The V40 - Volvo's best seller is now even better.

Volvo V40
Volvo V40
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SIZE really does matter to Swedish car maker Volvo for its smallest model the V40 is its biggest seller and recent improvements to the car should ensure that the five door V40 continues to be a popular premium competitor in this sector writes Bryan Longworth.

Volvo who are now owned by a Chinese company have given the V40 what they call the new face of Volvo for the 2017 model year with LED "Thor's Hammer" headlights as featured on the XC90, S90 and V90 along with new grille meshes featuring the updated and more visually striking Volvo Iron Mark.

There are also new wheels and colours and while it might not sound to be a big deal it does in fact add to the appeal of the V40 and the front in particular looks really cool and improving the street cred of this very popular Scandavian car.

My test car was the V40 D2 Momentum Nav Plus which with 11 optional extras costing £29,215 including a six speed automatic gearbox priced at £1,485 but prices for the V40 range start at £20,255 for those potential owners on more modest budgets wanting a premium set of wheels.

The test car was powered by the D2 2.0-litre diesel engine which with the automatic transmission produces CO2 emissions of 101g/km but with the manual transmission the emissions drop to 89g/km - top speed with auto gears is 118mph zero to 60mph takes 9.8 seconds and combined fuel consumption is 74.3mpg.

I was pleasantly surprised to find when starting to drive the test car just how lively it was and also the lack of engine noise when on the move and just how smooth the powertrain was linked to the very impressive automatic transmission.

It had matching road holding qualities especially over my favorite roads in the Derbyshire Peak District where last year I tried out and was very impressed by the new Volvo engines which have transformed their range.

The spacious and quality cabin which features new upholstery had a premium feel about it and the instruments and controls were very user friendly especially the large digital speedo but it was quite a stretch to reach the start/stop button to the upper left of the steering wheel.

I liked the manual controls for features like the radio and heating rather than on screen functions but there were over a dozen buttons on the centre console for other functions which could be rather confusing.

The rear hatch opens to reveal a good sized two tier load area which can be increased by folding the rear seats and underneath was a spare wheel although this was a £150 option. Volvos have always been very safe cars and the V40 is no exception with the standard city safety system helping to prevent the driver running into a vehicle or pedestrian ahead and the optional blind spot information system was extremely useful for detecting vehicles in the blind spots which might otherwise have been missed.

The latest very stylish Volvo V40 faces formidable premium competition from the likes of the Audi A3, BMW 1 Series and VW Golf but it can more than hold its own in every way and Volvo's biggest seller should now become even more popular.

Fact File:

Model: Volvo V40 D2 Momentum Nav Plus.

Engine: 2.0-litre four cylinder diesel.

Output: 120hp.

Transmission: Automatic.

Top speed:118mph.

Acceleration: 0 to 60mph 9.8 seconds.

Fuel consumption: 74.3mpg combined.

CO2 emissions: 101g/km.

Price: £29,215 (with options).