BMW introduced the X1 in 2009, Audi came out with the Q3 in 2011, Mercedes-Benz has had the GLA since 2014, but until September last year, Volvo had no presence in this segment. That’s when the Swedish carmaker took the wraps off the Volvo XC40. It is the company’s first entry-level luxury crossover and the first vehicle based on the Common Modular Architecture (CMA) platform co-developed by Volvo and its owners Geely. It has been received rather well globally with Volvo revealing plans to increase production to meet the high demand. The SUV also managed to bag top honours at the 2018 European Car of the Year awards. The Volvo XC40 has arrived in India and I got a chance to sample it before it goes on sale on July 4, 2018.
What does it look like?
Volvo’s signature Thor’s Hammer LED DRLs make an appearance on the XC40 as well. They flank an upright grille housing the company’s Iron Mark insignia. The nose is vertical and the bonnet is nearly flat, which combine with the almost parallel running roof and window line to give the XC40 a classic SIV profile. The rear gets a predominantly black bumper. Another signature Volvo touch is the upright tail light cluster complementing the strong shoulder line. ‘Volvo’ lettering is spread across the centre of the boot lid placed in an S90-like inset.
Volvo will offer the XC40 only in the R-Design trim, at least initially. ‘R DESIGN’ lettering is present on the boot lid and the C-pillar. This version adds sporty touches in the form of a gloss black front grille and front and rear lower bumper sections, black roof and ORVMs, dual integrated exhaust pipes and 18-inch diamond cut 5-spoke alloy wheels. Customers will get a choice of three colour options – Crystal White, Bursting Blue, and Fusion Red (pictured). All three come with a black finish roof.
What I like about Volvo’s design philosophy is that its cars, despite being instantly recognisable as Volvos, have their own unique identity. They do not follow the small, medium, large pattern some rival brands tend to do. The Volvo XC40 blends quintessential Volvo design features and unique styling elements of its own with a conventional SUV silhouette.
What’s it like on the inside?
A 9-inch touchscreen for Volvo’s Sensus infotainment setup dominates the centre console. Narrow, vertically stacked aircon vents flank the screen. There’s a fully digital and customisable instrument console, which also displays warnings coming in via the Radar Based Active Safety package. There’s no HUD on offer. Storage spaces are aplenty in the Volvo XC40’s cabin. There’s even a nifty trashcan placed just ahead of the front centre armrest.
In the R-Design spec, the cabin gets leather/nubuck upholstery, steering wheel and gear selector wrapper in perforated leather along with aluminium dashboard inlays. Customers looking to add something flashier than an all-black interior trim can spec their Volvo XC40 in a black and lava red combo.
The Volvo XC40 offers space for 4-5 with 460 L of boot space. The front seats a generous and fairly comfortable. They’re electrically adjustable and the driver’s seat also gets memory function. The rear seat experience, however, isn’t the XC40’s strong suit. For starters, the seat back is a bit too upright, and I found the cushioning to be on the firmer side. However, there is ample headroom and legroom and rear seat occupants get dedicated aircon vents as well. This one’s clearly meant to be driven rather than being driven around in.
What about the features?
Volvo has a habit of loading its products to the brim with features and the XC40 is no different. There’s just so much kit offered as standard that the only way to do justice to it was to dedicate an entire section of the review to it. Noteworthy features include a panoramic sunroof, wireless charging, power operated tail gate, Park Pilot Assist, and a 13-speaker Harman/Kardon sound system. It comes with heated seats as well, but its functionality in India is debatable. Unlike other manufacturers, Volvo has not equipped the XC40 with a downgraded version of its Sensus infotainment system. It’s the same 9-inch touchscreen setup found in the XC90, S90, V90 CC, and the XC60. It supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Safety has always been a priority for Volvo and even the entry-level XC40 comes with the Radar Based Active Safety suite. City Safety looks out for vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, and large animals warning the driver if a collision is imminent. If for some reason, the driver fails to react, then the car will apply brakes to avoid a collision.
Run-off road Mitigation ensures the Volvo XC40 stays on the road. The safety feature uses steering input and brakes to keep you safely on the tarmac. Pilot Assist also uses steering input and braking to maintain a steady speed and keep a safe distance between you and the car in front. It will also keep the car in its lane. Goes without saying that proper lane markings are a prerequisite for this to function smoothly.
What’s it like to drive?
Volvo’s D4 2.0 L diesel engine powers the XC40. It develops 190 hp of max power and a peak torque of 400 Nm. An 8-speed Aisin-sourced gearbox combines with an AWD system courtesy Haldex to send power to all four wheels. This will be the sole configuration on offer in India, at least for the time being.
Power delivery is fairly seamless with the generous 400 Nm of torque ensuring the Volvo XC40 moves off the line briskly. The 8-speed transmission, for the most, works smoothly offering optimal shifts. However, it does tend to react a bit slowly when downshifts are required. The engine provides ample pull until about 4,000-4,200 rpm post which power tapers off. The amount of engine noise filtering into the cabin seemed a bit on the higher side.
Ride quality at low speeds can feel a bit harsh. That may have something to do with the stiffer, sportier setup of the R-Design variant. However, it gets better as speeds build up. The SUV maintains its composure over most surfaces, on or off the road. There are five driving modes available – Comfort, Eco, Dynamic, Off-Road, and Individual. They’re all pretty much self-explanatory. I kept the car in ‘Dynamic’ mode for most of the drive. It adds weight to the steering, sharpens its response making the XC40 more engaging to drive. Speaking of which, the smallest member of the Volvo XC’s family is rather enjoyable to drive. It isn’t particularly engaging, but it doesn’t disappoint the enthusiast in you either.
Should you buy one?
Before I answer that let me list out things that work against the Volvo XC40. The rear seat is a bit too upright and rising window line can make the occupants feel a bit claustrophobic. While all three colour options look lovely on the Volvo XC40, I for one, wish there were more choices. Potential customers stretching their budget in a bid to acquire bragging rights that accompany luxury car brands such as Volvo will be disappointed as there will only be a single, fully-loaded R-Design trim on offer expected to cost north of 40 lakhs (ex-showroom).
As evident from the previous paragraph, there aren’t any real deal breakers here. The Volvo XC40 looks great, is overflowing with features, gets more safety tech than any of its rivals and is nice to drive as well. First impressions suggest it is potentially the best option in its segment. So, should you buy one? Well, yes.
|Volvo XC40 D4 R-Design specifications|
|Engine||1,969 cc 4-cylinder turbocharged diesel|
|Power||190 hp @ 4,000 rpm|
|Torque||400 Nm @ 1,750-2,500 rpm|
|Transmission||8-speed Geartronic automatic transmission|
|Acceleration (0-100 km/h)||7.9 s|
|Top speed||210 km/h|
|Fuel tank capacity||54 L|
|Kerb Weight||1,684 – 1,733 kg|
|Length x width x height||4,425 x 1,863 x 1,652 mm|