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I'm a few weeks away from my V40 being delivered. I've owned a Volvo before but also had various other cars over the years so I came to make my decision not as a 'fan' but as a typical buyer.

Replacing my wife's rather tired Civic I test drove an new A3 and a new A class. Thought it might be interesting to share my experiences.

Audi A3 2.TDI (non-sport).

Usual Audi solidity. Very impressive engine, smooth, flexible and seriously punchy. You can feel the benefit of the lighter weight immediately with handling. The ride (on sensible wheels) was far better than other Audi's I've owned but the steering was twiddly light. The interior is rather low key but high quality. Would probably grow on you. I'd have needed a Sportback for boot size (which is getting pretty pricey) but the real killer for me was poor drivers seat comfort. Short seatback and no lumbar. No way I could have lived with it.

Mercedes A Class 200 CDI Sport (standard suspension)

Lots of showroom appeal, I liked the outside and the inside has some real flare, bit love it or loathe it especialy with all-black trim which made it rather claustrophobic (and terrible in the back). Again a nice engine, smooth and non-laggy but not quite as quick as the Audi. A nice steer, agile and quite sporty with a bit of steering feel. Ride quite chunky (the Sport suspension/big wheels must be borderline on UK roads) but two surprises; firstly lots of road/tyre noise (maybe because the engine is pretty quiet??) and secondly poor interior quality in places. Very nice steering wheel but awful illegible dials. Stitched leather door trim but the heater controls too low and decidedly flimsy and cheap. Seats were better than the Audi but biggest issue for me the narrow boot access. I carry bikes etc in the rear and this was really marginal because the lights intrude a great deal.

I did not drive a Giulietta (I've been bitten by Alfa's very badly in the past and never again) and the Golf Mk7 is not yet out-but I suspect will actually be the biggest challenger really. I did not consider the BMW 1 series-just not my thing. The A class is interestingly different, it will appeal to many and actually the pricing is not too bad either. In the end I went for the more attractive Volvo cabin, the great seats and decent load space/access but it was a tight call. I also expected to buy the D3 (on a par with the above for performance and economy) but the D2 so impressed me on a test drive I went for that.

Hope this is interesting

Bruce
 

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Thanks for that. Interesting write up. I was looking at the same options although my hand was forced as I needed to get a car this side of the new year which meant my choice was only the BMW 1 series (didn't want an old model of the others). What I like especially about the V40 is that there aren't (and probably won't) be as many on the road; it's nice to have something different. Also, after speccing the German cars to the same level they come out as more expensive. Very happy with the D3, although I know the D2 has a fantastic engine - I know someone at Ford who develops that engine and it's truly brilliant.
 

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Yeah, interesting topic.

I was looking at a totally different option - I considered the similarly priced 508 SW, being satisfied with my 406 Coupe. After test driving the 508 over a weekend I concluded the 508 was not for me - I did not need all the space on offer, I found the design less appealing, it lacked start/stop, the ride was surprisingly more choppy, the position behind the wheel inferior, the seats far less comfortable, the storage space inside so limited I could not find a place to put away my phone conveniently and although featuring a lovely sunroof free of charge, not impeding on headroom in contrast to the V40, it lacked city safety, which is a very important safety feature for me. Finally, it did not give that premium Volvo feeling. You get a much larger car in the 508 for same money, but because of above, I chose the V40. As of today, I do not regret it.

I did not consider the direct competition as I did not like the design of A3 or 1 series. Also, both were slightly more expensive. The A class was yet not available when I was placing my order - I plan to visit a Mercedes dealer, just to check it out.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Actually the Mercedes is not more expensive. I priced a 200CDI Sport with a fairly similar spec to my Volvo and the prices were pretty close. If you go crazy on the options this changes but the standard spec is quite generous. The additional costs will come because you certainly will not get discount (UK supply in particular is incredibly short at the moment) and the economy figures vs the equivalent Volvo engine are not as good. It does feel a smaller and (perhaps surprisngly) cheaper car inside too.

Volvo is in a slightly tight spot in the market I think, aiming (and pricing) at the level of the german premium marques rather than the Golf/Focus/Astra etc level. It is fairly competitive in there. I definitely get the 'something different' attaraction, but from the point of Volvo I'm sure they would prefer to sell serious volume.

Bruce
 

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I looked at a range of diesel cars from VW, Audi, BMW, Volvo, Mini, Mercedes.

Merc A class wasn't available to order back in July, but early reports I read suggested the interior was poor, I spend about 600-800hrs a year in the car, a poor interior would have been too much of a compromise - plus on paper emissions and fuel economy couldn't match the V40 D2.

Golf Bluemotion, the models available in July were poorly spec'd for the same money as the V40, but couldn't match the V40 for emissions and fuel economy or quality, that said the incoming models look like they might address some of these issues.

Mini Clubman - found it too small and impractical with the suicide door, Countryman wasn't economical enough, and emissions were too high.

BMW 1 series, nice drive, but not as good as my old 1 series though, lets face it the car is painfully ugly, interior uncoordinated with the screen sticking out of a gaping hole in the dash. Plus it's more expensive to lease than V40.

Audi A3 quality was good, it's a bit boring with no significant design innovation in 10 years, economy below V40 D2 and emissions too high, significantly more expensive to lease than V40.

Audi A1 again quality good, diesel engine extremely noisy and unrefined, it only has 5 gears... what's that about? The boot was only 1/3 larger than my daughters Fiat 500, fuel economy was only marginally better than my old BMW 1 series. Big diasappointment.... ditto for it's sister the VW Polo diesel - incidentally same cost to lease as V40 through my company.

Entry model BMW 3 series, Merc C Class and Audi A4 were all £7-9000 more expensive over the life of the lease, in lease and fuel costs and extra tax, I'd prefer to put that money somewhere else thanks. Additionally, spec on these cars was very poor vs my V40.

After weighing up all the options, V40 is gorgeous inside especially when spec'd with leather, ride and handling are very good, easily on a par with the A3... so here I am... a very happy V40 driver.
 

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I have a Countryman (but hopefully only for a week or so) and I can vouch for how uneconomical it is - barely 29 mpg. One of reasons I'm changing it. That and the fact I feel every bump......

Roll on economical and high comfortable V40 D2!
 
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