Volvo XC40 D4 AWD First Edition22 | 03 | 2018Scotcars rating

    Volvo dives into the premium compact SUV segment; does the new XC40 hit the right note?

    ONE OF THE most competitive and burgeoning sectors in the car world is that of the compact SUVs. Traditionally dominated by the Germans, the establishment was first unsettled with the arrival of the Range Rover Evoque. This year we’ve seen the addition of the Jaguar E-Pace, and now the newly-crowned European Car of the Year, the Volvo XC40. Does the Swede deserve the accolade? (Related: Volvo XC40 wins Euro Car of the Year)

    Already Volvo has taken the fight to the Germans with its latest XC90 and XC60 models. Now, the refreshing lines and charm of the XC40 — which boasts significant styling changes from its bigger brothers — is ready to rock the longstanding dominant models in the sector. (Relate: New Volvo dealership for John Clark Motor Group)

    There’s no denying the styling of the XC40 is both striking and bold. Built on Volvo’s all new CMA (Compact Modular Architecture) platform – which is likely to spawn a V40 hatch and BMW 3 Series-rivaling S40 compact saloon — the XC40 is certainly different.

    Its design gives you an impression of tough solidity; yet it never appears brash or aggressive. At the same time it conveys an attractive element of dynamism, while leaving you with an overall feeling of being safe. It is, after all, a Volvo.

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    But it’s a Volvo for the modern day, and modern driver. Not only is it striking and clever, but it’s most definitely desirable.

    The range will, eventually, include the choice of three turbocharged petrol and two diesel engines, with a choice of two-wheel or four-wheel drive, and either six-speed manual or eight-speed auto. There will also be six different trim levels.

    First up though is the fully loaded First Edition models either as a 247bhp 2.0-litre T5 AWD petrol, or 187bhp 2.0-litre D4 AWD diesel. Given the vast majority of XC40s in the UK are predicted to be diesel-powered — an indication of how savvy and switched-on Volvo drivers are in that they recognise the environmental benefits of a Euro6 diesel — it’s the D4 AWD version, priced at £39,905, we drive. (Related: Scots car giant plans new Volvo dealership)

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    Before we go any further, it’s important to highlight the range will start at £27,905. That said, by the time you spec the car to your preferences — most probably cool Inscription Pro rather than plain Momentum or sporty R-Design, and with that 1590 quid auto box — you’ll be in the £32,000-£34,000 range.

    Worth highlighting too that the Swedish carmaker is introducing a new Care by Volvo package. It says it allows ‘owners’ to ’subscribe’ to the XC40. In reality, what is means is paying £795 a month, for 24 months, then handing the car back to Volvo.

    Volvo emphasises the package does though include insurance, servicing, repayment and even a concierge service under one umbrella payment. It also includes the use of any other Volvo model for 14 days within any 12 month period. But it’s still expensive, and currently only available within the M25.

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    More realistically, the First Edition can be had on a 48-month PCP for £389/month, plus a deposit of £2334, with a 10,000-mile annual allowance. Much more sensible and attractive.

    There’s no denying the XC40 has every right to be part of the XC family. In fact, it’s difficult to think of a Volvo which is more satisfying to drive, or be driven in. It feels perfectly tuned for the audience at which it’s aimed — that’s the 35-year-old, young professionals, according to Volvo — and delivers perky performance, both in town and cross-country. It’ll also simply gobble up the motorway miles.

    There’s an encouraging and appealing verve to the way the XC40 drives. This is no docile, boring Volvo. It enjoys something of a spring in its step and rides nicely, ensuring occupants feel cosseted thanks to the right amount of cushioning and roll resistance.

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    And actually, if you do decide to chuck it round the corners of your favourite B-road, you’ll find the XC40 props is self up well in the corners, allowing you to fully enjoy your fun.

    The front-end of the car is precise and alert, allowing you to maximise the fast steering rack, which means you don’t need to turn it much to change direction.

    Inside the cabin, there’s the now typical feel good ambience Volvo has instilled in its current generation of models, and especially its SUVs. It’s a quiet, calming environment, aided by excellent insulation from suspension, road and wind noise.

    The driving position is good, as is all-round visibility, though with its short, squat bonnet, you might find you need to set the seat a tad higher than normal simply to see the front-end of the car, especially in urban situations.

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    Of course, you can tick the option box to have cameras spotted all round the car — it’s standard on the First Edition — and that certainly helps eliminate any blindspots. I never fail to be amazed by the real-time overhead shot which perfectly aids parking.

    The fascia is dominated by Volvo’s now standard 9.0in portrait-oriented touchscreen infotainment system, and 12in configurable digital instruments. First Edition cars also get Volvo’s semi-autonomous Pilot Assist lane-keeping system, a powered tailgate, a 13-speaker audio system, plus plenty of other expensive goodies.

    Space in the front is very good, with superbly comfortable seats, and there’s a big boot — larger than it appears from outside, and aided by the origami-like folding floor which allows you create smaller, secure stowage areas for items like shopping bags — plus acceptable rear seat space. Cleverly, the luggage cover also stores simply under the boot floor, when not required.

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    Cabin stowage is good too, with a number of clever binnacles and even a removable wastebin in the centre console.

    As for tech? Well the XC40 impresses again. City Safety, active lane keep, pedestrian detection, the Volvo on Call phone app and Sensus Connect (internet and apps via a SIM card) are all standard. My test car was also fitted with the Intellisafe Pro pack that includes adaptive cruise and Pilot Assist.

    Volvo seems to have hit the compact SUV nail fairly and squarely on the head, ticking every box in the current modern crossover brief. For modern-day living, the XC40 combines the right size, with the right styling, quality and — perhaps more than anything in these days of self-awareness and promotion — the right image.

    There’s a simple reason it was crowned European Car of the Year: it’s the best in class. But I’d go as far as to say it’s the best car Volvo currently makes.

    Related: Roadtest — Volvo V90 Cross Country

    Keep up-to-date with all the latest news by following us on twitter.com/Scotcars

    Jim McGill

     

    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £39,905 / £39,905
    Engine / Power: 4cyl inline, 1969cc, turbocharged diesel with 8-spd auto / 187bhp
    How fast?: 0-62mph 7.9sec / Max 130mph
    How big/heavy?: L4425mm W2034mm (incl mirrors) H1658mm / 1735kg
    How thirsty/CO2?: 55.4mpg combined / 135g/km CO2
    InsGP/Road tax: 30E / n/a
    Alternatives: Audi Q3 2.0TDI quattro, BMW X1 xDrive20d, Jaguar E-Pace, Mercedes GLA

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