The new Volvo V40 utilises the Ford Focus in pre-production

In a bid to streamline production Volvo’s latest offering, the V40, utilises the Ford Focus as a starting point for production of its new model in Ghent, Belgium. It’s nothing new to share resources, with the Audi A3 and VW’s Golf merged platform seen as an example of leading the way in companies pooling resources.

With the Focus acclaimed as the benchmark for family hatchbacks in addition to being a bestseller Volvo has chosen a good starting point. But the company will be anxious to avoid being labeled a copycat of the Scandinavian model. Hence, a lot of work has gone into the design and engineering side of the V40 to give it a unique identity combining a range of safety factors coupled with strong design and aesthetics.

Volvo buyers will be looking forward to August, when they can place orders for the new V40 for September delivery. The new model is priced from just under £20,000 and will be a welcome addition to the hatchback range, especially for families seeking a well priced vehicle away from the luxury range.

The trend for high roof design is gone and its designers have instead opted for a sleeker and lower look. Volvo’s iconic “badge” looks solid enough on the 14ft frame and the frontage appeals with deep creasing, black grills and well designed headlights.

While not unexpected, Volvo has done a lot of work in safety issues including airbags, inflatable curtains and pretensioned safety belts. A predictive laser based braking system are also featured which can stop the vehicle if impact is sensed up to a speed of 31mph. Volvo has always placed an emphasis on safety and this new model is certainly no exception.

Other safety features which are optional extras include the pedestrian identification system; radar based technology which senses a person walking close by and brakes appropriately. A part of the system includes an under-bonnet airbag which will lessen the impact and potential injury in any imminent collision.

Cruise control, which keeps your speed appropriate to the traffic conditions and a reversing sensor to warn of impacting traffic are also included in a comprehensive list of added safety features.

Although the safety features are impressive, there’s no sacrifice in terms of comfort and style. Comfortable seats and a roomy and pleasant interior give you a feeling of stability and the ample storage space is an added bonus.

Granted the rear seats are a little less roomy and it would be a bit of a struggle for taller or bigger people, especially sliding feet into where the C-pillars match up to the doors. The boot luggage space is impressive and easily the biggest in its market. A huge 335 litres, it utilizes a double floor so that luggage can easily be stacked.

The front console merges old styles with new, with a floating console inherited from the larger Volvos. The is a good move, except the V40 version feels a little cramped with dials and switches in a confused order. The center screen, while optional is recommended for its simplicity and impressive design.