This is the Volvo XC40 T4 R-Design, the petrol derivative of the company's entry-level luxury SUV. And this one comes packed with a BS6 2.0L petrol heart that is available only in the top-spec R-Design trim. With the market transitioning to petrol-powered cars globally, it doesn't come as a surprise that Volvo has introduced the XC40 petrol in India. And to evaluate its real-world performance, we test it out in the sunny locales of Goa.
Unlike some of its rivals that feature a coupe-like design, the XC40 isn't pretentious in its appearance. It’s more SUV-like, butch looking and upright in its stance. And it follows the same design philosophy as the XC60 and XC90. So, the signature elements include the T-shaped LED daytime running lights, sharp details and clean lines. And in this top-spec R-Design trim, it gets blacked-out detailing on the grille, ORVMs and the roof, which enhance the appeal of the car.
There's a heavy recess on the lower section of the doors, while the steep window line adds character to the muscular design. And then, there's the neatly done rear section with the signature L-shaped LED taillights, which look exquisite. Everything comes together to make it one of the best designed SUVs in its segment. No wonder that the Volvo XC40 has won so many laurels for its design.
The XC40 T4 R-Design's cabin is similar to its diesel sibling, with only one change to its trim. The funky orange felt lining on the door pads, foot well and central area, which may seem loud to some, has been replaced with a black material. While it may not look flashy anymore, if soiled, it won't look as dirty as it would have been. Otherwise, the cabin is ergonomic in its layout, with black and/or brushed metal finish on the various parts. The upper part of the dashboard uses soft touch materials, and while the lower bits get hard plastics, the fit and finish along with the quality are top notch. Unlike its rivals, the XC40's cabin features vertical design elements like the vertically-stacked touchscreen display and the air-con vents. Then, the gear knob, which isn't a knob but a stick, doesn't slot into the gears but clicks. Although it looks elegant, you need to double tap for selecting the drive/reverse modes; else it shifts into neutral which may get irritating if you aren't well acquainted with it.
The four-way electrically adjustable driver seat gets memory function with four-way lumbar adjustment, while the co-passenger seat gets four-way electric adjustability. The front seats are firm and supportive, come with manually-adjustable under thigh support and offer a good view of the surroundings. The doors open wide, so ingress or egress isn't an issue. However, the same cannot be said for the rear seats. While the seats are supportive, you sit at a very low position so the under-thigh support is lacking, although the knee and legroom are adequate. And with the cabin and seat base being narrow, seating three abreast wouldn't be a good idea as the rear bench is comfortable only for two occupants. Also, the high window line and the all-black interiors increase the helmed-in feeling. What's more, the rear door is woefully narrow, so getting in and out of the car becomes a hassle.
All said and done, Volvo cars are known for being feature packed and include various safety equipments, and the XC40 is no different. In this top-spec R-Design trim, it gets a vertically-stacked infotainment system, which offers crisp graphics and is intuitive to use, while there's also a digital instrument cluster that throws up a plethora of information. It also gets a 600W 14-speaker Harman Kardon music system, which sounds great. Volvo is also offering wireless charging, a fixed arm rest and a waste bin on the centre console. In terms of the safety net, besides the standard features like the front and rear parking sensors, ESP, traction control and seven airbags, it also gets various driver assistance systems like lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and much more.
Under the hood, the Volvo XC40 T4 R-Design employs a 2.0-litre, BS6-compliant, turbocharged motor that belts out 190bhp and 300Nm of peak torque. These figures are on par with the Mercedes-Benz GLA and the BMW X1, but significantly higher than the Audi Q3. This motor is available with an eight-speed automatic transmission. However, unlike the diesel version which came with a Haldex AWD drive-train, the XC40 petrol variant is only offered in the front wheel drive layout.
At idle, the engine is silent and feels smooth, but it gets audible as the revs go past 2,500rpm. However, it doesn't feel unrefined at any point. This is also a very free revving motor, which redlines all the way up to 6,000 rpm. It offers ample torque lower down, so in-city low-speed tractability isn't an issue. However, the engine comes into its elements post the 2,000rpm mark when the turbo is on boost, and all you need to do is apply part throttle to make progress. This helps in highway cruising and making quick overtakes is fairly easy. That said, you won't feel the sudden burst of torque as power is delivered in a linear manner.
What's more, you also get five modes to choose from - Eco, Comfort, Dynamic, Off-road and Individual. These modes essentially alter the throttle response, steering feel and the ESP and traction control interventions to make it comfortable or sportier, depending on the mode selected. In Eco mode, the throttle response is dull and the gearbox upshifts early, which induces slower progress. Even the steering feels light here. Changing the mode to Comfort enhances the response time and the steering weighs up nicely. The Dynamic mode offers sharper throttle response and also allows the transmission to hold on to the gears for a longer duration and upshifts only around the 4,000 mark. While the motor gets a bit vocal in higher revs, you'll love the turbo whine and the agility with which the SUV lunges ahead is commendable. But it’s the Individual mode that offers more driver control and allows you to individually adjust every setting as per your liking.
Then, there's the solid suspension setup. Now, it may not have the plush air suspension that other premium Volvo cars boast of, however, the independent setup on the XC40 is robust enough to not send any sudden jolts inside the cabin at city speeds. And at highway cruising speeds, the suspension flattens out road undulations nicely, thereby offering a pliant ride. We also got a chance to put the XC40 through a section of rough patches with no tarmac and small ruts. While the car didn't exactly glide through it, the ride wasn't jarring either. Engaging the Off-road mode did help here, as the steering felt lighter and the side to side movement was far lesser. That said, we could hear the suspension working during this section.
This butch SUV also impressed us with its handling. The steering is quick with less than three turns lock-to-lock, and the SUV changes directions with slightest of inputs. At low speeds, the light steering helps manoeuvrability, while it weighs up superbly as you build speeds or engage the Dynamic mode. It also induces confidence to take long sweeping curves with ease. However, pushing it further results in considerable body roll, so you have to be cautious with your inputs. And if you go hot into the sharp corners, owing to its FWD setup, it understeers quite a bit. But the good thing is that the ESP kicks in and the traction control cuts power to get the SUV back in its line. In terms of stopping power, the brakes offer good initial bite and progression.
Being a CBU (completely built unit), the Volvo XC40 T4 R-Design is priced at almost Rs 51 lakhs (on road), which is higher than its CKD rivals. Despite the high price, it is feature packed, gets active driving aids, offers a robust ride and drives well too. On the contrary, the rear seat comfort is a bit lacking. So if you can live with that, it's hard to not recommend the XC40 T4 R-Design.
Pictures by Kapil Angane