The smallest SUV from Volvo is going to break hearts… in a good way. The brand new XC40 is a compact five-seater that is very well designed inside and out. Built on the new CMA small car platform the five-door is aimed squarely at growing premium SUV crossover market. At present there is a massive appetite among buyers, particularly Millennials, for these chunkier machines. We put it through its paces in Barcelona at its global launch.
The attention to detail is in keeping with the ‘can do no wrong’ current styling from the famous Swedish brand. The XC40 completes the XC range with the larger 60 and bigger again 90 that have both shook up the premium SUV sector. All our fears, as motoring hacks, about Volvo losing its identity under Chinese ownership have so far failed to materialise. Geely is a ridiculously huge company and also a very clever operation.
Geely knows the immense value Volvo’s heritage and has left well enough alone in a similar way to how Tata has kept its paws off its Jaguar Land Rover group. When you combine the Swede’s obsessive desire to drive safety with contemporary design then result is never really in any doubt. The exterior looks really solid, its wider at the rear than at the front and this adds to the car looking like a giant Tonka kids toy that at any moment could be picked up by a giant hand. Being a Volvo, of course there is a host of safety features both physically inbuilt and electronic. All of the latest driving aids like ‘city safety’ that aim to keep passengers and the vehicle intact are available.
Inside, the cabin is full of considered materials and clever design. There is clever detailing all around like the huge side door pockets. Volvo listened to its customers and simply moved the bulky side speakers out of the door panel to a higher location – freeing up space. Volvo also added a pull out bin in the centre console plus a number of other clever touches and hidden cubbies that buyers will feel very content about.
Four grades are being launched in Ireland: Kinetic is the entry point (circa 15% of sales), Momentum (40%), the sportier R Design (20%) and Inscription (25%) that tops the range. Most new car buyers in Ireland skip the entry model and go for the level 2 or higher. Momentum gets more exterior chrome – while R Design goes down the sexy shiny black route with its exterior look.
The XC40 is light and surprisingly nimble to drive. Two suspension setups are available. The standard is progressive and allows some body roll when cornering hard but is utterly linear and predictable and overall feels as good as any setup from premium rivals. The R Design has a sports suspension option that turns the little family friendly machine into a GTi-like handler. The car corners beautifully flat and you can really have a giggle with the sporty set up. The T5 petrol R Design I tested sadly won’t be coming to our shores but it was a hoot to drive once you got the revs up. The R Design is quite distinct with features like the black roof, mirror caps, twin exhausts (versus a faux skid plate) and 5-spoke 18 inch alloys. It is this version that gives the new Jaguar E Pace a serious run for its money.
Power comes from a petrol and diesel four-cylinder (2 litre) engine range initially. A three-cylinder is on the way as is a hybrid and EV version too. The 150hp D3 is the entry diesel and this will account for 60% of the engine range. It is available in FWD (front wheel drive) or AWD (all wheel drive) with a choice of a 6 speed manual or an 8 speed automatic gearbox. The entry petrol model is the FWD T3. Petrol represents a small but growing fuel choice in the sector and Volvo expects it to account for 25% of engines with the XC40. The T3 pushes out 153hp. A T4 with 190hp and an auto box is the petrol range topper for now. A 190hp D4 is the most powerful diesel with 190hp/400nm, AWD and an auto gearbox.
‘Care by Volvo’ is a clever new car subscription service or rental scheme to you and me. For one monthly fee everything is covered – including drivers insurance and all the vehicle’s maintenance. It will be offered to buyers in Ireland towards the end of 2018.
Pricing for Ireland is being finalised but we can tell you the XC40 T3 FWD will starts from €38,900 (tax band C) and the D4 starts from €47,450. Volvo Ireland expects to sell 230 XC40s in 2018 and 300 in 2019. Semi autonomous driving is available in the XC40with Pilot Assist.