Unboxing Volvo’s new XC40 T5 baby SUV
XC40 is compact in relation to an XC60 (263mm shorter), but it’s still 260mm longer than the likes of a Hyundai Kona.
In relation to its obvious rivals, XC40 is a little shorter than an X2 and just a pinch longer than the E-Pace. But tall of course: about the same height as big-brother XC60.
The Forty is based on Volvo’s Compact Modular Architecture (CMA), which is different to SPA but is still compatible with all the same technology.
So we’ll say no more about that.
The model you’re looking at is the flagship $72,900 T5 R-Design AWD, which is leading the charge of the ‘‘tough little robot’’ (that’s what lead designer Ian Kettle calls the XC40). But from June there will be a much wider range, starting at $59,900 and including two other trim levels – the base version with FWD. All have versions of Volvo’s 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine.
A plug-in hybrid XC40, with a three-cylinder petrol engine and lithium-ion battery pack, has just been revealed at the Beijing Auto Show. Although that’s obviously a little way off for us.
Actually, the car you’re looking at here is the T5 R-Design Launch Edition, which adds $6000 to the price but brings the Driver Support Pack (Volvo’s brilliant must-have adaptive cruise with Pilot Assist, 360-degree camera and automated parking), Lifestyle Pack (tinted windows, power folding rear seats, panoramic sunroof and Harman Kardon sound system), heated front seats and alarm.
As you can tell from the judicious use of the word ‘‘Pack’’, you can specify any T5 to the same level, although it would cost a total of $81,285.
On the outside, the XC40 is clearly a Volvo but very much its own thing in terms of detail and proportion. The same is true of the interior, which has familiar switchgear and the nowsignature Sensus nine-inch portrait-shape touch screen. But it also has a look and feel of its own – the materials are cheaper than an XC90 for sure, but the textures and tiny details are a lot more interesting.
The XC40 absolutely reeks of clever Volvo stuff. It’s a spacious cabin (thank you, box-shape), but you’re also surrounded by surprise-and-delight features.
Like the orange carpet in our test vehicle?
It’s made from recycled PET soft-drink bottles and colour is called Lava. The XC40 is full of conversation-starters like this.
The door bins are massive because there are no speakers in them (they’ve been replaced by something called an ‘‘air woofer"), there are storage bins everywhere, the centre console can hold a box of tissues and the phone charging pad is actually large enough for modern largescreen mobiles (this rarely happens).
The boot has a few tricks of its own.
It’s a pretty decent size as it is, but the floor concertinas up to form a partition that also includes hooks to hang your shopping bags on. If you’re looking for maximum cargo space by folding the rear seats down, the luggage cover can be stored in a nook under the floor.
Seems natural to get to the driving experience last. While many sporty models are designed from the ground up, you get the feeling many Volvos are designed from the inside out.
Stands to reason, then, that the XC40 is not the most engaging drive in its class. In T5 form it’s certainly fast (0-100kmh in 6.5sec) and the powertrain feels fizzy indeed.
But the steering is devoid of feel and there’s a dichotomy between the T5’s aggressive rimand-tyre setup and the XC40’s comfort-oriented chassis. It can certainly get around a corner quickly and safely, but it doesn’t always feel that confident doing so: there’s quite a bit of adjustment required from the driver to keep the momentum up.
Speaking of safety: you can’t avoid the topic with a Volvo.
The XC40’s CMAbase picks up everything from the larger SPA models and then some: blind-spot warning, collision warning, lane-keep, ‘‘mitigation’’ aids for everything from oncoming traffic to running off the road, whiplash protection and tyre pressure monitoring. The XC40 also gets a new iteration of Rear Cross Traffic Alert, which can not only recognise approaching traffic/ cyclists/pedestrians, but also brake the car automatically.
Are you a luxury carmaker? Then you need a quirky baby-SUV for 2018. This is Volvo’s: the XC40.