In the last decade, the Swedish/Chinese company behind the Volvo XC40 has mainly made SUVs. And they’re proving incredibly popular around the globe.
The desirable XC40 arrived to immediate acclaim in 2018, winning loads of awards, including European Car of the Year and What Car? Car of the Year. It’s a 5-door, 5-seater that is as small as a family hatchback but sits tall and purposeful.
With big wheel arches, a tailgate spoiler and muscular concave flanks, the chunky good looks echo Volvo’s bigger XC90 and XC70 – while adding a likeable cheeky style of their own. It’s generally thought of as one of the best Volvo designs of recent times.
It’s a 5-door, 5-seater that is as small as a family hatchback but sits tall and purposeful.
What’s it like to drive?
The small Volvo crossover is unflustered on the road, offering smooth, refined progress on motorways and composed handling through twisty stretches. It’s always comfortable.
Two-wheel-drive versions offer plenty of cornering grip. Four-wheel-drive models add even more. Go for the R-Design models for a sporty suspension that creates more agile handling.
Drivers will find the interesting range of engines offers different performance characteristics, which can be finetuned with the option of a 6-speed manual or 6-speed auto gearbox. The P8 electric model, for example, has acceleration to match most sports cars.
It’s always comfortable.
The XC40’s cabin feels very classy and robust, with a mix of suitably upmarket soft-touch materials dotted around. There’s just the right amount of neat wood or metal inserts. It suits the relaxed, smooth driving style of most XC40s.
Look out for versions with funky coloured inserts in the door bins for a more youthful vibe.
Volvo seats are famously good. The XC40 driver gets a great one. It’s multi-adjustable, has excellent visibility and faces a very neat dashboard. This is a masterpiece of Scandi-design, of course, with no fuss or frills. Everything is where it should be with few buttons or switches and clear digital displays. The highlight is a bright portrait touchscreen that controls all infotainment - a bit like a tablet computer with easy-to-follow graphics.
Try the stereo - on most versions it’s really good thanks to lots of well-placed speakers, including on top of the dashboard. There’s sat-nav and real-time traffic updates via the screen. Phone integration was an optional extra so most - but not all - XC40s have it.
The interior basics are good. It’s a light, airy and spacious place to be. The front is particularly good for heads and legs, and the back is much more roomy than you’d think, looking at the compact dimensions from the outside.
Every version seems to have a huge amount of equipment. Top-spec models are opulent – expect high-end details like a powered tailgate, electrically adjusted front seats and ultra-cool ambient lighting.
Considering the XC40’s size, it’s pretty versatile. The back seats should fit a couple of adults easily. A third can get in but, like most rivals, won’t be too comfortable for long.
The boot is wide and well-shaped, so you can easily fit a weekend’s luggage or big load of shopping. The underfloor storage area could be very handy while optional space dividers and hangers stop your luggage rolling around while you’re driving.
Back seats fold completely flat to increase your space when required. Models with extra batteries are designed so these don’t eat up any of the boot space. The totally electric version even has luggage space under the front bonnet.
You’ll find practical touches throughout the cabin, like the USB socket for back seat passengers, a folding hook on the glovebox door to hang takeaways, and a removable, washable bin between the seats.
Look out for some of the more desirable optional extras. Some versions have a wireless phone charging pad or a panoramic sunroof.
Running costs and reliability
There is a choice of punchy petrol and diesel engines, petrol/electric hybrids and all-electric EVs. Generally, their fuel economy is comparable to rivals. The petrol and diesel engines offer fairly average fuel consumption, with the worst of the figures around 31mpg – most of them should do much better than that.
The emission-free electric, of course, uses none at all. It has a claimed range of around 248 miles. The hybrids have their own official way of calculating fuel use and it registers a huge potential of up to 139mpg.
The XC40 is beautifully built, with tight panels and robust interior fittings. Volvo’s reliability appears to be improving although repairs may be slightly more expensive than average.
What cinch loves
Like a mini version of a big luxury SUV, the Volvo XC40 is one of the best crossovers to buy. It manages to look chunky and cute at the same time. It’s a great all-rounder, with that stylish Swedish image, a strong safety reputation, brilliant premium cabin and clever practical touches throughout. The 5-door is spacious and comfortable inside, and nice to drive. And there are even hybrid and electric versions.