Volvo XC40 review
“It’s not the most sporty SUV to drive, but the Volvo XC40 is stylish, comfortable and loaded with safety features”
- Appealing design
- Comfortable and refined
- Plenty of standard equipment
- Average to drive
- No diesel engine option
- Less spacious than some rivals
The Volvo XC40 is a small and stylish family car that’s the entrypoint to the brand’s SUV line-up, slotting into the range below the XC60 and the XC90. Thanks to characterful design, it stands out in a crowd, but it’s not short of appealing rivals, including the Jaguar E-Pace, Audi Q3, BMW X1, Mercedes GLA, DS 7 Crossback, MINI Countryman and Lexus UX.
The XC40 has a style of its own that’s quite different from the curvy lines of the larger XC60. In contrast, the XC40 features a sharper profile with a flat bonnet and a vertical grille. Also, clever details like the ‘Thor’s Hammer’ daytime running light and upswept rear windows help give it a contemporary look that’s muscular and imposing too.p>
Volvo’s larger cars have always had great-looking interiors in recent years, and the XC40 brings a similar level of design quality to the game inside. It also has a high-tech feel thanks to Volvo’s excellent portrait Sensus touchscreen system and an impressive digital instrument cluster.
The powerful and efficient T4 and T5 Recharge plug-in hybrid models have now joined the range. They're a bit more expensive than other XC40 models but not compared to other PHEVs, and Volvo will pay for your first year’s charging too. There are also conventional engines to choose from. A fully electric model, called the Volvo XC40 Recharge P8, is also available with a range of up to 259 miles and a 0-62mph time of 4.7 seconds, but it's expensive.
The petrol engines are worthy of consideration, too, especially if you plan on shorter trips. The B4 and B5 models now come with a mild-hybrid assistance system consisting of a starter-generator and a 48-volt battery. This is designed to give the engine a boost under load, helping to improve efficiency and acceleration.
The B5 is the fastest petrol XC40 on offer right now, getting from 0-62mph in 6.1 seconds. The T2 and T3 are powered by Volvo’s first-ever three-cylinder engine, a 1.5-litre that’s essentially the 2.0-litre engine with a quarter of its length chopped off. This is used in the T4 and T5 Recharge plug-in hybrids, and the addition of an electric motor is welcome because on their own the T2 and T3 feel a bit underpowered compared to the other models. Volvo says the plug-in hybrids can both manage up to 134.5mpg and around 28 miles of pure-electric running. The middle petrol offering from Volvo is the B4 mild-hybrid; its thirsty 2.0-litre turbo engine does give pretty decent performance but suffers in comparison with top rivals on fuel economy.
Until late 2020, D3 and D4 diesels were offered with economy of between 40 to 50mpg depending on whether you opted for front or four-wheel drive, a manual or automatic gearbox and large or small alloy wheels, but diesel engines have now been dropped from the XC40 range.
The XC40 is offered in three trim levels, Momentum, Inscription and R-Design, plus a new entry-level Momentum Core model for 2020. The Momentum models are the entry point into the range with Inscription adding more equipment, while the R-Design focuses on the look of the XC40, adding various sporty styling accessories and material upgrades. In addition to the three main trim levels, Volvo offers Pro packs for each with extra features.
Standard equipment on every XC40 includes LED headlights, cruise control, heated door mirrors, a 12.3-inch digital instrument display, and a sat-nav system with touchscreen control. You'll need to pay a £300 premium for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto though, which is a little pricey - especially when many manufacturers throw it in for free.
Driving the XC40 isn’t quite as engaging as a Jaguar E-Pace, or even a Mazda CX-5, but it’s better than a DS 7 Crossback and suitably comfortable for an SUV that you’re likely to be driving with passengers of all ages on board. The steering feels precise and well weighted, its suspension shouldn’t induce any feelings of sea sickness and road noise is well contained too. Potholes and ruts can be felt at lower speeds, though, so we’d recommend sticking with smaller 18- or 19-inch wheels rather than the 21-inch versions that can be specified.