Volvo has launched the XC 40 at 39.99 lakhs(Ex-India)
+ World’s safest compact SUV. Period.
+ Superb European styling. The GLA doesn’t even come close to this.
+ Feature loaded. Name it and You have it.
+ Top notch quality of materials used in every corner of the car
– The gear-box felt jerky. Could have tuned it better IMO
– Volvo after-sales service isn’t something to write about. Hopefully, Volvo will add more service centres to tier-2 cities
– The steering is on the lighter side. Strictly, not for a petrol-head
– Like the XC 60, the infotainment is still heavily prone to fingerprints
How does it look?
The Volvo XC40 sets the right tone with a fresh, unique look that is both on-brand and upscale. From some angles, the XC40 is conservatively handsome: Volvo’s corporate grille and T-shape headlights. From other views, though, the XC40 steps out of its segment shell. An available contrasting white or black roof that extends partway down the notched C-pillar just completes the aesthetic package.
The XC40 is longer, wider and taller than the Audi Q3, and has a longer wheelbase too, but it is shorter than the BMW X1 in terms of length. Lay your eyes on the XC40 and a shrunken XC60 it is not. The signature front grille with the massive ‘iron logo’ in the centre, is smaller with horizontal slats and so are the headlamps with Thor’s hammer LED DRLs. Being an R-Design, there aren’t any chrome bits, instead, everything is blacked-out in line to look sporty. Body cladding is more pronounced and the 18-inch wheels wrapped in 235/55 Pirelli rubber are just stunning. There’s also an option of 20-inch wheels, though not for the Indian market. The upward sloping window line at the rear is distinctive. The rear tail-lamps are unmistakably Volvo and the dual chrome mufflers round up an exciting package.
To start with, this Volvo will be available only in a single fully loaded variant called R-Design which gets radar-based safety features like lane keeping assist, autonomous braking, and adaptive cruise control. Like the more expensive S90 sedan, this SUV gets the familiar 2.0-litre, a four-cylinder diesel engine in the D4 state of tune (190hp, 400Nm), mated to an eight-speed transmission. All-wheel drive is standard.
What’s on the Inside?
The front seats are some of the best you’ll find in any family SUV. There’s a wide range of adjustment for tilt and height, plus four-way electric lumbar adjustment on all versions.
Not that the absence of buttons in the touchscreen infotainment is all good news. While the idea of a screen that lets you swipe, pinch and scroll, like you do with an iPad, sounds good in theory, in reality, it means simple tasks, such as changing the radio station or tapping an address into the sat-nav, require concentration. It’s not helped by the fact that some of the icons are small and the screen doesn’t always react that quickly to presses.
Even with a panoramic roof, there’s plenty of headroom. Volvo has even moved the lower audio speakers from the doors to the dashboard to free up extra space.
Even though rear head and leg room aren’t as plentiful as they are in rivals such as the BMW X1 and Volkswagen Tiguan, the XC40 is still more than roomy enough for tall adults to sit comfortably without their heads brushing the roof lining or knees hitting the back of the front seats.
Three adults sitting side by side is also perfectly doable, thanks to the relatively wide rear bench, although the high central tunnel along the floor does limit foot space for the middle passenger.
How does it drive?
The XC40 comes standard with a few drive modes, including Eco, Comfort, Off-Road, Dynamic, and Individual (a customizable setting for steering and powertrain response). Though the differences between these modes are subtle, and the XC40’s suspension damping remains unchanged, Off-Road and Eco modes are useful for their intended driving conditions.
A downside is that it feels a tad too relaxed. Even putting it in Dynamic mode doesn’t make it feel sporty in any sense. Initial throttle response feels a little laggy and indirect and could’ve been sharper. But on the go, it never feels underpowered. Refinement and noise insulation leave little to be desired and the transmission is slick between changes, if not lightning quick.
Also, the eight-speed gearbox can be a bit indecisive, and when it does make a choice it’s often accompanied by a jerk. I found myself using the paddle shifters. It meant I could keep the engine in its most sonically acceptable rpm range, as well as make sure the transmission wasn’t shifting under load.
There’s a pause before the boost from the turbocharger kicks in and, even then, it’s not as healthy a slug of power as you might like. The automatic gearbox can feel a little hesitant when you want a quick burst of acceleration but it’s generally smooth thereafter.
How does it fare on bad roads?
Curiously, the XC40 rides most comfortably on ‘sports’ suspension, which is fitted as standard to R-Design versions. There’s a bit of side-to-side movement along uneven roads with both suspension set-ups, but this is the case in the vast majority of SUVs and largely a matter of physics.
Should I buy one?
As an urban SUV aimed at winning over deep-pocketed and young buyers, the XC40 ticks a lot of the right boxes. Its true blue SUV styling itself will draw an audience that eats with its eyes.
The XC40 is an upright and solid SUV rather than pretending too hard to be a car-like crossover. Volvo has made something nicely distinctive here. That’s helped by the fact the values of an SUV correspond with many of the values of Volvo. It’s a comfy drive that imparts a sense of all-weather security. It keeps you calm rather than goading you into vigorous cornering, but if you insist on it anyway, it won’t go to pieces.
The cabin is extremely well-organised and practical, with some handy storage ideas that really work. It’s also roomy and well-made, out of nice materials. The only weakness is the powertrains: they’re not that refined, and rivals have some better performance-economy compromises.