When it’s the middle of winter and you’ve got family members to shuttle around the country, you want something comfortable and safe, but it’s nice to have a little bit of style too. The Volvo XC40 delivers all of these things in spades and makes you wonder why you’d need anything bigger.
What is it:
The first ever Volvo XC40 is the baby of the Volvo SUV range and uses the Volvo’s CMA platform, which will be shared by their future small cars. This allows the little Volvo to be both front wheel drive and four-wheel drive, powered by diesel, petrol and petrol/electric engines.
As the XC40 was only released at the end of 2017, it also benefits from the latest safety technology from Volvo’s extensive R&D. As part of this, you get as standard on all XC40s:
· City Safety (includes pedestrian, cyclist and large animal detection, and front collision warning with fully automatic emergency braking, including at junctions)
· Oncoming Lane Mitigation (automatically provides steering assistance if you unwittingly drift out of your lane, guiding you back into your lane and out of the path of any oncoming vehicles)
· Run-off Road Protection (automatically tightens the front seatbelts should the car inadvertently leave the road, while front seat frames with a collapsible section reduce vertical forces to help prevent spinal injuries)
On top of this, our test car came complete with the Intellisafe Pro pack which ads Pilot Assist (up to 80mph), Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Information System, Cross Traffic Alert, Rear Collision Mitigation, Auto-dimming Interior and Exterior Mirrors, Autofolding Door Mirrors.
What does it compete with?
Like in other segments, Volvo is up against the big boys here: BMW x1, Audi Q3, Land Rover Evoque and Jaguar E Pace.
Where the XC40 might not have quite as much sway in the office car park, it certainly has its rivals licked in coolness factor. Price wise it starts from £27,610 putting it right in the middle between the BMW and the Audi
What does it look like?
Like a mini XC90, and that’s no bad thing! Most manufacturers now have massive similarities across their range, and Volvo is not immune to this. Thankfully, Volvo has some of the best designs in the motoring world and manage to combine simple Scandinavian style with a rugged edge that doesn’t look out of place in the Scottish wilderness.
Our test car came in Amazon Blue (baby blue) with charcoal colour leather and had the optional Ice White roof + mirrors with upgraded 19” alloys (£700). We’d probably skip the contrasting roof and baby blue, but we suspect it will be popular with any younger drivers who are lucky enough to be able to afford the XC40.
What tech is it packing?
The XC40 comes as standard with a decent amount of kit, including 9” touchscreen, Volvo On Call (will call the emergency services in an accident situation), full European maps with lifetime updates, internet access (via your phone’s web connection), LED headlights and digital dash display.
Get excited with the options list, like on this XC40, and you can also have the Xenium Pack (pano roof, 360-degree camera and Park Assist Pilot – £1,600), keyless entry/start (£350) and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto (£300).
Of these options, we’d definitely recommend the 360-degree camera from the Xenium Pack but we might just order the adaptive cruise control, rather than all the features from the Intellisafe Pro Pack.
What’s it like to drive?
The current Volvo range is designed to be comfortable, not sporty, and that suits us just fine. Driving around town and on the motorway, the XC40 is the perfect companion for family life. Our test car was the D3 AWD (Diesel) with 150hp and 320Nm of torque.
Compared to this tester’s own Volvo V70 D5, the XC40 actually felt more nimble and faster around town. Only when really pushing on cross-country does the older, bigger capacity engine feel any quicker. This results in the XC40 being a lot more relaxing to drive, especially with the 8 speed automatic. With the 360-degree camera, it’s also a lot easier park and manoeuvre around tight spaces.
The only place where the XC40 doesn’t excel compared to the competition is when trying to make progress cross-country. This is where you do want the suspension to be a little more controlled and a bit more power would be useful out of the bends.
MPG wise, it’s good and not great. With AWD there’s always a compromise of grip vs MPG and in for this test we were averaging under 40MPG with a good amount of motorway driving.
Is it a nice place to spend time
As we said at the start, if you want safety and comfort in a small(ish) package then the XC40 is perfect. The dark charcoal interior does not make it too uplifting, and it’s not quite as glitzy as the XC60 and XC90, but it’s still miles ahead of the BMW X1 in style terms.
As always for Volvo, the seats are some of the most comfortable available and you could easily spend many hours in them.
Should you buy one?
If you are considering a small premium SUV then you really should go and see the Volvo and have a test drive. The relative sedateness, compared to rivals, might put some people off, but most buyers would be hard pushed to fault the comfort or style.