TALL AND TALLER

Things are look­ing up for up­wardly mo­bile ur­ban­ites in Sin­ga­pore, thanks to this pair of pre­mium com­pact SUVs with per­son­al­ity.

Torque (Singapore) - - CONTENTS - STORY DR KONG YONGYAO PHO­TOS YANG

XC40 T5 R-DE­SIGN vs COOPER S COUN­TRY­MAN

The name that changed the world of crossovers. Who would have thunk it? Nis­san jacked up a hatch­back, gave it the thinnest of pre­tences to rugged­ness and started a 21st cen­tury au­to­mo­tive gold rush.

Kad­jar, HR-V, C-HR, Eclipse Cross, Rene­gade, Ateca, Karoq, Tiguan… The names are as nu­mer­ous as they are funky. Yet, for a few years now, the in­dus­try only had the eter­nally weird MINI Coun­try­man as a bul­wark against the tide of un­re­lent­ing bland­ness in the seg­ment. Hap­pily, the com­pact cross­over has ma­tured some­what since the niche was first flooded with face­less penalty-boxes, and we are be­gin­ning to see some sem­blance of dis­tinc­tive­ness and flair in the move­ment’s sec­ond decade.

Sud­denly, the chal­lenge to MINI’s idea of a pre­mium com­pact SUV is thus now very in­tense, not least in the form of Volvo’s un­abashedly tall and an­gu­lar XC40. Flush with Chi­nese cash and un­der­go­ing a com­pany-wide re­nais­sance, Volvo has fleshed out its model range down­ward af­ter the more ex­pen­sive 90 se­ries and the as­tound­ingly good XC60. The new XC40 is a car from a car com­pany clearly surg­ing with con­fi­dence and clar­ity of di­rec­tion.

Volvo af­fec­tion­ately de­clares its en­trant a “tough lit­tle robot”, which, look­ing at the two-tone colour, an­gu­lar lines and robob­ull­dog stance, strikes me as a stroke of ge­nius.

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