In order to say why I can’t really write about this I had to do some research. It’s amazing what you don’t read in magazines.
The V40 was introduced in 2012 for 2013 and all I noticed about it since then is the daft crease in the bodyside which is supposed to evoque the P1800. The V40 is a hatchback though Volvo describe it as an estate, I suppose. Whilst the designer of the 2004 S40 is probably only named in Auto&Design magazine, the V40 can claim Peter Horbury as its creator (cited at Wikipedia).
Some would say the V40 is dynamic and expressive. I find it a design I can’t look at for long as there seems to be so little there, underneath all the details. The predecessor, the 2004 S40 saloon and V40 estate manage to be simultaneously very Volvo indeed and to cleave to a classical Scandinavian modernism of which they might be the best recent exemplars. The S40 wheel arches are gently wider than they are tall but you have measure this to find out. Subtle.
The body side is nicely curved and the shoulder line recalls the 240 and 164 without seeming at all slapped on. There’s no wasted effort but the car is not dull. It’s handsome. The S40 nods to its ancestors but moves the Volvo line onward.
What can I say about the 2014 V40 except that it ends, for now, Volvo’s tradition of medium-sized saloons going back to the most excellent 340 and 360 (leaf springs!). And if you look at Volvo’s website you see that Volvo’s range is more V and X than S. Puzzling. The S40 sold very well indeed. It got nice reviews. Everyone said how good it looked inside and out. The successor turns its back on all that so as offer a pretty useless hatchback format and no possibility of regal saloon travel.
Whereas the S40 still catches my eye and pleases me the V40 doesn’t. The range does less than the 2004 S40/V40 did but offers three times as much styling to go about the job. There are dozens of crinkly, swirly over-styled medium sized cars out there. You’d have thought Volvo would and indeed could have resisted climbing that bandwagon.
I blame the motoring journalists who never quite get that car ownership is a long term prospect and that the quiet virtues of the 2004 S40 earned it a lot of admiration whereas the fussy dramatics of the 2014 V40 will just make people wonder why it can’t carry a fridge. Why? Because the lamps had to look expressive, that’s why.
What do you not read in magazines? That Volvo is not into saloons any more, barring the S80 and S60.