Volvo XC40: what’s the big attraction?

Riley Riley


What is it?

XC40 is Wheels Car of the Year and now the biggest selling model in the Volvo range.

Last year the larger XC60 claimed the crown, but the smaller, better priced and, I might add, more attractive XC40, was always going to succeed.

It’s not that small either which is no doubt part of the attraction.

At 4425mm long and with a wheelbase of 2702mm, it is in fact larger than the Kia Sportage which is classed as a medium-sized SUV — how’s that work?


What’s it cost?

Prices start at $44,990 for the front-wheel drive T4 Momentum.

Our test vehicle, the T4 Inscription, is priced from $50,990, while the top of the range T5 R-Design is $55,990.

There are of course options and option packs.

At the price, Inscription looked a little too good to be true and it was to some extent.

Standard kit includes leather accent seats and two-zone climate air conditioning, along with power adjust front seats, seat memory and four-way power adjust lumbar support for the driver, and it rides on 19 inch alloys with 235/50 series rubber and space saver spare.

There’s also a chilled glovebox, LED ‘Hammer Of Thor’ Headlights that bend with the wheel, a power operated tailgate, 9.0 inch vertically mounted touchscreen, satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, DAB+ digital radio and premium audio.

On top of this the vehicle is fitted with a string of safety systems including automatic emergency braking (AEB) — called City Safety in Volvo speak — with pedestrian, vehicle, large animals and cyclist detection, intersection collision and oncoming mitigation with brake and steering support.

We discovered later that the test vehicle was fitted with the $2500 Technology Pack and a few other goodies that brings the total price to $57,400 plus on roads.

The pack includes Adaptive Cruise Control, 360 degree camera and Park Assist Pilot.

The vehicle was also optioned with Heated Front Seats: ($550); Alarm ($480); Tinted Rear Glass: ($700); Power Folding Rear Backrest ($250); Heated Rear Seat ($350); Lockable Glovebox ($30); Heated Steering Wheel ($350); Harman/Kardon Premium Sound System ($1200).

A crystal gear lever knob is a novelty (we’ll get to this in a minute).


What’s it go like?

Not bad.

The 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine produces 140kW of power and 300Nm of torque, the latter from a low 1400 revs.

It’s hooked up to an 8-speed auto, with auto stop-start, different drive modes to select from plus torque on demand all-wheel drive — but alas no gear shift paddles for the impatient.

The dash from 0-100km/h takes a claimed 8.5 seconds with a top speed of 210km/h.

Fuel consumption from the smallish 54-litre tank is rated at 7.4L/100km, but we were getting 9.3L/100km after 330km — a little disappointing.

The Inscription model is skewed more towards luxury than performance and while it gets going, the suspension setup is a little too soft and floaty for our liking — even in performance mode.

The engine too feels as though it is always spooling up or down, unless you’re really up it — as we discovered over some of our favourite back roads.

This is not a criticism, rather confirmation of the design.

If performance is your thing, then the R-Design model with 45kW more power, 6.4 seconds and a sports chassis is probably the better choice.

The crystal gear lever knob is a novelty touch, but it took us a bit to get the hang of changing gears.

For some reason I kept trying to push the short throw lever left or right before trying to move up or down.

Really, all that’s required, is a nudge backwards or forwards using your thumb and forefinger to pinch the thing.

Duh . . . It drove us nuts to start with.

To change gears manually requires a nudge left or right once you’re in manual mode, but there’s nothing to really indicate this.

That nudge literally becomes a slap sideways when we were really exploring the limits of the vehicle.

The cabin is light and bright in typical Volvo fashion, with splashes of driftwood and metal trim.

The LCD dash displays a pair of analogue-style dials with the navigation map stretched between them.

It’s not only practical, but looks impressive too.

Speed is displayed digitally as well as traditionally, with camera generated speed limit display that flashes when you exceed the limit.

Most things however are controlled from the large, vertically-mounted touchscreen that dominates the cabin, with other screens accessed with a swipe left or right and up and down.

The focus is clearly on ease and intuitiveness of operation, and for the most part it works.

If you’re into music, you should consider the $1200 Harman/Kardon audio system a must have option.

Tow rating for this one by the way is 2000kg.


What we like?

  • Roomy interior
  • Chunky good looks
  • Light, bright Nordic cabin
  • Rear air vents
  • Map display between dials
  • Camera generated speed limit display
  • Wireless charge pad


What we don’t like?

  • The gear knob
  • No gear change paddles
  • Aggressive auto braking
  • Higher than expected fuel consumption


The bottom line?

What’s not to like?

It’s stylish, a good size and a very good price for a premium product with high levels of safety equipment.

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Volvo XC40 T4 Inscription, priced from $50,990
  • Looks - 8/10
  • Performance - 7.5/10
  • Safety - 8.5/10
  • Thirst - 7.5/10
  • Practicality - 7.5/10
  • Comfort - 7.5/10
  • Tech - 8/10
  • Value - 8.5/10

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