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Can a shot of the Volvo XC formula work in its smallest measure? Six months will tell us

Our Verdict

Volvo XC40

Volvo’s XC40 arrives in the crowded premium compact SUV segment and hits the right note with design, practicality and driving style

Why we’re running it: To see if the XC40 has the substance in daily use to match its eye-catching style and if its showroom success is justified

Month 2Month 1 - Specs

Life with a Volvo XC40: Month 2

Meeting a fellow Volvoist - 5 December 2018

I was filling up the XC40 recently, when a man in an XC60 parked at the pump behind me. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him nod and smile at me. It was fellow Volvo camaraderie! The love-in continued when we passed each other in the shop. Him: “Nice new Volvo!” Me: “We have great taste!” Isn’t it great when our enthusiasm for a car or car maker brings good cheer?

Mileage: 2681

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Expecting estimates to improve - 21 November 2018

Following our observation that the XC40’s mpg wasn’t great, a reader made contact to agree. His Volvo dealer told him “fuel consumption will be rubbish for the first 3000 miles”. Based on that, we’re optimistic we’ll see improvements. So far, the mpg is excellent on the open road and particularly poor in towns. Overall, our current consumption is 28.9mpg.

Mileage: 2461

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We’ve canvassed opinions, the people have spoken – and they like it. Here’s why - 7th November 2018

It has been an easy first few weeks with our XC40 long-term test car. It has been carrier to many friends and family, all of whom have greeted it in exactly the same way: with praise. All have been interested in the car – what’s it like, what does it rival, how they’ve always liked Volvos. Me too, I say.

My theory is that awareness of Volvos is still rising and the good but different looks of the XC40 help it stand out from the crowded crowd. An old friend’s partner, who drives a Toyota Hilux, tells me he likes Volvos for their lack of ostentatiousness and how he has fond memories of an XC90 rented some years back.

That’s the thing with Volvos. People seem to have fond memories of boxy Volvos of old, such as the 200 Series or 850, and none of the bad memories of idiotic drivers on the roads like, totally hypothetically speaking (cough), they might have of a BMW or Mercedes driver…

Anyway, back to the car at hand. So far, it has done plenty of trips around the M25 and up the M1 to my home, the home counties, proving itself to be an excellent motorway cruiser. There is absolutely nothing of note on these journeys except how comfortable and peaceful it is.

There was a trip to the Shuttleworth Collection, a celebration of heritage planes but also cars, reminding us of the wonders of vehicle engineering over more than a century, helping us to progress to today – and cars as impressive as the XC40.

My partner and I took custody of my niece and nephew for an afternoon, perfectly demonstrating the family friendliness of the car. Two child seats went in easily, both in terms of fitting and size, and my three-year-old niece (“I’m four in November,” we heard a lot) approved of the car. Now that she’s noticed that aunty regularly turns up in a number of different cars, she’s a harsh critic.

Still, she was easily won over by the panoramic sunroof, and even more so when we let her control it briefly. The other weekend jaunt in the Volvo was to Thame Food Festival, full of chutney, fudge and deliciously fattening food. It was also the first chance I’ve had to take my all-wheel-drive XC40 off road. Admittedly, it was some very dry but bumpy grass, so that didn’t push its limits, but it held its own well, with far less juddering than plenty of its two-wheel-drive rivals on uneven ground.

It feels too premium and pretty to want to push the limits with it off road – which is why I predict almost no owners will use it in such a way – but still, it’s nice to know it’s there. It’s particularly comforting when thinking about the winter months ahead and my journeys to my parents on non-gritted hilly country lanes.

