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Volvo’s new XC40 driven


Is the XC40 the Volvo that South Africans have been waiting for? I flew to Barcelona, Spain to sample this new compact SUV from the Swedish car maker. It is packed with new technology and clever features. Has it got what it takes to make an impact? I definitely think so.

The styling

It’s unmistakably Volvo, in fact, it’s unmistakably Swedish in design. Clean, flowing lines, an aggressive front-end featuring the brand’s new inverted grille and trademark Thor’s Hammer LED daytime running lights grabbed my attention. The rear is also standard Volvo SUV fare and features the now signature vertical taillights on either side of the sculptured tailgate.

It’s youthful

The XC40, especially when viewed from the outside, does seem to be more youthful in its appearance as per its intended target audience. An assortment of customisation trim pieces are offered with the sporty R-Design being my  favourite, thanks to its bigger wheels, flared bumpers and a black roof.

The interior

Inside the XC40, I noticed that much of the look and feel can be compared to that of the more premium models in the Volvo stable. One of the main attractions is the nine-inch Sensus Connect infotainment system and the TFT instrument cluster, as well as the premium levels of fit-and-finish. The R-Design I drove also had black sports seats and a Lava Red option for the carpets, transmission tunnel and door panels.

It’s also practical

Still keeping with those door panels, well they don’t have speakers in them. Instead, a single ventilated speaker replaces both, albeit relocated to the dashboard. According to Volvo, this improves sound quality as air is pumped directly through.

This means that storage is best in class. I managed to fit a laptop bag into the storage compartment. The centre armrest storage has also been designed to fit more and there is another storage area for smaller items.

It is however the boot that impresses most. The designers have made better use of  the space allowing for different storage configurations. The XC40 is built on Volvo’s new Compact Modular Architecture, which is a global mid-sized platform expected to underpin the next range of small Volvo models.

The drive

The XC40 will be arriving in South Africa around April next year with a choice of two engine options; a D4 turbodiesel and T5 turbo-petrol. All models will feature all-wheel drive, an eight-speed Geartronic gearbox and two trim options; Momentum and R-Design, both of which were at the launch.

Right from the off, the D4 with its 140kW/400Nm shined. I think it makes more practical sense for day-to-day ownership and it has an impressive torque figure, as well as fuel consumption at a claimed 5.5-litres/100km.

The T5 on the other hand delivers 185kW/350Nm, but add in the R-Design paraphernalia, and you have one good looking, yet seriously quick SUV that will satisfy those wanting some poke. Both cars also feature an Off-Road driving mode and have a noteworthy ground clearance of 211mm.

Pilot Assist

A feature I was extremely grateful for, mostly because of Spain driving on the other side, is the Pilot Assist system. It helps to keep the car within the lanes and even turns the wheel as the road meanders. It maintains a safe following distance and warns if cars are located in your blind spot.

It is a first for this segment and one which is most definitely beneficial. Volvo’s City Safe system has also been revised, mostly by braking when a car is detected while you are reversing.

Final thoughts

After two days driving it, I can say that the XC40 is indeed the Volvo that we South Africans have been waiting for. It’s a compact SUV with some off-road ability. It’s practical, good looking and offers a full range of safety features.

The competition within the segment is well established but Volvo is offering a well specified model as standard. Price is unconfirmed but Volvo South Africa has hinted at a starting price  of under R500 000, before topping-out towards the mid-R600 000 mark.

Article written by Justin Jacobs
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