Is Volvo's all-new V40, which went on sale in Australia late last month, the world's safest car? For a small hatch, that's probably a big call. I would certainly prefer to be in the V40 in a collision with any other small car on the road, but even with today's technology you still can't go past the old saying of "big is best".
That said, the V40 not only scored the maximum five-star rating in its Euro NCAP collision test, it also recorded the best score yet awarded by the institute.
And it was not just the overall result in which it performed well - when it comes to providing protection for adult passengers it scored 98 per cent; another record.
Locally, it also was awarded the maximum five-star safety rating by ANCAP and was acknowledged as the "stand-out performer".
During the development of the V40 hatch, Volvo's goal was to build in the same safety level as its larger cars. To achieve this the Swedish car maker not only made sure it used the strongest steels available but also fitted the hatch with a host of cutting-edge, active safety systems that would help prevent it being involved in a crash.
These features include the ground-breaking Pedestrian Detection with full auto brake, a world-first pedestrian airbag and the latest generation of City Safe that works at speeds of up to 50km/h to prevent low-speed rear-end collisions.
And this is all in a car that has a starting price of $34,990, though if you want an automatic transmission you are going to have to jump up a couple of models and kick in an extra $7000.
If you want all the other safety features available you are going to have to reach deeper into your pockets, with many of them in the optional $5000 driver's support package. If you do add it you will get adaptive cruise control with collision warning and full auto brake, blind spot and cross-traffic alert, park assist pilot and a Driver Alert System that includes active high-beam, forward collision warning, a lane keeping aid, lane departure warning and road sign information.
The V40 will be available in three specification levels with the choice of two petrol and two diesel turbocharged engines, all with stop/start technology and regenerative charging to further reduce fuel consumption.
The petrol engines are five- cylinder 132kW 2.0-litre (referred to as the T4) and five-cylinder 187kW 2.5-litre (T5) units. Both only available with a six-speed Geartronic automatic transmission with sports mode.
Fuel consumption is 7.6 and 8.1L/100km respectively.
The diesel options are a 1.6 (D2) or a 2.0-litre (D4) turbocharged engine. The smaller of the two is a four-cylinder that generates 84kW and 270Nm, and is only available with a six-speed manual transmission. Fuel consumption is 4.2L/100km for the auto.
The top-of-the-range diesel is a five-cylinder 2.0-litre engine that produces 130kW and 400Nm and is available with the option of a six-speed manual or automatic.
The V40 is going to stir up the already hot premium small car market that has already seen the inclusion of the excellent Mercedes-Benz A-Class.
$34,990 (manual only)D4 Kinetic
$39,990 (manual)D4 Kinetic
$41,990 (auto)D4 Luxury
$45,990 (auto only)T4 Kinetic
$41,990 (auto only)T4 Luxury
$45,990 (auto only)T5 R-Design
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