Volvo's new small premium SUV tested on Irish roads
Pros: Stand out styling, comfortable cabin, standard equipment and tech
Cons: Steering wheel adjustment, more spacious rivals, not an off roader
Volvo is bolstering its SUV range like every other car manufacturer these days, and the XC40 is the Swedish brand’s first ever small premium SUV offering. Mixing striking looks with a premium cabin and the firm's latest technology, the XC40 joins the XC60 and XC90 in Volvo’s SUV stable, and it will compete with popular crossovers like the Audi Q3 and BMW X1. We spent a week with the XC40 on Irish roads recently to see how it compares to its rivals and if it has mass market appeal.
What is it like?
The XC40 will win new fans for Volvo with its sculpted youthful styling. Thanks to its customisable colour schemes, striking Thors hammer LED headlights and large pronounced front grille, the XC40 stands out from the crowd and creates a great first impression. It takes styling inspiration from its larger sibling, the Volvo XC60, and it is undoubtedly one of the best-looking cars in its class. We drove a high specification R-Design model with 18-inch alloy wheels and the ‘Bursting Blue’ paint scheme looks great in the metal.
Even though the XC40 is based on a smaller platform than the XC60, it is very roomy inside with a clean layout to the driver’s area and lots of nice tech. Although it looks compact from the outside, there’s enough room to seat three adults in the rear and reasonable room in the boot with 432 litres of space. There is a wide range of adjustment available from the seats, but we would like more steering wheel reach adjustment. The XC40 is kitted out with a 12.3-inch digital driver's instrument cluster as standard and there’s also a slick nine-inch portrait touch screen system in the centre console which is the same system found in Volvo’s other models including the S90 saloon.
The XC40 is currently available with one engine in Ireland, a 2.0-litre turbocharged D4 diesel unit with strong performance credentials. All-wheel drive is standard, as is a fully eight speed automatic transmission, and the D4 engine produces 190bhp which is more than most compact SUVs. It accelerates briskly with 0-100km/h taking under eight seconds and strong overtaking abilities at higher speeds. In terms of economy, we achieved 6 litres/100 kilometres of driving during mixed driving conditions, while annual road tax is listed at €280.
Out on the road, the XC40 offers an ideal mix of comfort and driving dynamics. Ride quality is good, even with the large 18-inch alloy wheels that are fitted as standard, and for the most part it corners well through corners. Don’t expect superb driving dynamics however, as a traditional hatchback or the Volkswagen Tiguan makes easier work of tight turns. Although the XC40 has all-wheel-drive and even an off road driving mode, it isn’t a true off roader however.
The XC40 is priced at the premium end of the scale with prices starting from €38,900 in base Momentum specification. Standard equipment is excellent, with 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, the digital driver’s display, a suite of driver and safety aids, parking sensors, heated seats and satellite navigation all included. Step up to R-Design specification dds additional R-Design gloss black styling details, upgraded alloy wheels, R-Design seats and upholstery among many other upgrades, but it is rather expensive in this spec. Our test car leaves nothing to be desired with every optional extra under the sun, including 20-inch alloy wheels and a full Harmon Kardon premium sound system, but it is priced accordingly at well over €60k!
Carzone verdict: 3.5/5
The Volvo XC40 is a strong new contender in the small premium SUV space, with very distinctive styling, a refined and comfortable drive and a groovy cabin among its highlights. It delivers punchy performance out on the road, and we love how the interior is designed with intuitive tech and infotainment. Those seeking XC60-level refinement and quality may be left disappointed by the Xc40 however as it isn't as comfortable on bumpy roads, and it is quite expensive in high specification which will dissuade some buyers. As the baby model in Volvo's SUV range however, the XC40 is a mature and accomplished option.
Test Car Details:
Model driven: Volvo XC40 D4 R-Design
Prices from: €38,900
Price as tested: €63,425
Annual Road Tax: €280
Engine: 1969cc turbocharged diesel
Top Speed: 209km/h
0-100km/h: 7.9 seconds
Body style: SUV
Boot Space: 432 litres