The Exciting New Volvo XC40 On Test
Andy Harris, Motoring and Property Editor
Volvo can do no wrong at the moment. Buoyed by the popularity of its XC60 and XC90 models, the Swedish brand has just launched the XC40, a compact SUV built on Volvo’s all-new platform which will underpin the new-generation 40 series models.
Whereas the larger models are conservatively styled, the XC40 sets out to wow with a striking and bold new look. Unmistakably Volvo, here is a vehicle aimed at a more youthful audience and as such there is plenty of scope to personalise the XC40, from the optional contrast-colour roof to a wide variety of attractive alloy wheels.
As is the Volvo way, engine choice consists of three and four-cylinder petrols and four-cylinder diesels. Coming soon are the plug-in hybrid and all-electric variants.
Three trim levels are available – Momentum, R-Design and Inscription, with a sub class of ‘Pro’ models aimed at the business user.
All XC40s are lavishly equipped so expect to find dual-zone climate control, auto wipers, 18-inch alloy wheels and a 12-inch digital instrument panel, replacing conventional dials.
R-Design adds a more sporty touch with gloss black trim, diamond-cut alloy wheels and sumptuous leather/nubuck seats.
Top Inscription models are fitted with a power-operated tailgate, metallic paint and some exterior splashes of chrome.
On test here is the limited-run First Edition which comes positively weighed down with goodies; Harmon Kardon sound system, Xenium Pack with powered glass sunroof, Smartphone Integration and heated front and rear seats. A heady £39,905 with the 190hp D4 diesel engine and 8-speed automatic gearbox.
The XC40 range starts at £27,905, so you can limit the spend if you so wish.
Back to the test car and although the world is now moving away from diesel power, there is still much to commend. The D4 engine endows the XC40 with brisk performance (0 to 62mph in 7.9 seconds) and does its best work between 1,500 and 3,000rpm. Extending it further reveals a harsh tone to the motor and serves little purpose.
Better to let the smooth shifting auto-box keep the engine in its sweet spot.
R-Design and First Edition models get flappy paddles to exert authority over the gearbox, other versions will require use of the stubby gear lever.
Volvo quotes around 55mpg for the combined cycle, with my average for the week a slightly disappointing 37mpg. Maybe hang on for the petrol-hybrid unless you spend most of your days pounding the motorways?
Volvo has always placed comfort high on its agenda and out on the pock-marked roads of Yorkshire this seems like a sensible philosophy. Ride comfort is excellent, especially at higher speeds, though the large alloy wheels do struggle when confronted by urban potholes.
During high speed cornering, the XC40 remains composed and feels generally sure-footed, no doubt aided by the all-wheel drive system.
It’s not all good news, as the light steering, whilst a boon around town, lacks any real feel and does nothing to encourage a spirited driving style. But then safety is one of Volvo’s core philosophies...
If driving pleasure is top of your agenda, then perhaps a Jaguar E-PACE or BMW X1 might be more your cup of tea.
However, where the new Volvo XC40 undoubtedly shines is when you climb on board. The spacious, airy interior oozes class and Scandinavian style. Soft touch materials abound and comfort front and rear is guaranteed. Volvo has a knack of producing seats that support in all the right places and those in the XC40 are amongst the best you will find.
Rear seat accommodation is generous for the class, so adults will find room to spread out.
I would recommend the glass roof as it bathes the cabin in natural light and it can be opened for those little al fresco moments.
There are smatterings of clever features which improve everyday motoring life. Wireless phone charging, spacious door pockets and a folding glovebox hook to hold your takeaway...
The dashboard is pleasantly devoid or buttons and switches, with most functions controlled by Volvo’s now familiar nine-inch infotainment system. It is one of the more intuitive systems available today, though I would prefer to have separate buttons for the basic heater controls. You soon adapt to the Volvo way however.
All XC40s come with a built-in modem. This allows you, via a SIM card with data allowance, to turn the car into a WiFi hotspot. Up to eight mobile devices can be connected to the internet, so no bored kids on a long car journey.
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No Volvo has ever left the showroom without being fitted with all the latest safety technology and the XC40 is no exception. The company’s continued focus on safety innovation is all part of Volvo’s Vision 2020, whereby no one will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car by 2020.
The City Safety system uses radar and camera technology to apply the brakes if you have failed to spot a wandering pedestrian or speeding cyclist. Oncoming Lane Mitigation is designed to prevent head-on collisions, the most serious of all.
All these features are in addition to the usual complement of airbags, crumple zones and seat belt technology.
How to sum up the new Volvo XC40?
In term of ownership experience in the compact SUV class, the XC40 ranks amongst the best. Whilst the keener driver may find the driving experience a little anodyne, family life will undoubtedly be improved by having the XC40 on your driveway.
I’m inclined to think that hybrid power is likely to be the way forward and as soon as I can get my hands on one, you will read all about it here. In the meantime, pop down to your friendly local dealer and take a peek. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
Fast Facts (as tested)
Volvo XC40 D4 AWD First Edition
Range starts at £27,905
190hp 1,969cc diesel engine
8-speed automatic gearbox
0-62mph in 7.9 seconds
Top speed 130mph
Combined economy 55mpg
Emissions 131g/km CO2
The Exciting New Volvo XC40 On Test, 22nd May 2018, 14:05 PM