One would think that building a hatchback on the carcass of Ford’s perennially well honed Focus should practically guarantee a degree of dynamic finesse. But the last time Volvo’s engineers were left to tinker with a Ford hatchback platform (one they helped to develop), it turned into the decidedly lumpy C30.
This time around, it’s clear within half a mile that Gothenburg’s chassis tuners have fettled a far finer product.
The V40’s electric power steering (shared with Ford, but retuned) moves through a slippery, wrinkle-free arc with persuasive ease. Opt for the variable system and there are three settings from which to choose, although none makes the car’s rack particularly communicative.
Nevertheless, the weight and speed are precisely where you’d expect them to be, and that’s generally enough for a five-door family hatch. Through a familiar, synthesised haze, it also has just enough directness to provide a modicum of agility when covering ground quickly.
The V40 has been set up too sympathetically to make this seem wilfully sporty, but there’s sufficient enthusiasm on turn-in and adequate grip through medium-fast bends to make the Volvo feel obliging where previous models would merely have tolerated attempts to push on.