Volvo XC40

Volvo’s first stab at cool

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By now you know the drill with Volvos—boxy, bor­ing etc. All that changed with the new cars un­der­pinned by the Scal­able Prod­uct Ar­chi­tec­ture, or SPA, plat­form. Spear­headed by the stylish XC90 SUV, the range of new-age Volvo’s grew to in­clude more so­phis­ti­cated cars like the S90 sedan, V90 es­tate and, most re­cently, the re­place­ment to the best­selling mid-size SUV in Eu­rope, the XC60. And as ef­fort­lessly slick as th­ese cars look, they are also de­cid­edly ma­ture. Grown up, pinned down and un­der­stated would be apt to de­scribe the styling. The XC40 is the op­po­site of all those things. Thanks in part to the more vi­brant colours but largely down to the more ‘fun-sized’ pro­por­tions. The first car to be based on the Volvo-Geely de­vel­oped Com­pact Mod­u­lar Ar­chi­tec­ture, or CMA, plat­form, the XC40 looks com­pact on the road, though up close you re­alise there’s a fair amount of sheet metal to take in.

At 4,424mm the XC40 is the same size as a Mercedes GLA but it looks much more sub­stan­tial, more SUV than cross­over. The long snout of the larger Volvo’s makes way for a stubby front end, still recog­nis­able though as a Volvo with the sig­na­ture Thor’s Ham­mer head­lights and con­cave grille. From the side, it’s pure SUV with its clamshell style hood, a high shoul­der line and large glass area. The re­verse link in the C-pil­lar is an es­pe­cially nice touch, giv­ing the baby XC some nice

haunches and al­low­ing the sur­fac­ing to ta­per in to­wards the boomerang-shaped tail lights. There’s also an in­ter­est­ing in­ter­sec­tion of the sides into the roof, while up front there’s a dash of pa­tri­o­tism, in the form of the Swedish flag stick­ing out from un­der the hood. R-De­sign pack­ages add a con­trast black roof, apart from gloss black trim in­stead of rub­ber, larger 20-inch wheels in­stead of 19s and two ex­haust cut-outs in­stead of the sin­gle. It also has a dif­fer­ent in­te­rior trim and the su­per cool or­ange car­pet­ing that ex­tends up to the door pock­ets. The car maker claims that you can also or­der your Momentum or In­scrip­tion trim car with a white roof. While fi­nal con­fig­u­ra­tions have not been fi­nalised for India, we can ex­pect wheel sizes to be down­graded to 18s as stan­dard and 19s on the R-De­sign spec.

The in­te­ri­ors feel like they were de­signed by some­one who’s spent a lot of time in other cars, not­ing down mis­takes and then cor­rect­ing them. In­tu­itive best de­scribes the user ex­pe­ri­ence in this cabin. All car func­tions are ac­cessed via the cen­tral touch­screen that we love from the more ex­pen­sive Volvos, leav­ing the cen­tral tun­nel free for a wire­less charg­ing re­cep­ta­cle big enough for two smart­phones, the gear lever, a re­mov­able waste bin and a large stor­age bin un­der the arm rest. Also by re­mov­ing the lower mounted door speak­ers, there’s a lot of stor­age space freed up in the door pock­ets, good for two large bot­tles.

Volvo is also proud of their new air ven­ti­lated woofer tech that pro­vides a res­o­nance cham­ber for the cen­tral speaker placed right at the start of the wind­screen. It adds bass to the al­ready wide and im­pres­sive sound­stage of­fered by the 13 speaker Har­man setup. I love the deep dish steer-





ing wheel and the brushed sil­ver spokes feel pure qual­ity, just like the rest of the cabin. The seat­ing is quite high, which gives you a good view of the road. It is some­thing, Volvo tells us, that their cus­tomers look for in an SUV. In the back, you’re well taken care of with ded­i­cated AC vents, two charg­ing ports and a bench wide enough for three adults. The rear bench has a re­cline that’s more suited to short stints than long hauls but again un­der thigh sup­port is good and knee room is ad­e­quate, ex­cept for the pas­sen­ger in the mid­dle. The XC40 is prob­a­bly one of the roomier cars in its seg­ment.

