The Swedish man­u­fac­turer's first ever at­tempt at a not-so-large SUV is all set to spice up the in­creas­ingly com­pet­i­tive pre­mium com­pact SUV seg­ment

Evo India - - CONTENTS - Test lo­ca­tion: Barcelona, Spain Pho­tog­ra­phy: Volvo

TTHE SWEDES COULDN'T HAVE timed it bet­ter with their first ever at­tempt at a com­pact SUV. BMW's new X1 is a sea change from the pre­vi­ous car and Audi is all set to in­tro­duce the Q2, which is com­pletely dif­fer­ent from the Q3. The Range Rover Evoque is al­ready dif­fer­ent from ev­ery­thing else around it and of­fers a won­der­ful al­ter­na­tive to those look­ing for a pre­mium com­pact SUV. In fact, the only pre­mium com­pact SUV that is not due for change is the Mercedes-Benz GLA Class. Quite frankly, the pre­mium com­pact SUV end of the In­dian au­to­mo­tive mar­ket has never been more dy­namic. Into this chang­ing sce­nario will soon come the new XC40.

About eight years ago, Volvo, once seen as a man­u­fac­turer only in­ter­ested in safe cars, rein­vented it­self. No, it didn't move away from its core com­pe­tence of mak­ing the safest ve­hi­cles in the world. But it did add other things into the caul­dron. Style. Dy­nam­ics. Panache. Cru­cially, de­sir­abil­ity. And then, the Swedes di­alled it up a notch with the in­tro­duc­tion of the all-new XC90, about three years ago.

From de­sign to driv­ing dy­nam­ics, the new XC90 looked fresh, felt fresh and drove with re­newed vigour. The up­ward move­ment on the de­sir­abil­ity scale started by the big SUV con­tin­ued with the in­tro­duc­tion of the new XC60 in De­cem­ber 2017. And now, poised in the wings for its In­dian de­but is Volvo's first ever pre­mium com­pact SUV, the XC40.

What’s new?

Ev­ery­thing. You see, Volvo has never had a pre­mium com­pact SUV in its port­fo­lio ever be­fore. This is also the first time in the his­tory of the Swedish man­u­fac­turer that it will of­fer a choice of three SUVs to cus­tomers world­wide. The XC40 is the first of the ve­hi­cles to be built on Volvo's new mod­u­lar ve­hi­cle ar­chi­tec­ture, which the com­pany calls CMA (Com­pact Mod­u­lar Ar­chi­tec­ture) and has been code­vel­oped with par­ent com­pany Geely.

This is a big move to­wards greater flex­i­bil­ity of de­vel­op­ment and scale of pro­duc­tion since a mod­u­lar ar­chi­tec­ture will al­low Volvo, Geely and Lynk & Co – a Geely au­to­mo­tive brand po­si­tioned be­tween it­self and Volvo - to use the same mod­ules to pro­duce dif­fer­ent ve­hi­cles. In fact, all fu­ture 40 se­ries Volvos in­clud­ing fully elec­tric ones will have this CMA as their un­der­pin­nings.

What else?

The XC40 gets two en­gine op­tions for now. The petrol ver­sion is pow­ered by Volvo's T5 four-cylin­der tur­bocharged 1969cc unit while the diesel gets the D4 2-litre twin-turbo unit. In both cases, trans­mis­sion is via an 8-speed au­to­matic. The XC40 also ben­e­fits from the now de rigueur drive modes. Five of them in fact – Eco, Com­fort, Dy­namic, Off Road and In­di­vid­ual.

In terms of sus­pen­sion, the front gets a McPher­son strut while the rear gets a mul­ti­link axle. The front and rear axles can be tuned for dy­namic driv­ing. This is the XC40's stan­dard set­ting. The op­tional Sport tun­ing en­sures more con­trolled body move­ments by us­ing stiffer springs, dampers and anti-roll bars. The top-of-the-line Four C set­ting, also op­tional, uses elec­tron­i­cally con­trolled dampers.

Steer­ing is an elec­tro-me­chan­i­cal rack and pin­ion unit that has been op­ti­mised by Volvo for use in all-weather con­di­tions, in­clud­ing win­ter. Volvo of course is re­fer­ring to a snow-bound Swe­den when it says win­ter. While the sys­tem can be per­son­alised to suit in­di­vid­ual driv­ing pref­er­ences, the stan­dard speed de­pen­dent sys­tem en­sures ease of driv­ing in both tight park­ing spa­ces as well as out on the open high­ways.

Skin deep

Strangely enough the Swedes seem to be speak­ing Ger­man these days for the new XC40 looks like a younger brother of the new XC60, which in turn looks like the younger brother of the mam­moth XC90 with its Thor's ham­mer head­lamp de­sign, that large grille and over­all pro­por­tions and mus­cu­la­ture. Asked about it, the Swedes are quick with their repar­tees. Fam­ily face, de­sign lan­guage and so on pop up like kiosks on a beach in peak tourist sea­son. We've seen it be­fore. Sev­eral times. And yet, Volvo has man­aged to cre­ate sub­tle dif­fer­ences be­tween the faces of its three SUV sib­lings. Just enough to make the XC40 a wee bit more youth­ful and play­ful in its de­meanour. As a re­sult, the XC40 does not look iden­ti­cal to the other two. It merely re­sem­bles its big­ger brothers. Strongly, but it's still only a re­sem­blance and not a case of con­gru­ence. In any case, the XC40 cuts a de­sir­able sil­hou­ette and looks good.

