There are those for whom the normal 5-door hatch just won’t do. Something more needs to be added to mix to really be an enticing proposition. And its why Volvo created the original Cross Country versions of their ‘normal’ cars in the first place.
The extra ruggedness does have an appeal, just ask the many crossover buyers that flat out say no to a 5-door hatch for a higher-riding SUV with arguably the same capabilities, engines, and space.
This V40, then, despite its beefed up looks and raised ride height, should be something of a known quantity. But because of its higher suspension, visibility is improved, and buyers can be a little more liberal with the terrain they take it on, if only slightly so.
It will go against rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack, Mercedes-Benz GLA, and MINI Countryman. The V40 hatch was already considered to be a very safe, handsome, desirable, well made, fun to drive all rounder of a car, but can Volvo add a spice of crossover without ruining the standard car’s consummate appeal?
“V40 Cross Country creates a niche among Volvo’s line-up with its jacked-up stance and off-road makeover.” - Motoring.com.au
Volvo hasn’t laid on the SUV styling cues too thickly, and the Swedish outfit has only really messed about with a few choice areas to cultivate a more adventurous appearance.
There’s all-round dark protective cladding that runs the car’s over perimeter, subtle roof rails, a metal front and rear skid plate, and of course a raised suspension that does give the car a little more ground clearance than the hatch.
They haven’t gone overboard, and as a result, the CC is nearly as sharply styled as the V40 always has been, with its graceful lines, aerodynamic shape, and sporty stance.
Engine and Drivetrain
“The T5's all-wheel-drive system has eliminated the wheel spin and torque steer seen in its two-wheel-drive cousin, lending the car a welcome level of stability.” - Drive.com.au
The V40 Cross Country borrows its engine line-up from the V40 hatch. This is unsurprising but no sour point for us as the V40 has some of the best engines in the business - efficient, smooth, and powerful - though it is a more limited selection here.
While the V40 hatch receives a total of 5 powertrain options, the Cross Country has three, comprising of two petrols and a diesel. Starting with the oil burner, it’s the D4 turbodiesel four-cylinder that delivers 140kW and 400Nm from its 2.0-litre displacement. Volvo claims 4.5-litres/100km over a combined cycle and is by far the most efficient of the bunch. Quite accelerative too, able to propel the V40 Cross Country to 100km/h in 7.5 seconds.
Sadly, though, the D5 is the only engine choice that doesn’t come with all-wheel drive, leaving these particular rugged-looking V40’s hamstrung if brought out afield. That odd choice of privilege is reserved only for the petrol variants.
The T4 and T5 are both 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinders too, but tuned to 140kW/320Nm and 180kW/350Nm, respectively. And armed with all-wheel drive traction off the line, the range-topping petrol can sprint to 100km/h in just 6.1 seconds, quicker than the V40 hatch with the same engine.
All V40 Cross County models come with an 8-speed Adaptive Geartronic automatic transmission with Sports Mode with standard paddle shifters.
“…even after a recent facelift, the interior of the V40 is feeling very dated. The dashboard is cluttered with buttons, and while it feels well built, it’s nowhere near as modern as the one you’ll find in a Mercedes GLA.” - Auto Express
Unlike the V40 hatch with came with two more trim levels, the V40 Cross Country is only available in the more premium Inscription grade. The cabin itself feels upmarket, with a good spread of soft touch and high quality materials throughout, and put together very well.
Volvo does have a way to go to match the standards of Audi in the interior build and solidity arena, but then so does Mercedes-Benz and BMW. The V40 does feel better put together than the GLA-Class, actually, and its modern and logical dashboard gives it a more austere feel to the flashier, though unfocused experience in the Merc.
The leather seats, like the V40s, are very comfortable, though large or particularly tall rear passengers may struggle during long journeys, made worse by the rather upright orientation to the second row seats - the Golf Alltrack certainly trumps it for rear passenger comfort and space.
