Guess what? The smallest Volvo SUV yet is yet another cracker
Volvo found great success with the original XC90. It took ages to follow it up with the XC60, and even longer to follow it up with the brilliant second-gen XC90, but the firm’s clearly on a roll. Because now, we have its smallest SUV yet, the all-new XC40.
It’s going up against the inevitable BMW X1 and Audi Q3, plus another new upstart alternative, the Jaguar E-Pace. Prices start from just under £30,000 and stretch into £40k, but don’t think you’re simply getting a small XC60 or XC90 for this money. No, unlike some other Russian Doll SUVs, the XC40 carries the family style with its own distinctive characteristics.
So it’s chunkier as well as being smaller, cuter and funkier on the inside. There’s a sense of fun with this small model that you don’t have on the bigger models. It bodes well for the compact saloons and estates that are also due to appear on the all-new platform sitting beneath the XC40.
Volvo calls this CMA, which stands for compact modular architecture. It’s an advanced set of tech, particularly in UK launch guise – all initial cars will come with all-wheel drive and automatic gearboxes: pick from either a 187bhp 2.0-litre D4 turbodiesel or 247bhp 2.0-litre T5 turbo petrol.
All cars are well equipped, with even the entry-level Momentum offering LED headlights, 18-inch alloys, dual-zone climate control and nine-inch portrait-style infotainment touchscreen. There’s loads of safety assist tech too, and if you trade up to R-Design, Inscription or Pro versions of each model line, the spec sheet is as long as your arm.
There are some lovely details, from the little rubber Swedish flag on the bonnet, to the way the carpet extends deep into the door panels – you can even pick bright orange if you’re really brave. It suits the XC40’s character, even if it might not suit the trade-in buyer three years down the line.
The basics are good, from a spot-on driving position, to lots of rear seat space, to a clever boot with built-in hooks in the floor to stop stuff rolling about. Throughout, real thought and careful attention to detail has gone into the XC40.
On the road, it doesn’t exactly wow, but it certainly pleases and satisfies. We drove two models, one with regular suspension and one with the sport setup: both have a slightly bitty ride around town, so you’re not exactly penalised for taking the sportier one – we’d probably take that one then, not least because it’s safe and secure with just a welcome hint of extra sportiness.
Other than a bit too much diesel engine noise, it’s hard to find fault with how the XC40 drives. It’s certainly up there with the class best – OK, this isn’t a class exactly packed with grade-A brilliance, but the XC40 still deserves credit for being practical, funky and comfortable with itself. Factor in the usefulness it exudes, and it’s easy to see how this stylish new Swede could end up with class-best honours to its name.