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Welcoming the XC40 to the fleet - 10th October 2018
Reader, a disclaimer: I’m a Volvo fan. I love its cars for not being ostentatiously German yet still premium, I love them for having a bit of cool Swedishness about them and I love them for their comfort. I sold my 2009 C30 a few years ago, and still regret it.
I’m not alone, though. Volvo has undergone a resurgence in recent years, with an incredibly fresh model line-up (the oldest model, the V40, is five years old and will be replaced next year). Testament to this is last year’s sales figures: Volvo sold 571,577 cars worldwide, an increase of 7% on the previous year. By comparison, Jaguar sold 178,601.
In the SUV sector, the XC90 and XC60 have already done wonders in their respective segments, but last year came arguably the most important of them all: the XC40.
This compact SUV brings some welcome fresh blood into a hugely competitive segment: it vies with the Mercedes-Benz GLA, BMW X1, Audi Q3, Range Rover Evoque and a plethora of cheaper but very good rivals, such as the Seat Ateca and Nissan Qashqai.
So far, the XC40 has certainly proved its worth. It sold 5610 units in Europe in July, more than the XC60 and more than double its rival, the Evoque – which is reason enough for Autocar to see whether the hype is justified by having one on our fleet for the next six months.
Looks are always subjective but, personally, I reckon Volvo has nailed the XC40. It manages to appear different from the XC90 and XC60 while still having a commonality and, crucially, it stands out from all the other compact SUVs on the road. Its British designer, Ian Kettle, has since been poached by Tesla, showing that it has been well received not only by buyers but the industry too.
We’ve gone for the middle-of-the-range petrol engine, the four-cylinder 2.0-litre producing 187bhp and called T4, in range-topping R-Design Pro trim. The T4 comes only with all-wheel drive and an automatic eight-speed transmission, although, of course, plenty of the variants are available with front-wheel drive and a manual ’box. For now, the entry-level D3 diesel remains the biggest seller in the UK, but Volvo expects it to swing towards petrol in the not too distant future.
Our XC40 achieves 0-62mph in a respectable 8.5sec. The fastest variant, the T5, shaves 2.0sec off that and the slowest is the D3 AWD with automatic gearbox at 10.4sec. Our car costs £35,820. We have plenty of options, but even the most basic XC40 has a good specification.
This includes navigation, a 9.0in centre console touchscreen, rear parking sensors, LED headlights with active high beam, cruise control and hill-start assist. Volvo prides itself on leading on car safety (earlier this year, research found that there had never been any passenger or driver fatalities from car-on-car collisions in an XC90 in the UK since 2004, when records started) and so it includes three safety systems as standard.