Volvo V40 R-Design out to cause Blue murder
Think motoring sexy and BMW/Audi immediately spring to mind.
The M Sport, RS and S badges are synonymous with lust and thrust but the German giants need to be wary.
There is a new contender in the compact premium market which will give the top two a run for their money.
They used to be "boxy but safe" (famous movie quote from Crazy People) - now they're foxy and safe.
Yes, Volvo have just rolled out the V40 R-Design - a stunning 5-door luxury hatchback which is sure to put the wind up the 1-series and the A3.
The hot hatch range even comes in its own unique colours including this amazing Rebel Blue which will make you feel anything but.
The styling of the R-design is aggressive and in your face.
First giveaway is the lowered front bumper (sports suspension dropped by 10mm) which is complimented by vertical, LED running lights.
The two-tone, 17 inch alloys are also twinned with matching silver wing mirrors but the biggest tease is around the back where the dummy rear diffuser is sandwiched by twin, chrome exhaust pipes.
Climb inside and the sporty refinement continues but with a more premium feel.
Sink into the half leather/half suede bucket seats and wrap your hands around the chunky multi-function steering wheel and the blood begins to pump.
The R-design logo is dotted around the cabin to remind you of its pedigree and there's a matching blue racing stripe running up the side of the brushed aluminium floating centre console bringing your eye up to the minimalist, uber thin rear view mirror.
Turn the key and the clocks illuminate in the same hew as the exterior and even the see-through gear knob lights up - all adding to the luxurious, upmarket feel to the cabin.
You can even choose different settings - Elegance, Eco and Performance - and the flick of a switch will alter the position of the rev counter, speedo and fuel consumption gauges.
There's plenty of goodies thrown in including Bluetooth (now standard across the range) climate control, Intelligent Driver Information System with 5 inch colour screen and leather steering with remote controls.
Being a Volvo, it's loaded with safety features with standard kit including Advanced Traction Control and Torque Vectoring, whiplash protection system, multiple airbags including driver's knee, inflatable curtains and there's even a pedestrian airbag.
So how does the V-40 drive?
Fantastically well considering that the D2 model we tested is the runt of the litter.
She may be only packing a sobering 115bhp but the ride and handling were intoxicating.
The cabin is so well insulated we were hardly reminded that it was diesel powered and because there was no shortage of torque - one never felt wanting.
In fact, at cruising speeds on the motorway the ride felt more luxury saloon that hot hatch and what you loose in brute force you'll more than make up for in economy.
Thanks to a leaner and greener engines the D2 has Hybrid-like CO2 levels with emissions of just 94g/km. This translates into fuel consumption of well over 58mpg and annual road tax of just €180.
A little more poke would have been welcome but you do get value for money and the exclusiveness of driving such a stand-out-from-the-crowd car.
Even the dreaded options list are reasonable with full leather upholstery retailing at €680, unique paint - €290 and spare wheel €80.
A meatier D3 with 148bhp or a 5-cylinder 175bhp is also available.
Prices for the V-40 R-Design range starts from €30,095.