Fresh, creative and distinct! That is what the Volvo XC40 is all about. It is the first ever compact SUV from Volvo and is also the smallest SUV on offer from the company. The compact SUV segment is what we would call 'trending' in social media parlance. Scroll down through the pictures and you can see that the XC40 is unapologetically stylish. You would be gravely mistaken if you thought that the XC40 is barely a scaled down model of its elder siblings such as the XC60 and the XC90. We were invited to Barcelona, Spain for a close look and short stint behind the wheel of the XC40 and here is our report on the same.
The XC40 is a beautiful looking car. Period! Now you would think that it will be a given the fact that it is, after-all, a Volvo. But then there's the catch. The lines, the looks and the panache with which the car carries itself is quite unlike a Volvo. Young, chic and outright sexy, the XC40 is haute couture equivalent of cars.... compact SUVs if you would. A thick C-pillar, sculpted door panels and a contrast-colour roof are some of the design highlights on the new XC40. The overhangs are short, making for a sporty look. Another interesting design element is the belt-line, which rises all the way up to the C-pillar and goes on in to the roof. Our test car rode on 19-inch and 20-inch wheels, which will most probably be optional on the car when it comes to India. The XC40 will get 18-inch wheels as standard upon launch.
The interior of the XC40 is as stylish as the exterior. The first thing that you notice is the minimalist theme and the clutter-free dashboard. Our test cars had a lively black and orange dual-tone colour scheme adding to the sporty feel. The driving position is as one would expect in an SUV. You sit upright and there is enough support for your back and thighs. The quality of materials used and the upholstery itself is absolutely top notch and give you that feel of refinement. Adding to it are the vertical AC vents, which again ooze of elegance. Be it keeping laptops/bottles in the door pockets or underseat storage spaces, you have lots of storage spaces and cubbyholes which make life easier.
How about the features?
Like all Volvos, the all-new XC40 too is loaded with features, and the foremost of them is the Sensus touchscreen infotainment system. It is a 9-inch tablet on the dashboard and it has an easy user-interface. Be it navigation, AC controls, multimedia, you can access all of it from the Sensus infotainment system. Our grouse is that some menu functions require a long press, which means that you have to take your eyes off the road if you want to go deep into the controls. There is a Harmon Kardon sound system along with entertainment apps, navigation and smartphone integration (Android Auto and Apple CarPlay) along with a bouquet of services via the Volvo On Call app as well.
As far as safety is concerned, the XC40, gets the full safety package which includes detection for animals, pedestrians and cyclists, automatic braking and collision avoidance up to speeds of 60 kmph, on-lane mitigation, run-off road mitigation, adaptive cruise control, pilot assist, blind spot information, cross-traffic alert and rear traffic collision warning and so on! Phew! We are tired listing all of them here. The first batch of the Volvo XC40 that will hit the roads will get standard features such as active headlamps, pilot assist, electric tailgate, Harmon Kardon sound system and wireless mobile charging as well and yes this is true for the first batch of cars to hit Indian roads as well.
The car has a bootspace of 460 litres with the rear seats up and with them folded down; the space goes up to a massive 1,336 litres. While, the interior is tastefully done, it could have been a tad more spacious, especially for the rear passengers. Five people inside will surely be a crowd. The transmission tunnel at the rear could make life difficult for someone sitting in the middle for long hours. There is enough headroom and knee-room for the rear occupants. The wheelbase of the XC40 is 2702 mm, against an overall length of 4425 mm.
Engine and platform
The XC40 is built on Volvo's new platform which is the compact modular architecture or CMA. The reason for a new platform is pretty simple. Volvo plans to make more cars on the same platform in the near future. The car will be available in two trims, which are the Inscription and the R-Design. We had the opportunity to drive the XC40 in its T5 petrol guise and the D4 diesel variant. It is still unclear as to engine that Volvo will offer when the XC40 is launched in India. Although, we believe that the D4 diesel will make its way to India upon launch, with the T5 petrol motor coming in later.
|Specifications||Volvo XC40 T5 Petrol||Volvo XC40 D4 Diesel|
|Engine Type||4-cylinder, in-line, turbo-charged||4-cylinder, in-line, twin turbo|
|Displacement||1969 cc||1969 cc|
|Max Power||243 bhp @ 5,500 rpm||187 bhp @ 4,000 rpm|
|Max Torque||350 Nm @ 1,800-4,800 rpm||400 Nm @ 1,750-2,500 rpm|
|Gearbox||8-speed automatic||8-speed automatic|
Performance and ride
The XC40 thrives in an urban environment. It felt adept at filtering through Barcelona traffic and did not mind the motorway driving that we subjected it to either. The car has a light steering as compared to its bigger siblings and handles well too. Its compact city dimensions are yet another advantage when it comes to cities with high traffic congestion. The XC40 rides very well on Catalonian roads and we did take the SUV on surfaces which weren't tarmac and it did not get uncomfortable one bit.
We had the opportunity to drive the diesel D4 variant and the petrol T5 variant at the media drive and talking about the petrol first, it surprised us how refined the motor was and how Volvo managed to get the engine to churn out the majority of torque from just 1,800 rpm. This means that whether be it overtakes in the city or on the highway, the XC40 has enough juice to power through. Also, the petrol version felt a tad sprightlier than the diesel engine version. Put the pedal to the metal and we figured that out straight away. The engine makes 243 bhp which is a healthy output for a small SUV as the XC40.
Speaking about the diesel engine, it makes 187 bhp and 400 Nm of peak torque, available from a lowly 1,750 rpm and is available across the rev range. The diesel clatter does exist, but overall the NVH levels are really on the better side, in this segment. The transmission works smoothly and knows when to hold on to the gears under hard acceleration and when to shift up/down.
There are multiple driving modes on offer, which are Comfort, Dynamic, Eco, Off-road and Individual. Depending on the mode that you selected, the dynamics of the car such as the suspension, steering response, engine response and the torque on-offer on the AWD system are altered. It would be wise to point out that the R-Design trim of the XC40 will offer a stiffer chassis, thicker anti-roll bars and stiffer suspension which makes spirited driving a better experience than the regular XC40 variants.
We sure did find the Volvo XC40 to be a neat little package. It offers you the good amalgamation of features, performance and oodles of attitude as well. It is the model that Volvo expects to drive its sales in a SUV crazy country like India. We believe that Volvo will launch the XC40 in India in the middle of 2018, say in June or July. It will rival the likes of the BMW X1, Audi Q3 and Mercedes-Benz GLA. We expect the prices to be in the range of ₹ 35 lakh to ₹ 40 lakh. The XC40 is the model which will drive sales for Volvo in India, so it begs the question as to whether Volvo will assemble the car in India or not. The company has already started assembly operations in India although it is still too early for Volvo to figure out whether the XC40 will be assembled in India or not.