Volvo XC40 T5 R-Design is clever, practical, classy and fun to drive
What is it?
The Volvo XC40, Volvo’s first ever compact SUV and it is Volvo’s answer to the likes of the Mercedes-Benz GLA, BMW X2, Audi Q2 and the upcoming Lexus UX.
The XC40 is also the first Volvo to be based on the Swedish firm’s Compact Modular Architecture platform. This platform will underpin the upcoming V40 along with other small Volvos that should be arrive in the not too distant future.
What’s it cost?
The Volvo XC40 range opens with the XC40 T4 Momentum from $44,990 and extends all the way to the XC40 D4 R-Design Launch Edition which is priced from $59,740. We sampled the Volvo XC40 T5 R-Design Launch Edition which has a recommended retail price of $56,740 plus on road costs.
Standard equipment includes Volvo’s City Safety system which can detect pedestrians, cyclists and animals, Pilot Assist with adaptive cruise and lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, automatic parking, a 9 inch infotainment touchscreen with a Harmon/Kardon stereo and wireless charging, heated seats and a power tailgate.
What’s it go like?
The Volvo XC40 T5 R-Design is rather rapid. The 2.0 litre turbocharged and intercooled petrol engine produces 185kW @ 5500rpm 350Nm @ 1800-4800rpm and is mated to an eight-speed automatic that sends power to all four wheels.
The drivetrain is eager to please and responsive and that broad powerband means you get almost instant acceleration. Volvo says it’ll do the 0-100km/h dash in just 6.4 seconds, and that seems realistic.
Perhaps the only real downside of the engine is that it can be a touch noisy, especially when you’re enjoying a brisk drive or need to overtake quickly.
Volvo claims an official average fuel consumption figure of 7.7 litres per 100 kilometres, we averaged 8.5 litres which is respectable given the car’s size and performance.
Ride and handling aren’t bad, either. The ride is a little on the firm side, but it is never uncomfortable and handling is impressive for a small SUV. That electric steering provides good feedback while cornering and body roll is kept to a minimum.
As per other models in Volvo’s thoroughly rejuvenated line-up, the Pilot Assist system is impressive – although the lane keep assist can be a little aggressive at times – and the adaptive cruise reacts to changing traffic conditions seamlessly.
What’s it like inside?
Volvo has gone for a techy-cool feel for the XC40’s interior. There are patterned metallic inlays, suede and leather seats and in the case of our test car, optional bright orange carpet and trim, that really pops.
That touchscreen dominates the centre stack and the instrument cluster is shared with other Volvo models. Both systems can take some getting used to at first, but once you become acquainted they’re relatively intuitive. There’s also voice control should you need to utilise some functions without taking your hands off the wheel. That Harmon/Kardon stereo is excellent, too, serving up sharp and punchy sound, although it lacks some of the various settings of the Bowers&Wilkins system in the XC60 and XC90.
The real highlight of XC40’s interior is the use of space and various storage solutions. There are huge pockets in the doors, a space for your laptop and hooks for your shopping. Volvo has designed this car for urban types with busy lifestyles. There’s also sufficient space for five adults, with more than ample head, leg and shoulder room for a car of this size.
In typical Volvo fashion, the seats are comfortable and supportive, although the base for the rear seat feels a little low, and can make entrance into the rear quarters a little awkward.
The boot is decent size – includes said shopping hooks – and is accessed via a power tailgate.
What we like:
- It looks cool
- Clever interior
- Gutsy engine
- Decent value
What we don’t:
- Engine can be a little noisy
- Rear seat set up a little unusual
- Cheap starter button
- Not a whole lot else
Sale or no sale?
Sale. We want one. The Volvo XC40 may be Volvo’s first attempt at a small SUV, but it’s absolutely hit the nail on the head in terms of smart design, quality, driver enjoyment and performance. If you’re in the market for such a car, we suggest you head to your local Volvo dealership.