VOLVO XC40 vs AUDI Q2 vs BMW X2 vs JAG E-PACE
Volvo’s XC40 looks set to lure buyers in the burgeoning premium small SUV class, but Germany and Britain have other ideas
New Swede hits out to herd premium SUV flock its way
NOWADAYS, the way we use apps to dine, date, hail a taxi, and even watch TV seems incredibly normal, but did anybody foresee any of this a decade ago?
Same oe fo th fledglin subset premium compact SUVS streaming into buyers’ consciousness the world over. Yes, we’d seen underwheeled frumps like the 2009 BMW X1 but until the Range Rover Evoque swaggered into view during 2011, cashed-up but compact-minded buyers simply didn’t have a seriously stylish SUV option in their sights.
Since then, design-led premium-brand compact SUV contenders have spread like modernist furniture fanciers, driving a class that has jumped 20 percent year-on-year (or roughly the amount the premium medium set has slipped…), with the rather hatch-like (and set for replacement in 2019) Mercedes-benz GLA currently wearing the small-suv sales tiara.
Bu no for long, if he ates posse of premium petite hopefuls have their way, as witnessed by this quartet of 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol Europeans, with the intriguing Volvo XC40 the newest kid on the block.
Described as brandishing ‘Prada trainers’ playfulness against bigger brother XC60’S ‘suede casuals’ and the full-sized XC90’S ‘black dress-shoes’ formality, the suave, distinctive Swede debuts Volvo’s box-fresh Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) co-developed with the brand’s Chinese owner Geely, and destined for a bunch of future ‘40’ series models.
Four variants are available, each with all-wheel drive, starting with the $47,990 XC40 T5 Momentum petrol and – for $3K extra – a D4 Momentum diesel. Ours is a $54,990 T5 R-design (the racier one that includes 20-inch alloys and a black roof, as well as a powered tailgate, leather, and cornering LEDS) in since sold-out Launch Edition semblance, adding $6670 worth of kit including heated seats, radar cruise, sunroof, park assist and high-end audio, for what is a compelling $56,740. Gothenburg is serious about ruling this nascent niche.
But so is Jaguar with its new E-pace baby SUV, whic make mocker of olvo’s ine-up implicit by bombarding buyers with almost 10 times as much choice, consisting of two petrols and three diesels spanning 38 variants in total. All AWD for now, the humble D180 costs $ 47 , 750 – a record low for the marque.
That said, the Brit’s appeal is highly spec dependent. What is menacing in the $85K HSE P300 R-dynamic looks less wildcat and more Care Bear cutesy in the S P250 at $57,600. Our Borasco Grey E-pace tester leapt to $70,880, yet still trailed the XC40’S spec, since DAB+ digital radio and adaptive cruise weren’t included.
Just behind in terms of arrival and pricing is the BMW X2 from $49,900 for the sdrive18i, or $55,900 for the sdrive2.0i M Sport X Package. Our test X2 cost $66,860 due to a $4000 Launch Pack (enhanced nav, sunroof, head-up display), $2700 Comfort Pack (keyless entry plus better seats with electric lumbar and heating up front) and 40 adaptive ampers. By he way, ‘M port X’ translates to subtle Outback-esque body cladding.
Note, however, that ‘sdrive’ denotes front-wheel drive. For on-demand AWD parity with the others, please consult the $59,900 xdrive2.0d diesel (before options). An all-paw X2 petrol variant is not for Oz, for now.
So why not go for an X1 instead? Because, as the cliche goes, it’s the differences that make the X2 better. Sure, both sit on the same wheelbase and tracks, but the X2 is shorter, lower and wider, with slightly more front overhang yet substantially less at the rear to give it a sleeker, spunkier and aerodynamically superior silhouette. The body and platform have been beefed up, with more sophisticated dampers, better bushes and thicker anti-roll bars fitted, and the X2 gets 15:1 fixedratio steering (instead of a 16:1 variable-ratio set-up).
However, BMW’S controversial collision-mitigation tech (similar to AEB) still won’t perform a complete stop.