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Volvo XC40 – Expert review

Volvo XC40 – Expert review

Snapshot: After the successful launch of its bigger XC90 and XC60 SUVs, Volvo no wants a bigger chunk of the SUV segment with the desirable and more affordable XC40.

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Volvo is going through a design renaissance of its own, especially in the SUV game. The new XC40 mimics the style of the bigger and more expensive SUVs in the range but costs less than half without missing on the key features. Volvo is hoping that this will help it pull in customers into its showrooms and also help it establish the brand with a larger section of buyers. Without giving away too much of the story away, the XC40 was the Car of the year award winner at the International car of the year awards earlier this year, which means it already has a head start compared to rivals.

Exteriors

The car looks more substantial than its main rivals, the Audi q3, BMW X1 and Mercedes GLA. While its rivals look like hatchbacks running on stilts and body armour mounted, the XC40 looks like a slightly downsized version of the XC60. Volvo has managed to get the proportions spot on. The stylish grille up ahead doesn’t have any chrome, the T-design inside the headlamps looks cool too. The side angle with its square lines compliments the rear end with its tall, Christmas-tree like lamps. Overall, the car looks effortlessly cool and very desirable in the looks department.

Interiors

Minimalistic yet classy and relaxing. That’s the best way to describe the cabin of this car. The all black cabin will come with the option of having a lava-coloured highlights or a complete black one all across. The highlight again is the portrait mode touchscreen system for the various systems. There are only seven buttons in total around the centre console, which makes it completely clutter free. You will also enjoy the nicely carved out front seats, which are great for relaxation. In terms of equipment, you get plenty of safety kit, including multiple airbags, lane keeping aid (which uses radar), park assist and a sunroof just to name a few.

Passengers in the back too get a nice seat with ample head and legroom on offer. However, the backrest angle is a tad too straight and there is a huge lump in the floor pan which makes it a two-seater at best. The massive boot is generous on space and you can drop the rear seatbacks down to liberate even more room.

Engine, performance and gearbox

You only get one engine option in the form of a 2-litre diesel with 190bhp of power and 400Nm of torque. Power is transmitted via an eight-speed automatic gearbox with very good shifts. The shifts are effortless, smooth and quick. The extra gears also mean that flexibility of the engine is very good. So if you are on the highway doing speeds in excess of 100kph, the car is spinning at around 1,500 rpm, making the cabin a nice and relaxed place. The nice part about the engine is that it doesn’t suffer from too much of turbo lag. Unlike rivals which need to be fed atleast 2,000 revs to get going, this unit needs around 1,700-1,800 rpms to feel lively.

The 0-100kph dash is claimed at 7.9 seconds and seems totally doable.

Ride and handling

No matter which setting you choose, the Volvo XC40 simply isn’t a keen driver’s car and that’s okay. This car errs on the side of comfort more than anything. Even in the dynamic setting, the suspension is supple, and manages to soak up most of the bumps easily. The steering is overtly light in the normal comfort setting and even on dynamic mode, it doesn’t feel very feelsome. So people who want the ultimate driving machine will still need to look at a BMW X1. But no rival can match the Volvo for sheer relaxation. If you’ve had a bad day at work, this cars light controls should be enough to liven your mood.

Summary

The Volvo XC40 might be the baby of the bunch but it can pack a punch above its class. With its class leading features, comfortable cabin and effortless engine performance, the new XC40 is huge on desirability. Don’t be surprised if it is the most awarded car this awards season.

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