On the in­side again, the XC40 is packed with pretty much all the good­ies you'd see in the big­ger Volvo SUVs – the XC90 and the new XC60. The cabin feels nice and airy and is over­all a lovely place to be in. Dash­board lay­out and that huge tab like con­trol panel feel fa­mil­iar and Swedish de­sign el­e­ments like the sculpted starter but­ton and jewel like knobs feel rich, ex­actly like it does in the XC90, XC60 and the S90 sedan. It's pretty spa­cious too. So you can eas­ily fit in five adults with­out too much of a squeeze. And the seats are su­per com­fort­able too. Some­thing that seems to have be­come a Volvo trait since the new XC90.

On the go

Ne­go­ti­at­ing through the Span­ish traf­fic, the XC40's com­pact di­men­sions (it's just over 4m long and 2m wide) make it easy to ma­noeu­vre through tight gaps or nar­row lanes. That speed de­pen­dent steer­ing feels light and easy to use as we dart through gaps in traf­fic at Euro­pean round­abouts, where giv­ing way to peo­ple from the left who have right of way is the norm and not the ex­cep­tion. Out on the high­way, it weighs up nicely in tan­dem with the speedo. Of course, like all new steer­ing units im­bued with elec­tronic gim­mickry, it's not the rich­est in feed­back but it's rea­son­ably ac­cu­rate.

Once out on the Span­ish au­topista the en­gines, both petrol and diesel, re­veal them­selves as will­ing com­pan­ions to a de­sire for quick driv­ing. This is largely due to the torque that has been spread out nicely over the en­gines' rev ranges. While in the case of the diesel en­gine, where the peak torque of 400Nm kicks in at 1750rpm and stays till 2500, this is ex­pected, the petrol en­gine's torque spread is what is amaz­ing. 350Nm of max torque comes in as early as 1800 revs and stays with you all the way through to 4800! This torquey na­ture of the en­gines means that even pot­ter­ing at city speeds or runs be­tween traf­fic lights are ac­com­plished with­out much ef­fort. The petrol how­ever is quicker to rev and if you're in­ter­ested in spir­ited driv­ing, feels more re­ward­ing with its perky re­sponse to the right foot.

Even out on the twists and turns of the moun­tains, the en­gines are more than will­ing to keep up with one's an­tics. It is here how­ever that the trans­mis­sion, again in both cases, be­gins to show chinks. Quick shifts take a mo­ment longer than ideal. This is some­what cured by stick­ing the thing in man­ual mode but even then it's nowhere near as quick as the dou­ble clutch ‘box of one Ger­man maker.

Also, thanks to the SUV's fo­cus on com­fort, and it is ex­tremely com­fort­able at all sorts of speeds over all kinds of roads, dy­nam­ics do take a hit. It's not as if the XC40 is in­ca­pable of tak­ing a turn but there's healthy un­der­steer when you want to cor­ner at a fast clip. This is an SUV and there is a good bit of body roll too. Noth­ing un­com­fort­able but enough to re­mind you that you aren't driv­ing a shorty. Thank­fully, the dampers work very well to re­duce the body roll, pre­vent­ing the ve­hi­cle from wal­low­ing.


The Volvo XC40 will bring in a whole host of safety fea­tures. So ex­pect things like City Safety pack­age that will en­sure max­i­mum safety for oc­cu­pants, pedes­tri­ans, cy­clists and large an­i­mal de­tec­tion. Ex­pect tech­nolo­gies that will mit­i­gate risks in case of be­ing faced with on­com­ing traf­fic in your lane – an all too fre­quent oc­cur­rence in our coun­try. Be­sides it gets Volvo's unique semi-au­ton­o­mous tech­nolo­gies that steers the ve­hi­cle at speeds up to 130kmph when the ve­hi­cle senses no in­put from the driver (don't think this will come in handy in In­dia even if you can buy it).

It will also get 18-inch wheels, that 9-inch in­fo­tain­ment tab, a 12.3-inch TFT colour in­stru­ment panel and more. There is also an in­no­va­tive cover for the boot floor that can be folded up to cre­ate a sep­a­ra­tor in­side the boot that will help bet­ter or­gan­ise things. It's a lovely com­fort­able com­pact SUV that will trans­port a fam­ily of four (or five) from any­where to any­where with a high de­gree of plush­ness for fit and fin­ish is very good.

Volvo's launch plans for In­dia aren't firmed up yet but it was made clear that both the petrol and the diesel will ar­rive, and in all prob­a­bil­ity the launch of the ve­hi­cle will be with the range-top­ping ve­hi­cle with all bells and whis­tles. Know­ing Volvo, it will prob­a­bly pur­sue an ag­gres­sive pric­ing strat­egy to of­fer great value to you, its cus­tomer. ⌧

The petrol is quicker to rev and if you’re in­ter­ested in spir­ited driv­ing, feels more re­ward­ing

1: Er­gonomics are ex­tremely well sorted. So no fa­tigue, even af­ter long drives. 2: Love this tab. It's easy to use and adds a huge dash of pre­mium. 3: Scan­di­na­vian de­sign touch all too ev­i­dent in that tail lamp de­sign 1



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