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Volvo XC40 Detailed Expert Review - May 29, 2018

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Introduction

May 29, 2018 : Expert Review By

Volvo in India may not be as well recognized as its German rivals but because of well thought-out products like the XC90 and the XC60 doing well, they have managed to roll on the right path and gain a lot of credibility in the last couple of years. While it enjoys some presence in the full-size and mid-size luxury SUV segments, Volvo doesn’t have any momentum going on in the entry-level premium SUV space. Until now, that is.

Volvo XC40 Expert Review, XC40 Road Test - 207002 | CarTrade


Meet the all-new XC40, a stylish and feature packed compact SUV that’s all set to compete in a segment that has become a reflection of the changing taste and ambition of young buyers who are not hesitant to splurge on compact luxury cars. Needless to say, there’s a more significant element to this Volvo offering than there has been for quite a while. Here’s how the XC40 fares in the real world.

Exterior

The XC40 is the first model to use Volvo’s CMA (Compact Modular Architecture) which will underpin the brand’s upcoming cars in the 40 Series family including fully electric vehicles. That said, it borrows plenty of cues from the SPA platform SUVs including the XC60 and the XC90. These include running gear, interior bits and even some of the design elements. Speaking of which, the XC40 has among the more SUV-like designs out there, with no pretension of coupe-like appearance or sleekness. Its 210mm ground clearance makes it higher than the competition and the upright stance and sharp creases are on point for this segment.

Volvo XC40 First Drive Review


The XC40 uses the same design language as the XC60 and the XC90. Naturally, it has the same basic styling cues – clean, simple lines and striking details. That said, this car has a few distinctive bits, too. The headlights with the now familiar T-shaped daytime running lights look more robust. The doors also have a heavily sculpted lower section, while the steeply sloping window line goes well with the overall stout look. The rear is unmistakably Volvo with the vertically stacked taillights that are superbly detailed and look beautiful when lit. All in all, the XC40 expresses a lot through its design and is easily among the better looking cars in its segment

Volvo XC40 First Drive Review
Interior

Inside, the XC40 primarily uses black to set the ambience and features vertically-stacked elements. You get a lot of stuff from the XC60 and the XC90 like the digital instrument panel, the lovely three-spoke wheel and the vertical touchscreen display and the air vents. As for the quality, the cabin includes plenty of nice looking brushed metal inserts around the centre console and the door pads. Volvo has also used high grade leather and chrome bits for the clean and rather cool looking dashboard and the lack of buttons and a clean layout makes the whole thing clutter-free. What’s unique to the XC40 is the Lava orange felt lining that covers the entire foot well and chunks of the door pads. Volvo says they have introduced this contrasting look in keeping with the trendy appeal of this car, however, we suspect some buyers would find it a little too loud.

Volvo XC40 First Drive Review


The nine-inch touchscreen display is a familiar thing and because its UI is quite similar to that of an electronic tablet, using it on the go quickly becomes second nature – the diverse range of functions and information is presented in a clear manner, with the screen responding well to touch inputs. The whole infotainment system, in fact, is just as feature-loaded as Volvo’s bigger SUVs except for the sound system – you miss out on the ultra-premium Bowers and Wilkins system for a 13-speaker Harman Kardon unit which sounds great nonetheless.

Volvo XC40 First Drive Review


The XC40 has among the most supportive front seats in this segment - they are large and adequately wide with just the right amount of contour and perfect cushioning. Also, it’s easy to find a suitable driving position thanks to a plethora of steering and seat adjustment. The leather/alcantara seats even include manually extendable seat base for more under thigh support. Sadly, things don’t look as promising as you move onto the back – while the rear bench is well contoured for good lateral support and there’s decent legroom and headroom, the cabin is woefully narrow, making this car a strict four seater. The ingress, too, is narrow which means getting in and out of the rear is bit of a task. Lastly, even though there’s a large sunroof overhead, there is no escaping the helmed in feeling that one may get from the small rear windows and the all-black upholstery.

Volvo XC40 First Drive Review


Volvo’s newer generation cars, as we know, are packed with features and safety equipment and the XC40 is no different. Despite catering to what is essentially an entry-level market, the XC40 is equipped to the brim. Initially, Volvo will be selling this car in R-Design trim only which comes standard with high-end features such as the digital instrument cluster, LED headlamps, panoramic sunroof, front and rear parking sensors and automatic parking. Now it may be an entry-level Volvo, but the XC40 still gets a full suite of driving aids including lane-keep assist, lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control. We tried out the lane-keep assist on the fast and windy Outer Ring Road in Hyderabad and found the system to be fairly effective as long as the roads were properly marked.

