The Volvo XC40. A bold move in a crowded segment

While in Bulgaria, I filmed a few reviews with a local dealership as part of a campaign. Here is one of the articles, following the YouTube reviews.

Yes, the SUV and crossover segment is ever so crowded, due to more and more people demanding a driver position that is more "commanding". In any case, compact crossovers, or CUVs, as some are starting to call them, keep popping up like mushrooms from an ever increasing number of manufacturers.

Actually, this is a story similar to the "sport" SUV segment. About 20 years ago BMW started this crazy trend, by introducing the first generation X5. Nowadays we have SUVs from Porsche, Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Bentley, Rolls Royce, Lamrorghini. Excluding the latter, all the others I've mentioned have never had any previous presence in the segment.

Anyways, back to the matter at hand. The XC40 is Volvo's idea of a CUV (Compact Utility Vechicle?). It seems they are quite confident in its success. It's not every day a manufacturer introduces an entirely new platform for a specific model.

The Volvo XC40 sits on a unique MSA platform, as opposed to the rest of their cars, which use the fullsize SPA platform. A bold move from Volvo, but I have to say, a good one.

This little Swede is actually a brilliant example of how you can achieve a lot with little. What do I mean? The car is 4,40 meters in length, which doesn't sound like all that much. However, as I said in the video review (in Bulgarian, but with captions), this has to be one of the best uses of interior space, I've ever seen. I am a rather tall person, and fit perfectly, in the front and back seats.

I really like how ergonomic the interior is. Everything is nice and tidy, and most materials are of high quality. Swedish minimalism, maybe, but it's not dull inside. It's actually quite cozy, especially with the two tone leather interior our car had.

The seating position is spot on - not too high, but still enough to give you a good vantage point of the road ahead. The instrument cluster is easy to read, and the infotainment system, although not the best in the class, is a big step forward, from what you had in older Volvo cars.

The big center touchscreen is easy to read, as well as to navigate through the different menus. However, it can be a bit distracting at times, as many of the functions need to be accessed from a separate menu. Nevertheless, the XC40 has a welcoming atmosphere on the inside, and I think many people would love spending time there.

As for what moves the car, our XC40, was a D3. This means, we have a 2.0 liter four cylinder diesel engine with 150 horsepower and 350 Nm of torque. Couple that to an 8-speed torque converter automatic with all wheel drive, and you get a car, that does 0-100 km/h in around 10 seconds, on to a top speed of 200 km/h. Our car benefited from a Polestar optimization - a software which slightly bumps up power (around 10 hp), while slightly decreasing fuel consumption.

Although not staggering, these are quite respectable numbers. Especially when you take into account the curb weight of just over 1 700 kg. Fuel consumption is quite good too - 5 liters / 100 km (56.5 UK mpg) highway, and 6.2 liters / 100 km (45.6 UK mpg) city. Minimum cargo space is 460 liters, and if you need more, you can pull the backseats down, resulting in 1336 liters.

Thanks to Volvo's new design language, the little, but not so little XC40 looks rather imposing. Particularly so in the front, with its massive grill and ala' Thor's hammer LED headlights. It's overall funky design makes this Viking distinguishable from the rest of the pack.

Driving the XC40 leaves you with the impression that the car is bigger than it actually is. In the good way. The car doesn't feel bigger than it is, but it gives a more premium feel that you would expect from a car of this segment and price range. Speaking of price, the XC40 starts from 57 000 BGN or 29 000 EUR (Bulgarian prices). You can easily spec a car for 40 000 EUR, in the case of the "Recharged" version, which is fully electric, with a 450 km range.

The car sits quite comfortably on the road. Even with more aggressive inputs, the car remains surprisingly neutral for a crossover. Despite that, it prefers to be driven in a more relaxed manner. The 8-speed automatic's gearing is well suited for acceleration as well as good economy. The engine has plenty of mid range torque, but it doesn't like to be above 3 000 RPM. It starts getting noisy and rough.

Overall, the Volvo XC40 is a well-sorted and charismatic car with unique styling. Light on its feet, good value for money, offering good comfort, practicality and driving dynamics. A very strong contender in a very competitive segment.

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