Volvo has another winning formula with the XC40, its first compact SUV, which has really found favour with buyers
Put a desirable badge on an equally desirable compact SUV in a popular, fast-growing market, and it makes a big impact. The XC40, its smallest SUV, won European Car of the Year and is also Volvo’s most successful UK model launch with 2,000 sales a month – double its forecast.
LOOK AND IMAGE
As the model that completes the three-car SUV line-up, Volvo could have just scaled down the XC90 and XC60’s styling, but chose to take a slightly different approach for this ‘urban SUV’, designed primarily for city life. The sportier side profile, with its sharply angled rear side window drawing the eye to the roof, available in a contrast colour, makes it look youthful and trendy.
UNDER THE BONNET
The 2.0-litre turbo engines – at launch 190hp D4 diesel and 247hp T5 petrol, both all-wheel drive and eight-speed automatic – are now joined by 190hp T4 and 150hp D3, the latter also offered with six-speed manual gearbox and front-wheel drive. The XC40 is also the first Volvo with a three-cylinder engine – a 156hp 1.5-litre turbo petrol in frontwheel drive, manual T3. Hybrids are still to come.
HOW IT DRIVES
New platforms have transformed modern Volvos’ dynamics and the XC40 is the first model using the compact modular architecture (CMA) platform that will underpin future small Volvos.
The XC40 takes things to a dynamic new level – nimble enough through twists and turns to make you forget this is still a relatively large SUV with well-weighted steering having good feel.
Even with 20in wheels and R-Design’s uprated sports suspension, the ride copes well with poor surfaces, but there’s a lot of tyre noise. If comfort is a priority, go for smaller wheels and deeper tyres.
SPACE AND COMFORT
It may be the smallest SUV, but it’s roomy enough for four six-foot adults – even three in the back isn’t a squeeze – however the high window line makes it quite dark in the back without the power glass panoramic sunroof.
The 460-litre boot’s sill-level removable floor panel makes loading easy and the rigid parcel shelf fits beneath it when not needed. Rear seats split 60/40 and fold flush.
AT THE WHEEL
The XC40 shares its bigger siblings’ clean-cut, quality cockpit with top-notch materials, good seat and steering wheel adjustment and a minimalist feel to the fascia thanks to customisable virtual dials, according to drive mode, and the nine-inch, tablet-style Sensus infotainment touchscreen that swipes like a smartphone and also benefits from voice control. Don’t worry – using it soon becomes second nature.
Volvo has done it again, storming into the compact SUV market with the XC40 – another winning formula borne out by soaraway sales.