Volvo’s SUV family is finally complete. Following the flagship XC90, and the brilliant XC60 filling the middle gap, South African’s now have a new kid on the block in the form of Volvo’s smallest SUV – the XC40.
The XC40 is not only a new model, but an entirely new start for Volvo. It is the first Volvo to utilise the new CMA platform, to be shared by future compact Volvos, Geely and Lynk & Co models. And thanks to their new owners Geely, Volvo has certainly been on a roll since being taken over in 2010. Much like its XC60 sibling, the sophisticated and classy XC40 gains “Thor’s Hammer” headlamps, a three-dimensional grille that sits snugly below the clamshell hood and the chunky bumpers with several sharp lines and air intakes – add up to the fetching exterior. The dual-tone coloured XC40 is a strong looking crossover with firm, bold lines that are reminiscent of 2016’s 40.1 concept on which it is based.
The XC40 might look small on the outside, but its interior is surprisingly spacious. Whereas its primary rivals struggle with rear leg room and rear head room, the XC40 has no issues in that area. It sports a simplistic and clean design, in the same vein as its larger XC60 and XC90 siblings. The centre console is dominated by a large vertical screen. If you haven’t encountered one of the new generation Volvo SUVs, you might think this layout is a tad bizarre, but it’s actually very logical. The 9-inch infotainment screen houses the controls for the climate control, audio system, seat customization, and navigation.
While some of its rivals still use dated instrument clusters, the XC40 embraces technology and proudly showcases its 12.3-inch digital driver display. The system is an all-in-one display that shows the driver everything from navigation directions, to telephone details, to actual road signs. Its R-Design sport seats finished in a mix of leather and Nubuck are extremely comfortable on long journeys, whilst offering plenty of lateral support, should you wish to hurry the T5 along. It should be mentioned that both the drivers and passenger front seats are electrically operated, with the drivers’ having a memory function too. And because this is the R-Design version, it gets an R-Design sports steering with steering mounted gearshift paddles, an R-Design gear knob and pedals, R-Design carpets - and my personal favourite – the R-Design aluminium interior trimmings.
However, despite being well appointed, the XC40’s option list is pretty long. That said, there are few niceties that we would definitely spring for if we were in the market for an XC40. For starters, we would like the R16 000 panoramic sunroof, which extends almost the length of the SUV. Next up, we would like the convenience that comes with an electrically operated tail gate – pity it adds R5800 to the price. Another option that should be standard equipment, but is not, is a reverse camera, priced at R6600. And probably the niftiest feature available is Volvo’s Intellisafe Assist system, which includes Adaptive Cruise Control and Pilot Assist, and costs R19 200. Adaptive Cruise Control automatically helps you keep a set speed and distance to the vehicle in front, while Pilot Assist semi-autonomous drive adds gentle steering support to help keep the SUV centred in its lane.
In typical Volvo fashion, the T5 is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-litre 4-cylinder motor, and in this application produces an impressive 185kw and 350nm, available from 1,800rpm all the way to 4,800rpm. Thanks to this incredibly wide power band, there is always adequate power on tap. Power is sent to all four wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission. While, it’s no ball of fire, the T5 is certainly brisk, capable of 0-100kph in a Golf GTI-rivalling 6.4 seconds, and it will keep accelerating until it maxes out at 230kph. Make no mistake about it, this crossover is very quick for what it is. Unfortunately, all that performance comes with a trade-off, and that is sadly fuel consumption. While Volvo claim it will average 7.7L/100kms, we managed to achieve a best of 9.2L/100kms – significantly off the manufacturers’ claims.
As expected, the XC40 boasts a 5 star Euro NCAP safety rating. In fact, thanks to its score of 97 percent for adult occupant protection, this puts the XC40 amongst the top five cars for this area tested by Euro NCAP in the past three years. It also scored 87% for child occupant safety, 71% for vulnerable road user (which includes pedestrians and cyclists) protection and 76% for its safety assistance technology. Aside from featuring six airbags, it gets Collision Mitigation Support, Lane Keeping Assist, Park Assist, Hill start assist and Hill Descent Control as standard equipment.
The funky XC40 finds itself in a very competitive segment, going up some strong competition in the form of the BMW X2, Range Rover Evoque, Jaguar E-PACE and Mercedes-Benz GLA to name a few. Volvo is aiming to capture a younger market with the XC40, hence its youthful design and appointments. While it might not be as engaging as some of its rivals, the Swedish compact crossover does exude a very unique charm while retaining Volvo’s DNA. There is a heavy emphasis on safety and functionality, whilst offering terrific comfort and refinement in one very attractive package.
The XC40 represents the entry-point into Volvo SUV ownership, with the range starting off at R494 400 for the 115kw 3-cylinder 1.5-litre turbo T3 variant. Next up being the sole oil burner in the line-up, the 140kw D4 powered by a 4-cylinder 2.0-litre turbo diesel, and priced from R606 292. The third and final engine derivative in the range is the T5, which while starting off at R616 866, will see you paying R659 100 for the R-Design kitted variant you see here. And as with all Volvos, they all come standard with a 5-year/100 000km maintenance plan.