Volvo XC40 First Drive Review
Performance

The new XC40 is powered by a 2-litre four-cylinder diesel motor putting out 190bhp and 400Nm of torque. All the power is transferred to the road via an 8-speed automatic gearbox and a Haldex AWD system. Thanks to the class leading output, the car feels fairly brisk as a daily driver. Even on part throttle, the XC40 (especially in Dynamic driving mode) is quick to react thanks to the flat torque spread and a quick eight-speed automatic. If anything, this engine behaves its best on part throttle wherein it can ride the wave of torque and allow the gearbox to upshift early. The midrange pull is particularly strong and even at the top-end, this motor maintains a certain degree of zing. The overall refinement levels, on the other hand, are quite high with little in terms of engine and road noise entering the cabin.

Volvo XC40 First Drive Review


The XC40 has five driving modes – Eco, Comfort, Dynamic, Off-Road and Individual. Naturally, it feels the calmest in Eco, with the throttle response feeling mushy and the gearbox upshifting early. Switch to Dynamic and you get a steering that’s noticeably heavier and a gearbox that hangs onto lower gears and upshifts over 4,000rpm. That being said, we found the baby Volvo to be the most intuitive in Individual as it allows the driver to alter the steering, gearbox, brakes and the suspension separately to suit their mood.

Volvo XC40 First Drive Review


The XC40 rides on conventional, nonadjustable dampers and steel springs whereas the XC60 and the XC90 get air suspension all around. Nonetheless, the former exhibits a great deal of composure at low speeds. Over a few bad sections that we managed to find around the Outer Ring Road, the XC40 felt comfortable skipping over corrugations and rutty surfaces. Sure, you do hear the suspension working but there is hardly any lateral movement or unsettling jolts. At higher speeds, even though straight line stability is superb and it feels rock solid at speed, we noticed some amount of up and down movement throughout the ORR. As for the steering, at low speeds its light and easy to twirl and at highway speeds it’s got more heft to it – it weighs up nicely as you up the pace, especially in Dynamic. Based on our brief first stint, the XC40 makes for a great urban SUV, with compact proportions, a good commanding driving position, light controls and lots of driving aids.

Volvo XC40 First Drive Review
Specifications
Make Volvo
Model XC40
Fuel Diesel
Variant R-Design
Engine Capacity 2-litre
Max. Power (bhp@rpm) 190bhp @ 4000 RPM
Max. torque (Nm@rpm) 400Nm @ 1750 RPM
Gears  8
Length mm 4425
Width mm 1863
Height mm 1652
Wheelbase mm 2702
Fuel Capacity (in litres) 54
Tyre size 235/55 R18
Volvo XC40 Competitors
Competition Specifications
Specifications Volvo
XC40
BMW
X1
Variant R-Design X-Drive 20d
Fuel Diesel Diesel
Engine Capacity 2-litre 2-litre
Max. Power (bhp@rpm) 190bhp @ 4000 rpm 188bhp @ 4000rpm
Max. torque (Nm@rpm) 400Nm @ 1,750 rpm 400Nm @ 1,750 rpm
Gears  8 8
Length mm 4425 4439
Width mm 1863 1811
Height mm 1652 1612
Wheelbase mm 2702 2670
Fuel Capacity (in litres) 54 51
Tyre size 235/55 R18 225/50 R18

 

Conclusion
Volvo XC40 First Drive Review

If you are in the market for a small SUV that not only looks and drives sweet but is also incredibly safe and feature packed, then the new XC40 makes a lot of sense. That said, Volvo has made it quite clear that it will position the XC40 at the premium end of the entry-level luxury segment, perhaps to justify the additional equipment. By that reckoning, we expect the XC40 to come in at a base price of around Rs 40 lakhs ex-showroom. On the whole, this new model offers the luxury and style we have come to expect from newer Volvos as well as safety features and tech that elevate it to the top of its class. The fully loaded Volvo XC40 R-Design will compete against the likes of the BMW X1 20d M Sport (priced at Rs 44.50 lakhs) and the Audi Q3 35 TDI Technology Pack which costs Rs 43.59 lakhs. Both prices ex-showroom Mumbai.   

Volvo XC40 First Drive Review
 
Pictures By Kapil Angane .
Volvo XC40

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