AS a nipper in a car-less family, I was fascinated with motors, especially those driven by hero-types on TV.So, along with the original Batmobile and James Bond’s gadget-filled Aston Martin, I was besotted with The Saint’s Volvo coupe.In tribute, this week I have donned the mantle of telly action man Simon Templar (originally played by Roger Moore before he became 007). This bout of serious small-screen motoring nostalgia was brought on by the latest test car loaned to Flush Magazine, the updated Volvo V40 R-Design… in sportiness, surely an heir to that TV car of yesteryear, the P1800. There’s a classic V-shaped bonnet, bold, expressive lines, wide shoulders, a dynamic profile and a muscular stance (the car, not me).
The R-Design gets a unique front with a silk-metal framed high-gloss grille, an ironstone diffuser, silk-metal finished details, twin exhaust tailpipes, and five-spoke diamond-cut alloys. That grille is low and wide in order to create a sporty, close-to-the-ground feel. The lower opening is surrounded at the corners by sculpted bodywork, stretching from one wheel arch to the other, adding character and directing airflow to improve aerodynamics.
Daytime running lights are set into the lower corners of the front end, sweeping upward from direct front view, and the ‘blade design’ of the front headlights creates an attractive light pattern in the dark. The roof silhouette contributes to the impression of leaning forward, eager to take off. The car is finished with a dynamically sculpted rear, with the lower area “blacked out” for an athletic, low and wide look.
In the cabin, there are new generation seats and detailing, including R-Design sports upholstery, floor mats and sports pedals and a leather-trimmed steering wheel with R-Design logo.Masters of ergonomics, the Scandinavian designers have created a spacious, ‘large-car’ feeling, aided by the wide instrument panel which flows into the door design. The full-length fixed sunroof, with powered blind, also helps give an airy atmosphere. Our car, a D2 Nav model in ‘rebel blue’ also boasted a hi-tech control centre with seven-inch colour screen, offering features including web browsing, voice-activated control and posh sat nav.Volvo have a long tradition of innovation in safety technology and the car had an array of gear – take City Safety, for instance, which senses potential collisions up to speeds of 31mph and applies the brakes accordingly. Then there’s the enhanced Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), which is radar-based. The technology senses any car alongside, on either side, and a light in the door mirror casing illuminates to indicate its presence.
I’ve sampled this system in a previous Volvo model, and it’s a real boon for driving safely. It can now also monitor and alert the driver to rapidly-approaching vehicles up to 70 metres behind the car. One of the most useful bits of kit is the rear view camera which chimes in on screen when reverse is engaged. With the car’s coupe-like profile the rear window is smallish and high, so the camera is a great aid. I reckon it should be standard on all makes of motor. And I also liked the speed limit info displayed on the speedometer face.The R-Design has lots of sporty appeal and offers an engaging drive, with fine handling and a ride that is suitably taut but without the seemingly pothole-seeking stiffness of some motors of this ilk.The 1.6-litre diesel engine was responsive and well-mated to the six-speed automatic transmission and, overall, the car delivers a well-judged balance of comfort and sporting ability.
I’m sure The Saint would have approved!
Make/model: Volvo V40 D2 R-Design Nav.
Technical: 1560cc, 115bhp four-cylinder diesel engine.
Performance: 0-60mph, 11.2 secs
Top speed, 118mph. Fuel: 72.4mpg (combined).
Emissions: 102g/km. Prices from: £18,940.
Model as tested, including options and accessories: £33,160.