Volvo V40 D2 SE: manual vs automatic

  • We drive the manual version of the V40 to see how it compares
  • Our long-termer's automatic Powershift gearbox costs £1,485 more
  • How do the two measure up when it comes to headline figures?

Okay, first things first: our long term Volvo V40 is a great car. Having now driven over 1,500 miles, I have found it to be comfortable, practical and economical.

That said, there is one big niggling issue that all of us here at Parkers have discovered while out on the road, and that is the automatic Powershift gearbox.

Costing an extra £1,485 over the manual (which costs £23,070 in the same SE Nav trim as our car) you would expect the gearbox to enhance the car's driving experience but, disappointingly, it doesn't.

The V40 is an ideal commuter car because of its superior comfort levels and practicality but for city-based driving the gearbox really lets it down.

Volvo V40

Slow, unresponsive and jerky, the gearbox and engine seem to take their time talking to one another. This causes a few seconds delay from the foot being placed on the accelerator pedal to the car actually moving, which is a nightmare if you’re trying to pull out of a busy junction.

One of the common drawbacks to driving an automatic car is that the driver can feel less engaged behind the wheel and that is definitely the case in the V40.

When the opportunity came up to drive a manual version, I jumped at the chance to find out how the manual fares in comparison.

And it was better. Much better.

Smooth, light and easy to use, the manual gearbox is well in-tune with the engine with no lengthy delays. You feel more engaged as a driver.

How do the two measure up when it comes to headline figures, though?

Our long-termer emits 102g/km of CO2 while the manual manages an impressive 88g/km. When it comes to economy, the auto returns a respectable combined figure of 72.4mpg but the manual still trumps it with 83.1mpg. That represents a huge gulf in efficiency.

Volvo V40

Performance-wise, both cars have a top speed of 118mph and 0-62mph acceleration times leave very little to call between the two. The auto' will reach 62mph in 12.1 seconds and the manual in 11.9 seconds.

So is the Powershift automatic gearbox worth the extra investment? The verdict here in the office is a resounding no.

To find out more about automatic and manual gearboxes and the pros and cons for both, click here to read our guide.

Look out for the next update where we find out why the V40 is the number one safest car currently on sale here in the UK.

Current Mileage: 2,063

Average MPG: 51.0mpg