Car review: Volvo XC40; the small SUV that’s big on innovation

Volvo XC40,  Volvo XC40 review,  Volvo XC40 SUV, volvo

Scenario 1: If your vehicle accidentally drifts out of its lane, the steering wheel sends a signal to alert you.

Scenario 1: If your vehicle accidentally drifts out of its lane, the steering wheel sends a signal to alert you. If you don’t react, a technology called Lane Keeping Aid automatically steers it back into its lane.

Scenario 2: If you’re approaching a slower-moving or stopped vehicle at a speed that suggests a collision is likely, a technology called Pilot Assist applies brakes. It also maintains a steady speed and distance to the vehicle in front.

Scenario 3: If, say, you fall asleep and the vehicle is about to leave the road, a technology called Run-off Road Mitigation uses steering input and brake support to guide it back on the road. Welcome to the future of driving. The new Volvo XC40 that will be launched on July 4 gets these and many other semi-autonomous driving technologies. We recently drove this entry-level luxury SUV.

What is the XC40?

It’s the newest SUV by Volvo Cars. This compact SUV, like all modern Volvo cars, has an expressive design, ingenious storage and smart technologies. It’s built for city driving.

What defines its design?

Because it’s made for the city and younger customers, the design is compact and youthful, but with authentic SUV proportions. In fact, from some angles, it appears to be inspired by sci-fi movies and even consumer electronics. Ian Kettle, the lead exterior designer, calls the XC40 ‘Tough Little Robot.’
It stands tall—the high ground clearance of 211mm (unladen) and large wheels make the XC40 look bigger than it actually is.

Is it ‘smart’ inside?

There are some smart storage features, such as door bins large enough for laptops and handbags, and a bin under the centre armrest that can hold a full-size tissue box. Loading and unloading your luggage is easy, thanks to features such as power-operated tailgate that opens simply by moving your foot under the rear bumper. Also, while five people can comfortably sit inside, this SUV is ideally for four people to travel in super-comfort.

The nine-inch centre touchscreen is as responsive as, say, that of an iPhone or a Galaxy—it gets both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The resolution of the screen is good, and the system’s voice control understands normal speech. Wireless phone charging is standard. The sound system is impressive—Volvo has removed the woofers from the front doors and installed them under the dashboard, near the AC vents. The result is the sound ‘spreads’ better and clearer inside the cabin. The system is by Harman Kardon.

The cabin is bright. During the day, the panoramic roof lets in a lot of natural light; by night, the LED interior lights highlight the sculpted dashboard and storage spaces. Overall, the cabin has a simplistic yet functional design. However, if you are a tall person, there’s one, just one thing you might have to take note of. When you shift the orientation of the sunshade from the windscreen to the side window, you’ll have to move your head away—the sunshade is big and can scrape against your forehead.

What’s under the bonnet?

It has the 2.0-litre diesel engine that produces 190bhp of power and 400Nm of torque. The engine is mated to the eight-speed Geartronic automatic transmission.

How does it drive?

It’s the same engine that powers other, heavier Volvo cars, so in the lighter XC40 (1,684kg) the feel of power, and acceleration, is intense. Moreover, this engine delivers high power at relatively low RPM, so be it city or highway driving, you always feel in control.

The XC40 has a high seating position that gives good visibility. Handling is agile and steering is responsive. The all-wheel drive technology and Michelin tyres provide very good traction.

How safe is it?

It gets technologies that protect not only the occupants but also pedestrians. For example, City Safety, which is like an extra pair of eyes—it identifies other vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and even large animals ahead—and warns you if a collision is imminent; if you don’t react in time, it will brake automatically. Airbags, ABS and other safety features are a given.

How much will it be priced?

The XC40 will be launched as a fully-loaded vehicle and there won’t be any compromise on features or safety. It will compete with BMW X1 (which is its closest competitor), Mercedes-Benz GLA (which looks more like a hatchback) and Audi Q3 (which has started showing its age). So, ideally, the XC40 should be priced nearer to that of the fully-loaded X1, which is the M Sport. We expect Rs 40-44 lakh, ex-showroom, for this ‘most equipped’ SUV.

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