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Andy Harris
Motoring and Property Editor
9:03 AM 10th November 2019

Volvo’s XC40 - The Swedish SUV Smoothie

Just occasionally I end up driving over a thousand miles in a week and not always in a car suited for such adventures. However, there are times when the car on the driveway is ideal.

Case in point the week before last when a launch in the Cotswolds, a concert in Leeds and a few days by the sea in Northumberland were on the cards.

The transport, a top-spec Volvo XC40 R-Design Pro.

The XC40 is one of the more distinctive SUVs to appear on the motoring scene in recent years, joining the larger XC60 and XC90 models.
Although Volvo has announced that any new models launched will no longer be available with a diesel engine, I was quite pleased to find a 190PS D4 motor, fuelled by the black stuff, under the bonnet. The promise of up to 56.5mpg accompanied by lively performance would be the ideal way to travel.

Mated to this familiar engine was Volvo’s eight-speed automatic gearbox, a smooth operator that would take the stress and strain out of any stop-start driving that I would encounter. It suits the laid-back nature of the XC40 just perfectly.

My 550-mile round trip to the Cotswolds was via the usual traffic-choked M6, and with the adaptive cruise control set at the national speed limit, I had very little to do other than steer, enjoy a little light music and watch the miles tick by.

Four hours after leaving home, I arrived at journey’s end relaxed and ache free. The XC40’s seats are some of the most comfortable available on a production car.

The return journey, via dinner with a cousin in Banbury, was slightly more eventful. Appalling weather and night-time motorway roadworks added a layer of unwanted aggravation to the trip. I was grateful for the all-wheel drive system, heated front windscreen and excellent visibility.

The powerful sound system decided to throw a wobbly and refused to play the radio or any tunes from my iPhone and the satellite navigation also remained mute. I tried the usual layman’s trick of turning the car off and on again, but to no avail. The next morning the radio burst back into life…

My trip to the coast took in some of my favourite driving roads. High-speed cornering is a composed and sure-footed affair. However, the light steering, a boon in town driving, lacks any real feel and does little to encourage a spirited driving style.

Better to relax and let the miles fly by, with the suspension doing a good job of soaking up most road imperfections. At urban speeds larger potholes do make their presence felt – blame the large alloy wheels, I guess.
Although travelling solo for most of the test week, the 460-litre boot is a good size and there are seat dividers to stop the weekly shopping from flying around. Drop the rear perches and the boot’s capacity increases to 1,336-litres.

There are a smattering of clever features which improve everyday life too. Wireless phone charging, spacious door pockets and a folding glovebox hook to hold your takeaway, to name but a few.

Although not required, it was reassuring to know that the XC40 comes equipped with all the very latest safety features. City Safety uses radar and camera technology to apply the brakes if you have failed to spot a wandering pedestrian or cyclist, whilst Oncoming Lane Mitigation is designed to prevent head-on collisions.

All these are in addition to the usual complement of airbags, crumple zones and seat belt technology.

The XC40 acquitted itself well during my hard charging week. Over 1,100 miles covered, each one in comfort, and a reasonable 39.2mpg showing on the trip computer. Hard to fault, much to like and with prices starting at around £25,000, a trip to your local friendly Volvo dealer should surely be on the cards.

Fast Facts

Volvo XC40 D4 AWD R-Design Pro
Price £38,635
1969cc 190PS D4 diesel engine
8-speed automatic gearbox
0-62mph in 7.9 seconds
Top speed 130mph
Combine economy 56.5mpg
Test economy 39.2mpg
Emissions 133g/km CO2
Towing capacity 2100kg (braked)