20 March 1998

LIGHT BLUE TOUCH PAPER

AND STAND

WELL CLEAR

In this months Country Car,

Geoff Ashcroft dodges speed cameras

in Volvos V40 T4, calms down in a diesel

Vectra and luxuriates in Nissans new

Patrol. Andrew Pearce meanwhile

pitches Toyotas new Hilux against

Mitsubishis class-leading L200

TAKE one medium-sized Swedish estate car, add a turbo, fit wider tyres and allow to simmer until 200hp is available.

The result?

Well, its Volvos pocket rocket, the V40 T4 – an express estate car which is so quick, it more than makes up for what you cant carry in the back.

Not that its an impractical car, but unlike its larger stable-mates the V70 and V90, the compact V40 puts style and elegance above space and practicality.

On paper, the T4 estate brings up 62mph in an alarming 7.3secs, powering on to 145mph – but at no point is this car uncontrollable. If you dont want to use the performance, the T4 is happy bumbling around town and will do granny for those mid-morning outings. Yet light the blue touch paper and theres a frenzy of power all the way to the 6500rpm red line, which sets the front tyres scrabbling even with traction control on.

Long after youve forgotten about that piece of furniture which wouldnt fit in the car, the urgency of the motor will go on pleasing, though the cost of replacement front tyres wont.

And when driven in anger, your passengers are sure to ask "wheres the fire?"

But its a highly charged motor – squeezing so many horses from only 1.9-litres of four-cylinder engine doesnt seem a recipe for longevity.

Like the larger T5 estate Volvo offers, the T4 is not a car youll be noticed in – it looks like any other V40 apart from one badge on the tailgate, a fat exhaust and low-profile tyres.

The verdict: Unlike its larger stablemates, the V40 T4 is no voluminous load carrier, but then again, it doesnt look your usual Volvo. And if you want to teach those boy racers a lesson or two, the unassuming T4 estate does it with blistering pace.

Above: Volvo V40 T4. Not the most voluminous carrier but granny-frighteningly fast. Left: Sensible Swedes subtle badging.

VOLVO DATA

&#8226 Model: V40 T4.

&#8226 List price: £21,280.

&#8226 Engine: 200hp, 1.9-litre 16v 4-cylinder petrol.

&#8226 Top speed: 145mph.

&#8226 0-62mph: 7.3sec.

&#8226 Test fuel consumption: 31.3mpg.

&#8226 Insurance group: n/a.