By Barry Green
The Volvo prestige SUV family has expanded, with ‘little’ brother XC40 joining its bigger siblings, 2018 World Car of the Year XC60 and well-credentialed XC90.
Buyer response has been immediate, with all 203 well-stacked Launch Edition units reportedly sold, despite a hefty premium in price.
Launch Editions aside, RRPs range from $47,990 for the base Momentum to $57,990 for the sporty R-Design variants.
This compares with the segment-leading BMW X1 (from $45,900 plus on-roads), Mercedes-Benz GLA ($43,900), Audi Q2 ($41,800) and Q3 ($43,400), Lexus NX ($54,800), Infiniti QX30 ($48,900), Mini Countryman ($41,300) and the recently launched Jaguar E-Pace ($47,750). Like the XC40, all prices exclude on-road costs.
Being a Volvo, safety is paramount. Standard equipment includes lane keeping assistance with up to 15 seconds hands-free, auto emergency braking (AEB) with cyclist and pedestrian detection, seven airbags, rear camera, front/rear park sensors and speed zone recognition. Options include radar cruise control, blind zone alert, rear cross traffic warning and AEB 360-degree camera.
Designed and engineered in Sweden and built in Belgium, the XC40 is a fine fusion of style and function. Build and finish quality is strong – even for the prestige segment – and comfort levels high. Connectivity is extensive, centrepiece of which is a tablet-sized vertical touchscreen with ‘pinch and swipe’ functionality.
Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, digital radio and built-in navigation comes standard. The front of the cabin is roomy and airy; the rear not quite so. The cargo area is (comparative for the segment) generous at 460 litres.
There’s a choice of 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engines: T5, a 182kW/350Nm turbo petrol unit, and D4, a 140kW/400Nm twin-turbo diesel. An entry-level turbo petrol three-cylinder engine is coming, in late 2019-20.
Only the T5 was available at launch. Mated with an eight-speed auto and on-demand all-wheel-drive, it makes for an impressive drive, with more than adequate response delivered smoothly and fuss-free. Claimed 0-100km/h is a swift 6.5 seconds. ADR combined cycle fuel economy amounts to 7.1 litres/100km using 95-98RON PULP.
As well as stretching its legs, our drive through the Classic Adelaide rally stages of the Adelaide Hills also offered ample opportunity to test handling and ride.
Rolling on 20-inch Pirelli performance rubber, there was grip and traction aplenty and the XC40 cornered flat and with no discernible body roll. The steering, initially a little light on feel, weightens agreeably in Dynamic drive mode.
Ride quality is often compromised by such tall wheels, but the Volvo handled the back-road bumps and changes of surface with impressive compliance.
So, what’s not to like? Very little, except for the usual space saver spare wheel, a comparatively wide turning circle (11.4m) and relatively high capped price servicing ($2165 over three years).