How has our Car of the Year performed?
Mileage 8002 List price £39,905 Target Price na Price as tested £39,905 Test economy 35.6mpg
A LONG-TERM TEST is always a great opportunity to really get to know a car, but just as importantly with the Volvo XC40 that I’ve been running for the past six months, it was a chance to see if diesel still makes sense in SUVS.
Contrary to what you might have heard about diesels being inherently dirty, the best modern examples often emit less NOX than petrol alternatives. That includes Volvo’s 2.0-litre D4 engine, so we were happy to recommend the XC40 with this at our 2018 Car of the Year Awards. While cheaper petrol models have subsequently been introduced, I wouldn’t choose one of these if I had my time again, because they can feel underpowered.
Indeed, the presence of them in the XC40 range merely highlights how impressive the D4 is, combining strong performance with a smoothness and quietness that few other four-cylinder diesels can match. This is despite it being linked to a rather slow-witted automatic gearbox that frequently lets the engine rev higher than it needs to and perhaps goes some way to explaining my disappointing 35.6mpg average fuel economy.
Aside from the fact that you’ll spend more on fuel than you might have thought, the biggest note of caution I’d have for anyone considering an XC40 is that you need to try the different suspension options before buying, because these make a real difference to the way the car rides and handles. With the standard set-up, there’s less of the side-to-side jostling over uneven city streets that you get with my car’s R-design upgrade, but there’s also more body float over fast, undulating roads. XC40S on standard suspension don’t feel as sharp as R-design models, due to extra body lean in corners and higher-profile tyres, but those higher-profile tyres generate less road noise.
Which combination is better overall depends on your priorities. But however you spec your XC40, you’ll be getting a plush interior and some of the most comfortable and supportive seats in the car world.
Volvo also appears to have quietly upgraded its Sensus infotainment system, because my XC40’S touchscreen was far more responsive than the one in the S90 I ran a year ago and the voice control less easily stumped.
Add in a host of seemingly minor features that make a big difference in everyday life – everything from a boot that can be divided up so smaller items don’t slide around, to a smartphone app that lets you remotely cool or heat the car’s interior before you climb in – and the XC40 should definitely be on your shortlist if you’re after a family SUV. Don’t let the fact that a diesel is the pick of the range put you off.
XC40 is sharper to drive with R-design suspension
Touchscreen is far more responsive than earlier S90’s