People who believe that Volvo’s corporate image of safety is grossly overused might have to think again.
There is no rival to safety when pitching a car sale, and Volvo will always be proud of this legacy of protecting its owners, and which no doubt is also one of the biggest reasons why it enjoys generations of patronage.
Thus, when the Scandinavian firm rolled out its latest model—the V40 hatchback—at the Geneva Motor Show last year, Volvo presented another trailblazing concept on safety. Only this time, it was increasing the chances of a pedestrian surviving an accident by introducing the world’s first pedestrian airbag combined with a pop-up bonnet.
Why Volvo would dig deep into its R&D heritage to even take pedestrian protection seriously is predictable given its resolute corporate commitment to safety. As expected, there are more than enough upgrades from the V40’s predecessors—the S40 saloon and V50 estate—that make this new release one of the hottest in the market.
Late in June last year, Volvo, through its local distributor Viking Cars Inc., took journalists to that famous Italian city of Verona for a test drive of its first foray into the premium or executive hatchback category.
During the press preview for the V40, it looked like Volvo wanted the perfect place to fall in love, and Verona—blame it on the Shakespearean settings for classics such the Romeo and Juliet’s love story—was it.
V40, an object of desire?
After flooding the market with class-leading big SUVs like the XC90 and XC60, Volvo is now in that exciting market where small is big, offering a 5-door hatch carrying all the necessary technologies—cutting-edge as all auto manufacturers would love to claim—that can make driving and riding enjoyable, and most importantly, safe.
The things that make the V40 “lustful,” if Shakespeare could be quoted, is the elegant Scandinavian design that lends that luxurious look. Or it could be the very comfortable interior feel that puts you “in a world of pure imagination,” to borrow a line from that famous song. There’s also the flexible loading room that should finally bury the wagon-style cargo space into oblivion with the kind of technological advancements that can be used more in defense than offense.
Volvo says the V40 is by far the safest hatch in its segment, and perhaps it is hard to dispute that claim.
There are 22 safety features on the specs list, and as if pedestrian detection it introduced several years back was not enough, the V40, which is assembled at Volvo’s Ghent factory in Belgium, became talk of the motoring world with the pedestrian airbag.
This design installs seven motion sensors in the front bumper that sends feedback to the onboard ECU, triggering the airbag release and providing the pedestrian some form of protection in the event of an unavoidable accident.
Safety system upgraded
Volvo’s City Safety system has also been upgraded to operate at speeds up to 50 kph from the previously 30 kph. Other features are the Park Assist Pilot for parallel parking, Lane Keeping Aid, enhanced Blind Spot Information System, Cross Traffic Alert to warn the driver of approaching traffic while the V40 is being reversed, Road Sign Information, Active High Beam, Adaptive Cruise Control/Distance Alert and Driver Alert Control.
“The safety systems are intelligent and work together to make driving more pleasant and safe. They are designed to warn about threats. If necessary, they can also step in and intervene in critical situations. And, in some situations when the collision is unavoidable, there are safety features to help mitigate the consequences.
“However, this does not mean that these sophisticated systems take over the driving. Their main task is to assist the driver, thereby making the driving experience more comfortable and less complicated,” Volvo Car Corp. senior safety advisor Thomas Broberg explained.
As a result, the V40 got the top rating of five stars in the Euro NCAP collision test, the best ever recorded by the institute.
At the cockpit, the patented Volvo Sensus adds to the joy of driving the V40. Vital information is readable on a five-inch or seven-inch color screen in the instrument panel and the functions can be operated from the steering wheel or via controls located directly below the color screen.
As it has become standard for the cars of this generation, Bluetooth connection of the V40 enables wireless communication and allows not just hands-free phone conversation but superb entertainment from the latest music gadgets, making the test drive of the V40 a pleasure.
Even with a hatch as small as the V40, cargo loading is surprisingly comfortable with basic space in the back at 11.8 cubic feet plus a little more from the recessed space beneath the main floor. Folding the rear seats flat and tipping the front passenger seat forward bring the total load space to an amazing 51.0 cubic feet.
Up for a big challenge
The V40 is up for a big challenge as it battles the BMW 1 Series, the Audi A3, the Lexus CT 200h and the soon-to-be-launched Benz A-Class. The premium hatchback market that remains so unpredictable to this very day is in for some interesting action.
All said, there remains one unique reason to ride the V40-every day is a V Day.
The all-new Volvo V40 will be available locally in a four cylinder, 1.6-liter GTDi engine T4 with 180 horsepower and offers a maximum torque of 270 Nm, including 30-Nm overboost. The V40 sells for P2,288,888 and is available in the following colors: Biarritz Blue, Misty Blue, Black, Passion Red, Titanium Grey and Ice White.