Road test: Volvo XC40
The new Volvo XC40 is right up with the best premium SUVs of this size.
What is it?
A hybrid version will be produced, but hasn’t been confirmed for the UK yet. The most economical front-wheel-drive D3 diesel emits a competitive 127g/km of CO2.
How green is it?
Well, there’s no hybrid version and surprisingly no diesel, at least for now. The 1.5-litre petrol achieves 42.8mpg on the combined cycle, which is reasonable for a petrol SUV.
Who should buy one?
You’ll need relatively deep pockets, but in our view this is the best of the XC family. Anyone looking for a premium SUV of this size should take a test drive.
Road test by David Motton, June 2018
DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
Volvo offers buyers a choice of three petrol engines with 154bhp, 187bhp and 244bhp. There are two diesels, with 148bhp and 187bhp.
We’ve driven the most powerful petrol and diesel models. Early orders for the T5 petrol have been very strong, according to Volvo, and it’s easy to see why. This is a quick and assured car, with plentiful punch for decisive overtaking. It’s a refined engine as well as a powerful one, and the eight-speed auto shifts smoothly to make the most of its performance.
Although the market has been shifting in favour of petrol over diesel power, there are good reasons to choose the D4 diesel. It may not match the power of the range-topping petrol, but with 295lb ft of torque it pulls with real determination. There’s a distant gruffness from under the bonnet that can’t match the smoother, more cultured tones of the T5, but for many buyers the diesel’s real-world fuel economy advantage will be enough to sway the decision in favour of the D4.
Either way, the XC40 is an enjoyable car to drive. The limited-run First Edition cars we drove are based on R-Design specification, with stiffer sports suspension. Even so, the XC40 rides with fluent composure. You feel sharp-edged imperfections in the road surface, but for the most part Volvo’s engineers have deftly balanced comfort and control.
The Drive Mode system allows the driver to tailor the car’s steering, gearbox and throttle responses, with a choice of Eco, Comfort, Dynamic and Individual settings (Individual allows a mix-and-match approach to the other modes). Dynamic adds some weight to the steering, a more aggressive response to the throttle and more prompt downshifts from the auto ‘box, but for regular driving we found the Comfort setting struck the right compromise.
Aside from some road noise, especially over coarse surfaces, the XC40 is quiet at speed. It’s a car in which we’d be more than happy to tackle long drives, confident we’d arrive at our destination feeling fresh.
SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
Considering that the XC40 is the smallest of the XC family, it’s surprisingly roomy inside.
By SUV standards, the driver sits quite low to the floor, certainly with the seat on its lowest setting. But there’s enough height adjustment to get a loftier seating position if preferred.
The dashboard design is modern and uncluttered, and the standard of finish is as high as we’ve come to expect from Volvo.
What we hadn’t expected was so much space in the back of the car, with enough head and legroom for a 6′ 3″ passenger to sit behind an equally tall driver without rubbing their knees on the front seat. The car is relatively narrow, though, so sitting three abreast would be a bit of a squeeze.
The boot has a 460-litre capacity. That’s not the biggest among its rivals, but there’s no load lip to load items over and it’s easy to make the most of the square shape. Seat folded, boot space increases to 1336 litres.
Volvo’s reputation for safety is hard-earned and well deserved. Although Euro NCAP has yet to publish test results for the XC40, the larger XC60 earned the highest scores of any car tested by Euro NCAP, so it seems highly unlikely the XC40 won’t earn the maximum five stars. Autonomous emergency braking is fitted to all versions, and we’ve only marked it down slightly because over-shoulder visibility could be better.
The most affordable Momentum spec cars have a nine-inch touchscreen, a DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity, satellite navigation, dual-zone climate control and 18-inch alloy wheels. R-Design models have sports suspension, leather upholstery, LED foglamps, tinted rear windows, sportier styling and more. Volvo intends Inscription cars to be more luxurious rather than sporty, so revert to regular suspension, but otherwise feature lots of upgrades. All three main spec levels have ‘Pro’ versions which bundle together popular extras.
The Eclipse Cross is keenly priced and good value, priced from £21,290. It would score more highly if a fuel-efficient diesel version were available. As it is, fuel economy ranges from 42.8mpg on the combined cycle for the 2WD manual to 40.4mpg for the 4WD CVT auto. Service intervals are 12,500 miles of 12 months (whichever comes first) and the car comes with a five-year/62,500-mile warranty – longer than most rivals’.
WE SAY The new Volvo XC40 is right up with the best premium SUVs of this size.
AT A GLANCE:
Performance: 0-62 in 7.9 secs
Figures for the D4 R-Design AWD Auto