Words by Erin Baker, Editorial Director at Auto Trader
Volvo can do no wrong right now: this smart Scandi brand built its reputation on outdoors adventure, safety and a sustainable Nordic lifestyle, all themes which resonate with today’s consumer more than ever.
The XC40 is a new model, cashing in on the enthusiasm for small but chunky, high-seating cars that work in an urban environment but exude a sense of rugged adventure.
The first of many big ticks for Volvo here. The outside ticks the SUV box, with a chunky, 4×4 design but the lights front and rear keep that sleek family DNA which spreads across everything from the S90 saloon to the V60 estate. The XC40 is the baby of Volvo’s SUV family, with the XC60 and seven-seat XC90 sitting above it.
Our test car was the R-Design spec, which is the highest level, with a black roof, in Fusion Red – a great, dark red. There are loads of great colours around – Volvo does a fab pastel blue with the black roof, too.
While that means plenty of extra little styling touches, it also meant, in our car, a black leather interior with soft-touch black plastics and silvery metal details. Personally, if I’m going to buy a car with a small rubber Swedish flag attached to it (as our car had), then I want that cream leather and bleached wood interior, to feel like I’m sitting in Stockholm itself.
It might be the baby of the range, but the XC40 still gets the iPad-style touchscreen with every imaginable function on it if you swipe left or right from the home page. As well as Apple CarPlay (£300), and a pinch-to-zoom good satnav system, I had the Intellisafe pro pack (£1,500), which is well worth it for a family car. It comprises PilotAssist which will do the steering for you up to 80mph, adaptive cruise control which takes care of acceleration and braking, blind spot warning, cross-traffic alert which tells you if something’s coming as you’re reversing out, and rear collisions mitigation which will slam on the brakes if an accident is imminent.
We also had wireless phone charging (£175), which is well worth it in our book.
Volvos have always excelled in the comfort league. They tend to offer the most space for the body size (the XC90 is great on that score), be quiet on motorways and have soft suspension that lulls children to sleep.
Our test car also had a tilt-and-slide panoramic sunroof, and powered folding rear seats and head rests as well as a boot floor that can be lowered for extra space, with a shopping bag holder, and storage under the driver’s seat. The powered rear tailgate is well worth it if you often carry toddlers/babies/shopping/small animals…It’s a £375 option but you’ll miss it if you’ve ever had it and don’t tick the box this time round.
We had the petrol T4 engine, which indicates 190 horsepower, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. It’s not scintillating power (0-60mph in 8.2 seconds), but enough for trips round town and motorway journeys as long as you don’t plan to spend all your time overtaking. In return, you’ll get about 34mpg: while a standard hatchback (think Golf, Focus etc) would have the same leg space and could give you better fuel economy, you won’t better it in a similar-size petrol SUV.
Volvo is making big changes in response to how people want to buy their cars these days. So while the sticker price on this car is £36,985, that’s pretty much irrelevant now – no one buys a car outright any more. Volvo recently launched its Care by Volvo leasing and subscription service. It’s still in its infancy and right now operates like a normal three-year leasing contract, except you can opt for just two years. You don’t put down a deposit – you just pay a monthly price to hire the car. But eventually, you’ll be able to hire a Volvo for a few months, or swap in and out of different cars. Happy days.