New Volvo XC40 Review – Mercedes GLA, BMW X1, Audi Q3 rival

Much awaited Volvo XC40 compact premium SUV will be launched in India this July. Ahead of that, we got a chance to drive the car in the city of Nizam’s – Hyderabad. After spending a good day with the car, driving in the city as well as on the highways, here is what we think of the all-new Volvo XC40.

Introduction

– Volvo Auto India is growing at a healthy rate of 30% in the country. In the year, they sold a little over 2,000 cars. This year, they plan on increasing their number by a big margin, all thanks to their two new SUVs, the XC60 – which is already launched, and the XC40, which will be launched real soon.

New Volvo XC40 will be a rival to Mercedes GLA, BMW X1 and Audi Q3. This segment currently amounts about 6,000 units saleas annually. How much of this Volvo manages to eat, depends on how their car is, and what price do they launch it at.

Exteriors

Winner of the 2018 European car of the year award, the 2018 Volvo XC40 adorns the Swedish flag proudly on its bonnet. Featuring a traditional boxy-SUV design, in the front you have a glossy black grille flanked by signature Thor shaped LED DRLs to complete the front look.

On its side, protruding wheel arches, and the boxy shape with dual tone finish, not only this gives the car a proper SUVish stance, but also that of a car that is fit for the modern world. The 18-inch alloys come as standard, and look very sporty as well. At the rear, you will find signature Volvo styling with floating roof spoiler, LED tail lamps and dual exhaust.

Speaking about dimensions, the new XC40 is the widest and tallest car in the segment. It is 1652 mm tall, 4425 mm long and 1863 mm wide. Only the BMW X1 is longer than the XC40 at 4439 mm, otherwise it beats the competition in all departments as far as dimensions are concerned. It also has the best in class ground clearance of 211 mm (unladen).

Interiors

On the inside, just like XC90 and XC60, the XC40 too is a feature rich and fully loaded car. Two interior options are on offer, all black and one with orange dual tone finish. This orange material has a velvety feel, and is made of recyclable items. Overall interior fit and finish, as well as the quality of materials is very premium.

The leather stiched steering wheel offers very good feedback. It is really light when the car is at a standstill, and weighs in perfectly, depending on your speed. Apart from featuring controls to audio, FM stations, cruise etc, the steering wheel also houses paddle shifters. It also gives you haptic feedback – we will talk about this in detail in the safety segment.

XC40 comes with best in class infotainment and music system. Both the displays on the dashboard are not only the largest seen in a car in this segment, but are also very easy to operate. The two large displays, one behind the steering wheel and the other on the dashboard, allows you to easily access all the functions of the car, at the touch of a button. There is a Harman Kardon music system with 13 speakers, offering very good music listening experience.

Rear seats come with best in class space for shoulder, head and leg. But the rear seat back rest is a little too upright for our liking. You also get rear ac vents and arm rest. The rear doors do not have pockets that could store average sized bottles. Which is why Volvo has designed a special place next to the rear seat passengers.

Similarly, there are many examples where the designers have made smart use of cabin space. There is also a dust bin inside the car, it is located under the driver seat. If you don’t want to use it as a dust bin, it is good enough to store your iPad or tablet.

Be it the boot, which has 460 liters of space, or the split rear seats; or the panoramic sunroof, automatic opening / closing of tailgate, everything has been designed keeping in mind customer convenience.

Driving Dynamics

Volvo XC40 is powered by a 2.0 liter diesel engine which delivers 190 hp and 400 Nm of torque. Transmission is via 8 speed Aisin automatic gearbox, mated to a 4th generation Haldex all wheel drive transmission. What this translates into is ample amount of power for you to explore the city, or cruise on the highway. And all that with one of the most fuel efficient engines in the business. Official mileage figures are not revealed.

Compared to other cars in the segment, the engine does not feel that powerful, especially during the initial pickup. But then Volvo says, their cars are not made to do 0-100 runs, instead their focus has always been to make sure the owners of Volvo cars feel refreshed after drive, and not tired.

But that does not mean their cars are not built for performance. The XC40 does a 0-100 kmph in under 20.5 seconds, and has a top speed of over 200 kmph. It also has equally impressive braking. 130 kmph to 0 kmph is done in 4.2 seconds.

For ease of driving, the new Volvo XC40 offers 5 drive modes – Eco, Comfort, Dynamic, Off-Road and Individual. It is the only car in the segment to offer drive modes. Steering feedback is impressive and so is the ride quality. Suspension is neither too soft nor too hard, it is good enough for Indian road conditions.

Safety Features

Top notch safety is a given for any Volvo car, be it their smallest and most affordable SUV. The XC40 gets 7 airbags, ABS, EBD, hill hold assist, etc. In addition to all this, it also gets first in class – radar based safety assist features. These include lane assist, automatic parking and unparking, automatic braking, automatic steering and adaptive cruise control.

The first autonomous feature we got to test was the lane assist feature. This radar is located just behind the rear view mirror, it scans the road ahead and assists you while driving.

What the lane assist feature does is, if you are not being attentive, or doze off while driving, it will make sure you stay in the driving lane. Once the system realizes that you are not being attentive and not holding the steering wheel, it will give you continuous warnings. If you still don’t hold the steering wheel, the car will gradually slow down, and come to a stop on the side of the road.

While driving, if you are trying to overtake by changing lane, and if there is a vehicle oncoming in the lane which you are trying to enter for overtaking, the steering will become a bit stiff and give you haptic feedback, thereby notifying you it is not safe to change lane currently. It will also do the same if you try changing lanes without giving turn indicators.

In adaptive cruise control, you can set the car’s system to follow the car in front you. You can set the distance between you and the car in front, and done. Now your XC40 will follow the car in front. If it accelerates, your XC40 will accelerate. If it brakes, your XC40 will brake. These features really prove helpful during long drives.

Verdict

Loaded with features unlike anything ever seen in this segment, the launch of XC40 will surely cause some amount of disturbance in the entry level premium compact SUV segment. To be offered only in a single variant (R-Design), the XC40 will be offered in a choice of three colours – Red, Blue and White. All with glossy black roof as standard. More colours and variants will be launched at a later date. Price is expected to be in the Rs 42-43 lakh range, ex-showroom.

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