This outing of over-eating demonstrated decent space in the back, too. My unwilling friend (as the photo shows) was happy with the XC40’s ample leg room, even if she wasn’t allowed to eat churros in there…

The only negative comment I’ve had so far concerns the price. When family and friends ask how much the car costs and I say “around 40 grand”, their response is “well, it should be bloody nice!”. There’s no like-for-like rival in the Audi Q3 line-up but its range-topping model, the 2.0 TFSI 180PS Black Edition quattro, costs £36,945. Volvo’s ultimate range-topper – one up from ours – is the D5, which in this trim costs £37,320. The point is the Volvo might be a tad more expensive than other premium compact SUVs, but not enough to be a major negative factor in buying decisions.

Love it:

BROAD APPEAL Getting lots of good attention from friends.

Loathe it:

IRRITATING DRIVER TECH Some of its driving assistance systems are deeply annoying.

Mileage: 2349

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Life with a Volvo XC40: Month 1

Top-quality cabin finish - 17th October 2018

The XC40’s interior materials might not seem that interesting. But honestly, they are worthy of note. The industrial felt in the doors and around the footwell not only looks cool and original, but is also made from recycled plastic bottles. I like the ridged floor mats too. They’re understated, smart and different from the boring equivalents.

Mileage: 1759

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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.

These are City Safety, which can detect pedestrians, cyclists and large animals, and front collision warning with fully automatic emergency braking; Oncoming Lane Mitigation, which automatically provides steering assistance if you drift out of your lane; and Run-off Road Protection, which tightens the front seatbelts if the car leaves the road and front seat frames with a collapsible section to reduce vertical forces and help prevent spinal injuries, says Volvo.

Our option list is extensive but most notable in terms of extra cost are two packs. The first, the £1500 Intellisafe Pro, gives you more safety tech, such as rear collision mitigation and cross traffic alert, as well as auto-folding door mirrors. The second, the £1600 Xenium pack, brings the panoramic sunroof, 360deg parking camera and automatic parallel and 90deg parking.

First impressions? As I’d hoped and expected: the XC40 is instantly comfortable. Comfortable on long and short journeys, with a cosy, enclosing interior that I expect will treat me well over the winter months.

It’s perfect around town and surprisingly nifty getting into small spaces on narrow roads with parallel parking. I haven’t pushed our XC40 on the handling front yet, but that’s not its goal. Instead, the car offers light if not wholly precise steering perfect for urban driving. The R-Design Pro is a harder ride than some of the lesser trims but it is still acceptable over the endless speed bumps on my commute.

I have two minor gripes so far. The notch gearstick takes some getting used to. Presumably, it has been used to keep the feature as compact as possible, but even after a couple of weeks with the car, I sometimes have to check in the driver display that I’m in reverse, not drive, or vice versa.

The other thing is fuel economy. Official combined economy so far is 40.4mpg. We have got it to a best of 28mpg so will be watching it closely as we run the car in to see if or when that figure improves.

Second Opinion

I’m really liking the Volvo XC40. It looks great and is comfortable and well-finished. The ride’s a bit lumpy at low speed but, if that’s the price of lower-than-Audi road noise, I’ll take it any day. Surprised at the current sub-30mpg real-world fuel consumption. Maybe it’ll improve with miles. We’ll see…

Steve Cropley

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Volvo XC40 T4 R-Design Pro AWD specification

Specs: Price New £35,820 Price as tested: £41,620 Options: Convenience pack £350, Intellisafe Pro £1500, Xenium pack £1600, gearshift paddles £125, power passenger seat £300, wireless/inductive mobile phone charging £175, power-operated tailgate £375, Tempa spare wheel and jack £150, smartphone integration with two USB hubs £300, keyless entry and keyless start with remote tag plus hands-free tailgate opening/closing £350, metallic paint £575

Test Data: Engine 4-cylinder in-line, 1969cc, turbocharged petrol Power 188bhp at 4700rpm Torque 210lb-ft at 1400-4000rpm Top speed 130mph 0-62mph 8.2sec Claimed fuel economy 40.9mpg Test fuel economy 28mpg CO2 161g/km Faults None Expenses None

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Join the debate

Comments
27

5 November 2018

£36k is just OTT for a 4 pot diesel with such a bad mpg, think WhatCar had the same issue with the XC40, and extras like £175 on a wireless charger is Volvo crazy, £15 will buy you all you need from the high street. £300 for smart phone intergration, greedy on a near £40k car   

""Volvo fan" not that it's important but the V40 actually went on sale over 6 years old not 5.