To help ferry the various cargo carried by the adventurous sort of people that Volvo is aiming this Cross Country at, there is an adequate (if unremarkable) 324-litres of boot space. As this car is only offered as a hatch whereas the competition are fielding their rugged versions as wagons, the Swedish car is outmatched significantly immediately.
Behind The Wheel
“…isolation isn’t something you get from the suspension. At pretty much any speed, on any road, this car amplifies bumps to the extent that apparently shallow ripples become canyon-like when the tyres crash over them.” - Autocar
The higher ride height - and consequently higher centre of gravity - has done little to temper the inherently talented chassis. It still does ride very comfortably, like the hatch, but is understandably less sharp on turn in and quick direction changes.
The V40 Cross Country’s Ford Focus underpinnings may give it some added advantage at certain times, but the act of throwing the car into a twisty set of corners makes it clear that this isn’t where it likes to be, though it admittedly does acquit itself well enough with body roll and front end grip.
At higher speeds, though, such as on a highway, is where the comfort-oriented suspension, excellent noise insulation, and smooth engine make for rapid and luxurious pace.
Safety and Technology
“As you’d expect, the V40 Cross Country is loaded with a full suite of tech heavy safety inclusions…There’s plenty of tech in terms of driver infotainment too,” - CarAdvice
The V40 hatch scored a nearly flawless 36.67 out of 37 score from ANCAP, earning it a 5-star safety rating, and there’s no reason why the Cross Country with an identical mechanicals and structure should fare any less well in the event of a collision.
It also comes equipped with a generous suite of active safety systems to prevent an accident from even happening and is one of the first cars to come with autonomous emergency braking, which is now standard fit across all variants.
The Sensus infotainment unit with navigation, accessed through a 7-inch touchscreen LCD, works well and is quite intuitive to operate. It integrates very nicely with the futuristic digital instrument cluster for a genuinely useful and visually impressive system. A gripe, though, is that it lacks the more sophisticated operation allowed through the portrait-oriented screen in Volvo’s newer cars and doesn’t include support for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, something rivals are already including.
If a 5-door hatch is a little too predictable or if the constraints or if you pine for more options in terrain, the V40 Cross Country might be the car you want on your shortlist. More rugged in appearance but every bit as comfortable and luxurious on the inside as the V40, but with more visual edge and, if you chose one with all-wheel drive, added traversal options and better traction in the wet.
It’s also very safe and loaded with technology features not common in competitors. And while it may be nearly as fast and fun to drive as the V40, and matched to its supreme highway cruising capability, rivals do offer more by way of pure practicality. Should you not consider a very large boot to be a deal breaker, the V40 Cross Country well worth anyone’s consideration.
AutoExpress - 3/5 - “The Volvo V40 Cross Country remains good to drive and cheap to run, and it’s all the more appealing thanks to this round of mid-life updates. However, the faux-4x4 styling means it’s still more show than go, and – unless you opt for the top-spec T5 – four-wheel drive isn’t even an option.”
Autocar - 2/5 - “In essence this is the same Volvo V40 as before with off-road styling tweaks, to give it a more rugged appeal similar to the way the XC70 was the go-anywhere version of the V70.”
CarAdvice - 8/10 - “The V40 Cross Country delivers on a promise Volvo always seems to conjure up – that is a unique feel and flavour for what is effectively a small hatchback. The potency of the performance on offer counteracts the understated maturity of the elegant cabin design.”
Drive.com.au - “The Volvo V40 Cross Country is not an SUV, a hot hatch or full size family wagon. It's a tough car to pigeonhole, but one that may just hit the spot for drivers looking to purchase a European hatch unlike any other.”
Motoring.com.au - “While I emerged quite a fan of the V40 Cross Country’s niche character, I question the price tag that its jacked-up ride and rugged trim command. Having said that, I must confess that it’s these very attributes that attracted me to the model in the first place.”