Scandi ap­peal

Re­port 3 Volvo XC40 £34,570 OTR/£41,495 as tested

Top Gear (UK) - - GARAGE - ES­THER NEVE

These past cou­ple of weeks we’ve had a few vis­i­tors in the TopGear car park – a Land Rover Dis­cov­ery Sport, Skoda Ko­diaq, Hyundai Santa Fe and Honda CR-V. Os­ten­si­bly, they were in for a group test that you can read on page 84, but for me it was a good op­por­tu­nity to try out some of the other car­mak­ers’ of­fer­ings.

Ob­vi­ously the XC40 lacks the ex­traseat ca­pa­bil­ity of these four, but let’s just park that anom­aly. I only got to ex­plore the Disco Sport and Ko­diaq, but what I no­ticed when I got into each of them was how tra­di­tional they felt. How leather-and-plas­tic the cab­ins were. The Volvo is so fresh and modern that, put sim­ply, it makes oth­ers feel dull and staid in com­par­i­son. The un­var­nished wood and huge touch­screen are stand­out fea­tures of the XC40 cabin for me. No piano-black tack­i­ness in here. The Volvo is also re­lax­ing to drive, and I sus­pect part of that re­lax­ation is down to the Scandi cabin, but the engine/ gear­box combo is also very well matched. The Ko­diaq and Disco Sport are both very ac­com­plished dy­nam­i­cally and eas­ily ca­pa­ble of the fam­ily tasks ahead of them, but the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence of the XC40 just works best for my needs.

Which is why, when given the choice of which car to take at the week­end, the Volvo re­mains my top choice. OK, so cream leather isn’t ideal for coun­try walks, but with ju­di­cious welly-boot re­moval, even that’s not a huge worry.

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