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Verdict: Volvo V40 defines what a crossover should be

July 16, 2013 09:47 IST

Verdict: Volvo V40 defines what a crossover should be

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Arup Das


Contrary to what market sales figures seem to be indicating, automobile companies are busy launching one new model after another.

Much has been said about Germany's "Big Three" (Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz) dominating the luxury segment, but the reliable Swedish company, Volvo, has quietly pulled a rabbit out of the hat and has introduced the enticing V40 Cross Country.

This vehicle is significant not only for the car manufacturer and its image but also for the segment because it reignites the crossover craze in a field heavily dominated by sedans.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Volvo

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Verdict: Volvo V40 defines what a crossover should be

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The crossover has been around for over a decade. As no one was inspired enough to come up with a suitable name for such a vehicle, the term has stuck on.

In the most basic term, a crossover is a synthesis of the brawny sports utility vehicle (SUV) and the normally appealing sedan.

Crossovers started off as cars for soccer moms - the harried breed from American suburbia, who packed their frumpy minivans with sweaty jock gear and drove their children from home to playfield and back, stopping on the way to pick up supplies from the local supermarket.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Volvo

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Verdict: Volvo V40 defines what a crossover should be

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To give these brave folk some ease in driving and to inject some elegance into their routine, the crossover became a "frankencar", so to say, some of its parts coming from an SUV, others from the more sinuous sedans.

The crossover, therefore, became both a utility vehicle as well as a leisure drive that didn't offend beholders on city streets.

The crossover segment came into public focus when Honda launched the CR-V. It became an instant hit and changed the way the SUV was looked at.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Volvo

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Verdict: Volvo V40 defines what a crossover should be

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Suddenly, big vehicles with curves and contemporary looks began selling like hot cakes. People moved on from the chunky, rugged and slightly crude SUVs of the time.

In time, many car makers hitched a ride on the crossover bandwagon, and vehicles like the Chevrolet Captiva received acceptance.

With demand rising, luxury car makers also could not resist the crossover temptation - and BMW X1 became the first in its rarefied segment.

Not only did the X1 gather new fans for the Beemer, but it also pushed the Bavarian company to the pole position, pushing Mercedes-Benz to second place in terms of vehicles sold.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Volvo

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Verdict: Volvo V40 defines what a crossover should be

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Into this segment comes Volvo with its new V40, which it calls the Cross Country. Its muscled body and macho bumper are toned down by the sweeping angular design and a low, sloping bonnet.

The crossover paradigm holds good for its front grille too, whose aggression is tempered by a gentle dolphin-snout silhouette. Is this what a butch SUV should look like? No. But yes, the lines are what crossover designers would be ecstatic about.

Like most crossovers, the car looks pretty from the rear too. It has curves that would make Beyonce Knowles and Jennifer Lopez look positively under endowed. And don't forget those 45-degreeish tail lamps and the perfectly carved rear windshield.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Volvo

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Verdict: Volvo V40 defines what a crossover should be

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Its SUV genes show in its sky rails, front and rear skid plates (which protect the floor from scraping the rural rock roads or urban speed breakers) and a ground clearance of 145 mm.

Crossovers have slowly but steadily gained popularity because of their practical interior space, even if they now come stacked with features both for safety and for comfort.

The vehicle is, in effect, then not simply a ride for the adrenaline junkie of a father, but also for the easy rider of a mother.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Volvo
Tags: SUV , V40

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Verdict: Volvo V40 defines what a crossover should be

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Keeping these in mind, the designers of the V40 have given it premium interiors, though these pale in comparison with the sheen of the exterior.

And while the youthful look somehow never made it into the cabin, this Volvo still has one of the best front seats whose contours provide remarkable back support.

Here's the catch, one has to get the seat adjustment spot on, otherwise your lumbar region feels like it has been on a rack. So word of advice - take your time and adjust the seat accordingly.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Volvo
Tags: Volvo , V40

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Verdict: Volvo V40 defines what a crossover should be

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And true to its origins, the SUV-like virtues of great shoulder and head room and ample storage space are easily tangible.

Also, the boot space rings of the soccer mom's demands for grocery space and retail-therapy storage.

But if gazing into cavernous boots give you too much of a minivan feel, then you can raise your eyes skywards, for the Volvo comes with a huge panoramic glass roof that betrays its luxury sedan ambitions.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Volvo

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Verdict: Volvo V40 defines what a crossover should be

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And there's one hassle less for the harried - it uses parallel-parking sensors to find space and deposit itself there.

Another aspect of a crossover which makes it a winner in city traffic is that it is easy to manoeuvre, while still being enthusiastic in slow-moving traffic.

The V40 is true to form and never gasps for power at low speed. Its diesel heart is responsive any time you step on the pedal.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Volvo
Tags: V40

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Verdict: Volvo V40 defines what a crossover should be

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So, now if you want to know what a pedigree crossover looks like, all you got to do is look at the unibody V40 Cross Country and you have your answer.

Volvo V40

Engine: 1984CC, In-Line 5 cylinder Turbo Diesel

Power: 150hp@3500rpm

Torque: 350Nm@2750rpm

Ground clearance: 145mm

Top speed: 205kmph

Gear box: 6-speed automatic

Price: Rs 28.5 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)


Photographs: Courtesy, Volvo

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