Engine: 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo, 187kW/360Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Fuel economy: 8.1 litres/100km
Emissions: 189gr/km (Euro4)
Equipment: Includes Bluetooth wireless
Safety: Five-star crash rating
Factory warranty: Three year/100,000km
The T5-R is the go-fast variant in Volvo’s V40 hatchback range. The V40 scored the highest ever result in the Euro NCAP crash testing regime with a near-perfect five-star rating, thanks in part to the world’s first pedestrian airbag and an improved City Safety system that automatically brakes the car to avoid rear-end collisions at speeds up to 50km/h. There are cheaper and more engaging hot hatches around, such as the Renault Megane RS and Ford Focus ST, but they don’t have Volvo’s bank-vault safety credentials. Inside, the seats are excellent, so too the basic ergonomics, topped by Volvo’s floating centre console. Boot space is just adequate; so too rear headroom. The T5 R-Design is good fun on a well-sealed winding road, helped by a gearbox that channels a linear supply of power to a chassis that blends a soft and firm ride. But step on the power away from a good surface and things change. The ride continues to cope reasonably well but the numb electric steering is caught short by the front wheels often scrambling for direction under throttle-induced torque steer. The similarly powered Megane RS and Focus ST have sharper helms.
Styling, punchy engine, snappy cabin, good ride compromise
Not so good
Numb steering, unwieldy turning circle, lacks all-round character of rivals.