Auto Review: 2017 Volvo V40 D4 Inscription (Polestar)

WHAT do you think of when you hear the name Volvo? The “It’s boxy but good” comment made by Dudley Moore in 1990’s  movie Crazy People? Do you think of people driving slow in the fast lane, or changing lanes without looking and being totally oblivious to the world around them? White gloves and hats?

Well that may have been true at one stage, but the V40 (especially with Polestar enhancements) has certainly changed our minds on a number of levels. Forget any preconceived ideas about the brand you may have had, you can throw those out the window.

Take the technology for instance – it has a dial pad for phone calls on the dash, which feels a little old school but modern at the same time. This same dial pad also allows you to choose your pre-set radio stations as well.

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Your phone will never need to come out of the console, making it much less likely that you will suffer any police displeasure or attention. We also found the Bluetooth set up to be very easy – even for the more technology challenged amongst us.

For the safety conscious there are lane keeping aids, potential accident warnings, speed sign alerts on the dash -all without the need to have SatNav running. There’s also blind spot information and Driver Alert Control that will gently alert you with some small noises if you’re driving behaviour shows signs of distraction or tiredness.

There is even an App that you can download called Volvo On Call. This will allow you to do things like pre-heat your car remotely using the parking heater in the car, check your car’s status, lock and unlock doors remotely and you can even, at the push of a button on your phone, alert the Volvo On Call centre if assistance is necessary.

But wait there’s more. Do you also want your passengers to have a stable internet connection whilst in the car? The same system can oblige by providing a stable internet connection via the car’s roof antenna and turns your Volvo into a Wi-Fi hot spot for everyone in your car. It does use your data so you’ll need to make sure that your phone plan is up to the strain of extra users.

Oh and let’s not forget the park assist as well, for those of us who may find reverse parking a little challenging – we found it works quite well, making parallel parking easy.

All this technology makes the interior of the V40 a very comfortable place to be, especially when you factor in the leather seats, which are nice and very comfortable. The only improvement we would make is seat cooling as well as heating. The very good climate control system does make up for not having cooled seats a little though.

The driver’s seat is all-electric and has three driver memory settings available, that are easy to program. The passenger also has an electric seat and the trim on the seats, dash and doors have a quality, expensive feel. The steering wheel has up and down and in and out adjustment making driving the car comfortable for everyone.

For those who love to play their music loud, or even just love to listen to their music while driving, the available audio upgrade is a Harmon Kardon premium sound system, which has 10 speakers and sound enhancement technology. Perfect for the Audiophile.

The electronic dash set up is quite good too, with everything in easy reach of the driving position, with nothing hidden. Any buyer of this vehicle will need to spend a little time getting their head around the dash and the many buttons, but it’s pretty intuitive, just don’t be afraid to push the buttons to see what happens.

If you’re a little afraid of random button pushing, there is an operations manual built into the computer on the dash.

As a hatchback, the size of the car also means there is not a lot of leg room or head room for your rear passengers, and realistically we could not fit three adults in the back seats comfortably. If you are a little shorter than the average height (180cm) then you might be okay, but anyone taller would need to sit in the front to take advantage of the ample leg and head room in the forward half of the car.

It’s a brilliant car for your average family of four (the two adults two kids average), and the luggage area is also pretty generous with 335 litres of space with the 60/40 split seats down. Even with passengers in the back seats there is still plenty of room for bags for the weekend away or the weekly shop.

The outside, like the inside, is of a very high quality. The 2017 Volvo V40 D4 Inscription (with Polestar bits) comes with low profile tyres and 19-inch alloys, giving the car a sporty look and good handling as well. It looks the goods.

More importantly, it can back up those looks with a punchy 2-litre turbo 140kW, 190bhp diesel engine that is responsive and surprisingly peppy (and thumps 400Nm of torque in there too). There are also the 8-speed Geartronic gearbox as well as a 6 speed manual gearbox available (our tester was the auto).

It just looks good. One comment we received when out and about was “Wow is that really a Volvo? It’s really nice”.

On the down side, the car’s turning circle is pretty poor, in fact it’s downright ordinary. This could make tight car parks and parking spots tricky, but not impossible. The view from the rear window is also smaller than we would like, but it fits in with the styling and the reversing camera make up for this to a certain degree.

Overall though, the ride quality is good if not a little stiffer than expected, but then on a car that is this sporty it’s pretty good. The driving position is really comfortable making the whole experience pleasant and fun. Its got the get up and go you need when you plant the go-fast pedal, with minimal turbo lag.

It’s punchy and responsive, and Sports mode is outstanding (it will lose you your licence if you’re not careful). The steering, like a lot of power assisted steering, lacks feedback thanks to being front wheel drive, but it’s not bad.

Engine noise, as expected from a turbo diesel, is there but not too intrusive and only really noticeable when sitting at the lights. In fact it has quite a nice hum at speed. The car is easy to drive, comfortable and has the grunt when you need it, but is restrained and well behaved in traffic.

Highways are a joy and the cruise control will also adjust your speed to match the car in front, again making it easy to live with and the journey less stressful. This is definitely a pleasant surprise and the one to buy if you’re looking for a suitable daily driver that ticks almost all the boxes (with one exception – see the price below – it’s a lot of coin for this car).

It would be a great little city commuter, as well as a great car to get away with on the weekend. At least one member of our road test team would be happy to have one in the garage. It retails for a little over $60,000 plus on-roads (yes it’s pricey), and our test vehicle came with the Convenience Pack and Driver Support Pack (as well as the tweaked up Polestar componentry).

On the colour range front, the car we tested came to us in Denim Blue and is also available in Passion Red, Ice white, Electric Silver, Black Stone, Flamenco Red, Raw Copper, Crystal White Pearl, Bright Silver, Onyx Black, Luminous Sand, Mussel Blue and Osmium Grey.

Our 2017 Volvo V40 D4 Inscription (Polestar) was supplied by Volvo Australia. To find out more, contact your local Volvo dealer.

Tony Cavanagh
Tony Cavanagh
Tony Cavanagh has always had a thing about cars. He usually owns two at a time (there may also be a motorbike in the garage as well). Excessive maybe, but a car guy is a car guy. He's driven everything from Minis (the original ones) to V8 Commodores and 4WDs, as well as little go fast Japanese buzz boxes and hot hatches. He loves everything automotive, and doesn't have a clear favourite – yet.


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