Like most oth­ers in the seg­ment, it’s pow­ered by a choice of 2-litre en­gines. In D4 diesel spec, fig­ures are 190bhp and 400Nm torque which will take it to 100kmph from stand­still in a re­spectable 7.9s. The T5 petrol is faster to the 100kmph mark at 6.5s, with its 247bhp, 350Nm torque out­put. But the diesel is quiet in­side and re­fined and ac­tu­ally torquier in city traf­fic so you don’t re­ally no­tice the dif­fer­ence. Both come with a BorgWarner AWD sys­tem that can split torque 50/50 be­tween the front and rear wheels when needed while driv­ing the front wheels un­der reg­u­lar con­di­tions. Both are fit­ted with an 8-speed torque con­verter au­to­matic with pad­dle shifters. We dis­cov­ered that the sys­tem makes some good de­ci­sions on its own. In any case, the box is a lit­tle re­luc­tant with quick down­shifts. While both en­gines of­fer

a healthy mid range for in-gear over­takes, the diesel felt more po­tent lower in the rev range. Con­versely the petrol has longer legs and sup­ports an en­thu­si­as­tic driver bet­ter, es­pe­cially in Sport mode, which adds a bit more heft to the steer­ing feel and sharp­ens up throt­tle and brake re­sponse. Both aren’t re­ally meant to at­tack moun­tain roads, favour­ing ride qual­ity over han­dling. The ride qual­ity in fact comes close to what’s of­fered on Volvos with air sus­pen­sion. As a re­sult, body roll is your first sign that you’ve en­tered a cor­ner a lit­tle too en­thu­si­as­ti­cally. Though the XC40 will grip and hold on sur­pris­ingly well even if you de­cide not to lean on the pro­gres­sive and pre­dic­tive brak­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the car. The weighty steer­ing we talked about ear­lier feels a lit­tle lack­ing in turn-in feed­back but makes up for it with con­fi­dence-inspiring sta­bil­ity at speed. Also boost­ing your con­fi­dence will be the plethora of safety sys­tems that will come stan­dard when the XC40 launches to India. On board is the new im­proved City Safety Sys­tem that can even mon­i­tor four-way in­ter­sec­tions and brake au­to­mat­i­cally, the semi-au­ton­o­mous Pi­lot As­sist that steers you to your lane at speeds up to 130kmph, as well as adap­tive cruise con­trol and blind spot as­sist in the outer rear view mir­rors. Seal­ing the deal, eight airbags are stan­dard.

Cabin feels re­mark­ably well-made and premium, like on the big­ger, more ex­pen­sive Volvos

1. Car­ried over from the sib­lings we just men­tioned, 9-inch in­fo­tain­ment is your win­dow to the work­ing of your XC40. 2. Three adults in the rear isn’t a squeeze. But let’s face it, th­ese seats are more likely to be car­ry­ing your kids

Simran Ras­togi Se­nior Cor­re­spon­dent simran.ras­togi@in­to­ @run­sim­run


Adding fire to an al­ready su­per-hot premium cross­over/ SUV seg­ment, the XC40 stands out purely in terms of its in­te­rior class, fea­ture list and safety tech. We also like that’s got funky styling on its side. It’s com­fort­able to be in and of­fers hugely prac­ti­cal touches like the shop­ping bag hooks and re­mov­able cen­tral bin for waste. That shows that Volvo’s been lis­ten­ing to its cus­tomers. And we have no doubt that the XC40 will earn them a whole new de­mo­graphic in India.

1. No hump at the load­ing lip makes us­ing the 460 litres of boot space a breeze. Thought­ful lug­gage par­ti­tion has hooks for shop­ping bags, apart from pre­vent­ing items be­hind it from rolling around. 2. Volvo’s smart­phone app lets you do smart things with your XC40 like cool it in ad­vance. 3. Up­dated safety sys­tems now re­act to a higher num­ber of haz­ardous sit­u­a­tions

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