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

5 November 2018
xxxx wrote:

£36k is just OTT for a 4 pot diesel with such a bad mpg, think WhatCar had the same issue with the XC40, and extras like £175 on a wireless charger is Volvo crazy, £15 will buy you all you need from the high street. £300 for smart phone intergration, greedy on a near £40k car   

""Volvo fan" not that it's important but the V40 actually went on sale over 6 years old not 5.

£36k is a lot but then this is the top of the range plus extras, also its a petrol turbo automatic 4x4 suv, so running in at 28mpg doesn't sound too bad, especially if its an urban commute that the author is doing (speed bumps etc) its certainly no more expensive than equivalent audi, bmw, merc, jlr etc. Personally I dont buy into premium as I really dont see justifiable difference in paying for a premium badge. Though I was always a volvo fan, but that was from the 850 back.

5 November 2018

"£36k is a lot but then this is the top of the range plus extras" with extras (some of which I'd expect on a top of the range) it's £41.5k.

Sorry, I put diesel earlier when I meant petrol. In which case I'd expect it to be a bit quicker too!  

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

5 November 2018
xxxx wrote:

"£36k is a lot but then this is the top of the range plus extras" with extras (some of which I'd expect on a top of the range) it's £41.5k.

Sorry, I put diesel earlier when I meant petrol. In which case I'd expect it to be a bit quicker too!  

Not sure about performance, as it's not the top spec engine, middle I think was said,  so high spec with middle engine, just like a low powered q3 in expensive s-line trim, I agreed that it is expensive but aren't all the so called premium competitors as well? 

22 November 2018
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24 November 2018
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22 November 2018
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3 January 2019
si73 wrote:

xxxx wrote:

£36k is just OTT for a 4 pot diesel with such a bad mpg, think WhatCar had the same issue with the XC40, and extras like £175 on a wireless charger is Volvo crazy, £15 will buy you all you need from the high street. £300 for smart phone intergration, greedy on a near £40k car   

""Volvo fan" not that it's important but the V40 actually went on sale over 6 years old not 5.

£36k is a lot but then this is the top of the range plus extras, also its a petrol turbo automatic 4x4 suv, so running in at 28mpg doesn't sound too bad, especially if its an urban commute that the author is doing (speed bumps etc) its certainly no more expensive than equivalent audi, bmw, merc, jlr etc. Personally I dont buy into premium as I really dont see justifiable difference in paying for a premium badge. Though I was always a volvo fan, but that was from the 850 back.

My Wife’s Petrol powered 1.2 Ibiza does 45mpg, admittedly there’s no stop start traffic, it’s only twelve miles per Day, so saying 28mpg from a Deisel in the article is acceptable seems strange?, if you were only getting this figure you’d be back at the Garage wanting some answers...

Peter Cavellini.

5 November 2018

The trouble for me is that you could have a top of the range Mokka with everything on it, and petrol-auto (same as this Volvo) for £28,000 (and that's before discounting).  Now, I know some will say it isn't exactly the same class, but that's by the way - think of who will buy these two.  Paying £15,000 more (after discount on the Mokka) for the Volvo doesn't seem right - £15,000 MORE!  The Mokka is REALLY good, despite what car journalists say, I know, I have one.  I can't help but think Volvo have priced this way too high.  I've looked at buying one, but there's nothing about it that actually justifies me paying £15,000 more than my Mokka.  I have a Jimny, too, so I could buy a top-of-the-range Mokka AND a Jimny for the same price as this Volvo!

I say my bit, then go. So although I'm interested in what you may initially say, I don't care what you think about what I've written, so I won't read whatever your reply is.

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