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Volvo XC40 compact SUV makes big impression

New XC40 takes Volvo into the premium compact SUV sector. Picture: Volvo

New XC40 takes Volvo into the premium compact SUV sector. Picture: Volvo

Volvo

Volvo’s new XC40 compact is here but can it stand out in a crowded SUV market? Tom Wiltshire finds out.

All-wheel drive is available across the Volvo XC40 range. Picture: VolvoAll-wheel drive is available across the Volvo XC40 range. Picture: Volvo

Volvo’s new XC40 compact SUV – with high ground clearance, four-wheel drive available across the range and the proportions of an SUV – is a scaled-down XC60, not a jacked-up hatchback crossover.

The XC40 sits on a new platform that will underpin several future Volvos. Called CMA (compact modular architecture), it can be used for hybrid and pure electric powertrains but at launch there are only petrol and diesel engines.

Under the bonnet

Volvo XC40 interior is a lovely place to be. Picture: VolvoVolvo XC40 interior is a lovely place to be. Picture: Volvo

T5 petrol and D4 diesel models, both eight-speed automatic, were available at the launch drive. The 247hp 2.0-litre petrol, though smooth and powerful, is noisy when pressed and has high fuel consumption so most sales will be diesels. Though grumbly at low speeds, the 190hp D4 engine quietens down at a cruise and has more than enough shove.

There will also be 150hp D3 diesel and 156hp T3 and 190hp T4 petrols. More powerful models get standard all-wheel drive and automatic transmission, T3 and D3 are also offered with front-wheel drive and six-speed manual.

How it drives

The driving dynamics have been tuned to match the relaxed nature of the interior. Ride comfort is excellent, but optional 19in wheels spoil the low-speed ride around town.

The XC40 remains composed in corners and, despite the cushioned ride, body roll is well controlled, especially with the tighter sports chassis of R-Design trim cars. However, even in this guise, the XC40 is no sports car and adjustable driving modes add little to the experience.

Looks and image

The XC40 is one of the best-looking compact SUVs. Neat proportions give it a pleasingly rugged stance and Volvo’s bold corporate grille dominates the front, flanked by eye-catching ‘Thor’s hammer’ LED daytime running lights.

In keeping with the fashion-conscious buyers Volvo is hoping to attract, the XC40 is available with a wide array of paint colours including dual-tone combinations.

Space and comfort

The interior is a lovely place to be, with great-quality materials and superbly comfortable seats.

The centre console is arranged around Volvo’s nine-inch portrait-oriented touchscreen infotainment system which is slick and works well.

Moving the starter button and drive mode selector from the centre console makes room for a deeper central cubby and removable waste bin, speakers on the dashboard makes wayfor huge door pockets and a superbly-engineered ‘curry hook’ folds down from the glovebox.

Clever touches continue in the decent 460-litre boot, with a multi-function false floor that can hide the parcel shelf, hang bags from and stop shopping rolling around.

Six-footers can sit comfortably in the back.

Final say

The XC40 is a breath of fresh air in a market sector that’s becoming bloated. It’s neat exterior and wonderful interior are sure to earn admiring glances, and it’s every bit as impressive on the road as its upmarket rivals. Generous standard equipment and a predicted class-leading residual value are great too.

SPEC AND TECH

Price: Volvo XC40 D4 from £34,655 (range from £27,905)

Engine: 1,969cc, 190hp, four-cylinder turbo diesel

Performance: 0-62mph 7.9 seconds; top speed 130mph

MPG: 56.5 combined

CO2 emissions: 131g/km

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