THERE IS no doubt Volvo has been increasing its presence in quasi-premium new car market segments, and V40 is a great example. So good, in fact, that it nearly topped the class this year. With an indicative drive-away price of $48,368, it’s about $6000 less than the class-winning BMW. The Volvo also bettered the BMW in the areas of fuel consumption, insurance costs and standard features. It made for a tight tussle between these two for the top spot and left a sizeable gap back to third place. Volvos are renowned for their excellent seating comfort and the V40 is no exception, however its seats, while comfortable, are outdone by the BMW’s for lateral support. The V40’s 140kW, 2.0-litre turbo-charged petrol engine provides ample performance, and although more efficient than the BMW’s powerplant, it’s also down 25kW on the BMW. Volvo has clearly stepped up its game in build and finish and is a deserving match for the 125i and the third-placed Mercedes-Benz A180. Overall though, it’s the on-the-road scorelines where the front-drive Volvo ultimately loses ground to the BMW’s highly engaging rear-drive platform.