XC40: Gothenburg’s Evoque is gorgeous
The E Pace on the cover won’t have things all its own way. Volvo’s got big ambitions for its small premium SUV.
HE RIGHT CAR, for the right market, at the right time? You’re looking at it. The XC40 is Volvo’s first proper entry into what company president Håkan Samuelsson describes as the world’s fastest-growing segment – small, premium SUVs. He says: ‘We have the right product for the future.’ Hard to argue. As first attempts go, it’s an impressively well-resolved one, with all the desirability of its bigger 60 and 90 stablemates in a smaller and more affordable package, with its own distinctive character.
‘Because this is a new segment [for us] we had the chance to do something new,’ says senior vice president for design Robin Page. ‘This car didn’t have to [look like] a sibling to the 90 or 60 family – it could actually be more like a cousin.’
The chic, blocky crossover is the first arrival of a new 40 family. Although yet to be officially confirmed, it’s highly likely to be joined by a successor to the current V40 hatch and a more elongated version aimed chiefly towards the Chinese market. XC40 is the first car to be built using Volvo’s new CMA (Compact Module Architecture) platform, co-developed with Chinese owner Geely, which will use the same underpinnings for its recently announced Lynk & Co brand. Volvo’s designers insist that despite sharing platforms the cars will look very different.
To begin with nothing but 2.0-litre four-cylinder engines will power the XC40, launching with a 187bhp D4 diesel and 244bhp T5 petrol, both with all-wheel drive and auto gearboxes. Further four-pot engine options with front-drive and manual variants will follow shortly, and will later be joined
by a three-cylinder petrol engine being co-developed by Volvo and Geely, together with a plug-in hybrid XC40 and – quite a bit later – a full plug-in electric version.
Launching simultaneously with the XC40 is Care by Volvo, ‘the world’s first subscription model for cars’ according to the company. Similar to music streaming or mobile phone packages, customers get the car for 24 months at a flat monthly rate of £629, including insurance, tax and servicing – after which they get a new one. Initially it’s available only to people living within the M25 and on select engines and trims; it’ll be rolled out to other variants, and to customers living elsewhere, at a later date. With younger drivers reluctant to commit to fullon ownership of anything, Volvo’s trying to get ahead of the curve; in five years, it expects a fifth of its sales to come from Care by Volvo.
Buy an XC40 the old-fashioned way and the range starts at £27,905 for the front-wheel-drive manual 154bhp T3 petrol Momentum, with the equivalent 148bhp D3 diesel at £28,965. Flashier-looking R-Design versions (black roof, dual exhausts, lower suspension) mostly occupy the low-tomid £30k bracket, and the range tops out at £40,355 for the kit-laden T5 First Edition launch special. Those prices put the XC40 broadly in line with the Audi Q3 (which Volvo insiders say was the chief benchmark) and Jaguar’s new E-Pace, and a little below the Range Rover Evoque.
The XC40 has just as strong a design personality inside as out. The portrait touchscreen is the same one found in 60/90-series models, but its surroundings are unique to the XC40, and won’t be carried over to other 40-series models. Inventive storage solutions include a removable rubbish bin in the transmission tunnel console (which won’t feature on the hybrid version, as its batteries eat into tunnel space), and moving the bass speakers from the doors to behind the dashboard, resulting in giant pockets big enough to take a laptop. A nice touch (literally) is the use of felt made from recycled bottles, found in larger Volvo models to quell rattles in the door pockets, but spread across the entire door inners and transmission tunnel to trim the XC40.
At 4425mm long the XC40’s around 260mm shorter than the XC60 but there’s still a useful boot, plenty of legroom front and rear, and those giant cubist bell-bottom C-pillars don’t block as much side and rear vision as you might expect.
UK deliveries begin early in 2018. We suspect it might just sell like particularly hot cakes.
HELLO SPACE BOY Ian Kettle was lead exterior designer: ‘I based the design around the phrase “tough little robot,”’ he says, citing sci-i ilm Elysium as an inspiration. ‘It’s a new car – not a scale model of a 90/60-series.’ SHADES OF THE PAST The...