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No hard-sell for Volvo’s winning XC40

PUBLISHED: 20:26 01 May 2018 | UPDATED: 20:27 01 May 2018

Volvo XC40 has stormed into the premium compact SUV sector with soaraway sales and the European Car of the Year title. Picture: Volvo

Volvo XC40 has stormed into the premium compact SUV sector with soaraway sales and the European Car of the Year title. Picture: Volvo

Volvo

Volvo has found another winning formula with the XC40, its first compact SUV, and it’s really found favour with customers, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

Volvo XC40 has a trendier and more youthful side profile design than bigger XC60 and XC90. Picture: VolvoVolvo XC40 has a trendier and more youthful side profile design than bigger XC60 and XC90. Picture: Volvo

Put a desirable badge on an equally desirable compact SUV, a popular, fast-growing classes of car, and it makes a big impact.

Even Volvo is surprised at how its XC40, smallest member of its SUV family, has taken off. Its most successful new UK model launch, 2,000 sales a month is double Volvo’s forecast.

Look and image

As the model that completes the three-car SUV line-up, Volvo could have just scaled down the XC90 and XC60’s styling but it chose to take a slightly different approach for this ‘urban SUV’, designed primarily for city life.

The front is dominated by the big grille, Volvo badge and ‘Thor’s hammer’ headlights, the back by those trademark contoured haunches, emphasised by the tail lights, but the sportier side profile with its sharply angled rear side window drawing the eye to the roof, available in a contrast colour, makes it look more youthful and trendier. It’s a Volvo but stands out like the old 480 and C30 coupes did.

XC40 is third, and smallest, member of Volvo's SUV family. Picture: VolvoXC40 is third, and smallest, member of Volvo's SUV family. Picture: Volvo

Under the bonnet

First Edition launch model, based on sporty, high-spec R-Design Pro, gets two 2.0-litre turbo engines – 190hp D4 diesel and 247hp T5 petrol, both all-wheel drive and eight-speed automatic. They are joined by 190hp T4 and 150hp D3, the latter also offered with six-speed manual gearbox and front-wheel drive.

But the XC40 is also the first Volvo with a three-cylinder engine – a 156hp 1.5-litre turbo petrol in front-wheel drive, manual T3. With Volvo’s commitment to electrified powertrains, hybrids will feature.

The D4 is gruff when cold, but smoothes out once warms, has a good turn of speed, especially in dynamic mode, returned 40mpg overall and the best bet if you seriously need all-wheel drive.

Decent leg and headroom in the back for four six-foot adults. Picture: VolvoDecent leg and headroom in the back for four six-foot adults. Picture: Volvo

How it drives

New platforms have transformed modern Volvos’ dynamics and the XC40 is the first model using the compact modular architecture (CMA) platform which will underpin future small Volvos.

The XC40 takes things to a dynamic new level – nimble enough through twists and turns to make you forget this is still a relatively large SUV with well-weighted steering having good feel.

Even with 20in wheels and R-Design’s uprated sports suspension, the ride was generally compliant but, while coping admirably with poor surfaces, there’s a lot of tyre noise. If comfort is a priority, choose models with 18in wheels and deeper tyres.

Space and comfort

Well-shaped, 460-litre boot has sill-level removable floor panel. Picture: VolvoWell-shaped, 460-litre boot has sill-level removable floor panel. Picture: Volvo

It may be the smallest SUV but it’s far from it inside with decent leg and headroom for four six-foot adults – even three in the back isn’t a squeeze but the tall transmission tunnel limits foot space in the middle seat.

A high window line makes it quite dark in the back unless you go for a power glass panoramic sunroof which doesn’t sacrifice much headroom.

The well-shaped, 460-litre boot’s sill-level removable floor panel helps make light work of loading large heavy items and the rigid parcel shelf fits beneath it when not needed. Rear seats split 60/40 and fold flat and flush with the boot floor but are heavy to lift back up.

At the wheel

The XC40 shares its bigger siblings’ clean-cut, quality cockpit with top-notch materials, good seat and steering wheel adjustment and a minimalist feel to the fascia thanks to customisable virtual dials, according to drive mode, and the nine-inch, tablet-style Sensus infotainment touchscreen which swipes like a smartphone and also benefits from voice control to operate virtually everything. Don’t worry – using it soon becomes second nature.

XC40 has that clean-cut, quality Volvo cockpit with top-notch materials. Picture: VolvoXC40 has that clean-cut, quality Volvo cockpit with top-notch materials. Picture: Volvo

There’s not shortage of cabin storage and a removable rubbish bin between the front seats is a great idea.

Equipment and trims

With the 1,000 First Edition launch models virtually sold before arriving in showrooms, there are the familiar Momentum, sporty R-Design and range-topping, luxury Inscription trims.

Strong standard fare sees all get satellite-navigation, LED headlights, dual-zone climate control, 12.3in active driver information display, rear parking sensors while safety features include automatic emergency braking which detects pedestrians, cyclists and large animals and technology to avoid an oncoming vehicle if you stray out of your lane.

Pro versions of each gain powered driver’s seat, heated front seats and steering wheel, active bending headlights and adaptive, anti-dazzle headlights.

Using tablet-style Sensus infotainment touchscreen soon becomes second nature. Picture: VolvoUsing tablet-style Sensus infotainment touchscreen soon becomes second nature. Picture: Volvo

Final say

Volvo has done it again, storming into the compact SUV market with the XC40 – another winning formula borne out by soaraway sales.

SPEC AND TECH

Price: Volvo XC40 D4 AWD First Edition £39,305 (range from £27,610)

Engine: 1,969cc, 190hp, four-cylinder turbo diesel with eight-speed automatic transmission

Performance: 0-62mph 7.9 seconds; top speed 130mph

MPG: Urban 49.6; extra urban 60.1; combined 56.5

CO2 emissions: 133g/km

Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 30pc

Insurance group: 30 (out of 50)

Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles

Will it fit in the garage? L 4,425mm; W (including door mirrors) 2,034mm; H 1,652mm


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