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