The Volvo XC40 is the coolest compact SUV
And it also looks fantastic!
The story of Volvo SUVs started in 2002 when the Swedish automaker released the seven-seater XC90. It was so successful that a smaller XC60 came around in 2008, and you have guessed it, the SUV was also a very popular. All could have stopped there but following the growing demand for compact SUVs, Volvo proposed in 2017 yet another "XC", this one called the XC40. The brand's smallest off-roader entered a crowded market that was dominated by the Range Rover Evoque, Mini Countryman, Jaguar E-Pace, Audi Q3, BMW X1, or Mercedes-Benz GLA. So, how did the little Volvo manage to stand out?
Their late arrival to the compact SUV party meant Volvo could better understand what people in the market for such cars wanted. Volvo actually did such a great job that the XC40 won the European Car of the Year Award back in 2018. Maybe, one of the first factors that buyers look for is style. In this area, the XC40 prevails with a funky style that is pretty much its own. It's unmistakably a Volvo, but it breaks away from the XC90 and XC60's more classic design. Then, there is the space inside the cabin which has been optimized to have as much room as possible. Also, a Volvo will always be a Volvo, and the XC40 keeps the comfort and safety standards to the highest point. Finally, it has a plethora of engine to choose from, even a full-electric one.
The car we got is the XC40 T5 Twin Engine (or Recharge), a plug-in hybrid car that uses both an internal combustion engine and a rather large battery. The result is a 258 PS SUV that mixes a 1.5-liter three-cylinder gas engine that makes 178 PS with an 80 PS electric engine. It's good enough to take it from a standstill to 100 km/h in only 7.3 seconds and reach a top speed of 205 km/h. It's no sports car, but that's not what you're anyway looking for when buying such a car.
A while ago, we drove the S60 Polestar Engineered which also was a plug-in hybrid. Similar concept here, you can either drive in full electric mode for around 40 km, drive only with internal combustion engine on, or have it in hybrid mode which optimizes your fuel consumption. Talking about that, we managed to average a 5.3l/100 km even though Volvo claims a 2.1l/100 km, which is still rather excellent for a car of this size and weight (1'771 kg). Driving the XC40 Twin Engine you realize that it's all very comfortable and quiet. It may not be a very fun car to drive, but it's very relaxing. Linked to an eight-speed gearbox that seems seamless, the ride quality is up there with the greatest of the category and even close to what its big brother, the XC60, has to offer. On the other hand, I wouldn't call the baby Volvo SUV a proper off-roader. I tried to go a little bit off the beaten track and got stuck in areas where I'd thought it could easily go through. Unfortunately, the XC40 Twin-Engine only comes as a front wheel drive. Maybe one of the bummer about this car. If you're looking for a true 4X4, get a normal AWD T5.
So, now we know that the XC40 is good to drive and good to look at, but how is it on the inside? Well, it may be one of the best and most organized interiors of the category. The Volvo may not be as techie as its rival, the Range Rover Evoque, but it's far less complicated and the layout just seems right. The giant central console screen is easy to use and we just wish Apple CarPlay and Android Auto would come as standard (£300). Moreover, it's refreshing to see that physical switches are not dead. For example, the pause, play, next buttons are always here on command, no need to go in twenty submenus to find them... ugh. The rest of the cabin is pretty much modern Volvo. It's a premium Nordic design in which you can add a "millennial" touch if you start configuring the interior with some colours.
The XC40 may have arrived late in this saturated market, but the small Swedish SUV has some tricks up its sleeve with a fantastic design, a cosy interior, economical engines, and great driving dynamics. It may not be as capable off-road as the Evoque, as tech-savvy as the Q3, or as good on the road as the X1, but the Volvo XC40 offers great balance between all these aspects in a package that is more "Hygge" than all of its competition. Well done Volvo, I'll have more of that please.
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Volvo XC40 T5 Twin-Engine