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The Volvo V40 T2 R-Design is the racier alternative.

12/11/2016 - 05:50

Volvo's perky little V40 T2 hatchback gets a sporty update with an R-Design makeover and it looks even smarter.

The performance-oriented bits for the Volvo V40 T2 R-Design include a stylish bodykit with a new rear diffuser, twin exhausts and five-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels.

On the inside, there are new-generation R-Design seats with more support but also more cushioning. Also standard is the panoramic glass roof, as well as specific R-Design aluminium trim around the cabin.

Under the bonnet of this compact hatchback is the same 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine as the conventional T2. This turbocharged unit produces just 122 hp and 220 Nm, thus slotting it neatly into COE Category A. It drives the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission.

Given the relatively small displacement, zero to 100 kmh is hardly scintillating at 9.8 seconds. But accelerating to 60 kmh - eminently more useful in Singapore's urbanised context - is more successful. The V40 easily outpaces many other cars but it also runs out of breath soon after.

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What is interesting, though, is that the R-Design comes with a sportier Dynamic chassis setting, versus the usual T2 Touring chassis. This means stiffer damping for the front MacPherson strut and rear multi-link suspension set-up.

Throw the V40 in a sweeping bend and it carves around it sweetly. The Volvo hatchback is well-balanced enough so that it feels planted and confident.

The steering is accurate enough with sufficient feedback to make it an involving drive. There are no steering wheel-mounted shift paddles but the gear lever can be used to make manual changes.

The transmission itself has an "S'' position to keep the revs bubbling for more dynamic driving behaviour; there is no drive mode selector with Sport or Normal options.

The V40 cabin also makes do without the usual touchscreen found in almost all new cars these days. There is just the usual small Volvo display in the centre console for the audio.

It does, however, have the familiar eight-inch Adaptive Digital Display in the instrument binnacle with a choice of Elegance, Eco and Performance graphic themes. Exclusive to the R-Design are the cool blue dials in Elegance.

Also special for the R-Design are safety features such as lane departure warning with land keeping aid (the steering wheel vibrates when you stray onto the white lines), forward collision warning (when a red lamp flashes off the windscreen) and road sign information.

Compared with the conventional V40 T2, the R-Design comes at an S$8,000 premium. But it is certainly worth it for the snazzy and sporty upgrades.

Volvo V40 T2 R-Design

Engine 1,498cc inline-4 turbocharged

Gearbox 6-speed automatic transmission

Max power 122 hp @ 5,000 rpm

Max torque 220 Nm @ 1,600-3,500 rpm

0-100 kmh 9.8 secs

Top speed 190 kmh

CO2 emissions 129 g/km

Average OMV S$25,000

Price S$139,999 (with COE)

Distributor Wearnes Automotive T.6473-1488