With the S60 and after, you have a paradigm shift in aesthetics from functional Mommy-wagons to more youthful and exuberant designs, almost futuristic to a certain extent, which do an incredible job looking distinctly different from anything else from Europe. After the S60, we got the brilliant XC60 soft-roader and now, the latest arrival from Sweden is another crossover, the V40 Cross Country, but the ‘Cross Country’ suffix seems like it might be in name only.
Say what you might, but at a quick glance, the V40 Cross Country does appear to have a few off-road genes ingrained into the design, most notable of which is the black plastic cladding that runs around the perimeter of the car.
Then there’s the aluminium cladding on the chin at the front and the massive aluminium bash plate on the rear bumper with the words “Cross Country” embossed boldly across. But all one has to do is look at the ground clearance and realise that this V40 really is what you might call a ‘low-flier’. Just about 145mm of ground clearance and massive front overhangs might be acceptable for a soft-roader in Europe, but in India, this kinda stuff just don’t fly.
Regardless of its actual off-road prowess, the V40 certainly is a stunning looking machine. The big two-part honeycomb grille, the vertical fog lamps, gorgeous 17-inch alloy wheels and an incredible combination of curves and straight lines across the design all ooze style from every angle. And then there are those gorgeously curvaceous tail lights which flow into the inward curved rump. This is one hatch that’ll draw as many eyeballs, if not more, than the current benchmark in premium hatchback design, the Mercedes-Benz A-Class.
If you though the V40 was stunning on the outside, just wait till you get in. Like we’ve said before, the design philosophy is very different from other European premium cars we’ve got to experience here in India and the interiors exude this visual language strongly. The interiors certainly aren’t overbearing from any angle.
There isn’t an excessive use of buttons or dials or knobs or screens. There’s just the right amount of everything that you actually need put together in a way that feels extremely well thought out. Premium plastics and leather surround the occupants with bits of brushed aluminium thrown in for good measure. Then there are those truly unique touches such as the frameless rear-view mirror, the sculpted X-Shape design seats and that illuminated gear selector which looks like its straight from the annals of J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek.
In fact, most of the interior design, such as the bronze floating centre console and the full-LCD instrument cluster might be more at home on the bridge of the starship Enterprise. And speaking of the instrument cluster, the LCD panel is customisable with three modes to choose from. Select ‘Performance’ and the circular dial displays engine RPM with red accents and a digital speed in the centre. The flanking gauges show power and engine temperature. There are two other modes available as well; ECO with blue accents and Elegance, with copper accents which match the car’s interior colour palette.
Then there’s that massive panoramic sunroof – its not openable, but you really wouldn’t care given the sheer size of it. Of course, it’s not like in the middle of all this pizzazz, practicality has taken a back seat. There are plenty of cubbies everywhere and the seats are exceptionally comfortable. That being said though, space at the back is nothing to write home about and spending more time than absolutely necessary on the second row wouldn’t really be a great experience for all but the tiniest of adults.