Caroline and the new Volvo XC40
Caroline and the new Volvo XC40

Caroline drives the new Volvo XC40.

For many years, Volvo has been known as the maker of some fine family cars, particularly estate cars. But the brand has reinvented itself for a new era of the family vehicle – that of the SUV. In a relatively short space of time, Volvo has become a very fine maker of SUVs. After the success of the XC90 and the XC60, it’s now the turn of the new Volvo XC40.

The Volvo XC40 is the baby of the Volvo SUV family, a compact premium SUV with pricing starting from €36,450 in Ireland. The Volvo XC40 certainly holds some promise as it’s already been voted European Car of the Year 2018. It’s also the first model on Volvo Cars’ new modular vehicle architecture (CMA), which will underpin all other upcoming cars in the 40 Series, including fully electrified vehicles.

It’s clear that Volvo has taken due care to create an entry level SUV that is desirable not just because it’s a Volvo, but because it’s the kind of vehicle you instantly feel at home in.

On the outside the Volvo XC40 has a confident presence not compromised by the constraints of being a compact vehicle. In fact the XC40 is probably the most distinct of the trio of Volvo SUVS – XC40, XC60 and XC90 – with plenty of visual chutzpah.

The new Volvo XC40
The new Volvo XC40 has plenty of visual chutzpah

What’s it like inside the new Volvo XC40?

The interior of the Volvo XC40 manages to capture much of the style and quality of the larger Volvo SUVs, rather than feeling like a cheaper product whipped up for profit margins. Everything you can feel and see regularly like the steering wheel, dials, centre console and door panels all look and feel good, though you will find cheaper plastics in the lower extremities. But generally there is a decent feeling of plushness inside to justify the pricing. The infotainment system with 9″ touchscreen is a particular highlight in its glossy casing with logical layout.

Like a lot of rivals the price for the new Volvo XC40 can get steep quickly but here’s the general price tiering for the XC40 trim range in Ireland: XC40 (from €36,450), Momentum (from €38,900), Inscription (from €42,900) and R-Design (from €47,394).

Standard equipment includes 17” alloys, LED headlights, rear parking camera and sensors, digital instrument panel, cruise control, climate control, City Safety (includes Pedestrian & Cyclist Detection & Front Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake), traffic sign recognition, Driver Alert Control with Lane Keeping Aid, 9” touchscreen and heated front seats.

There are a number of engines available for the new Volvo XC40. In terms of diesel there’s the D3 (150hp) and D4 (190hp). Petrol options include the T3 (156hp), T4 (190hp) and T5 (247hp). All wheel drive is standard on some models like D4 and T5, while the entry T3 model is a front wheel drive manual. Automatic gearboxes are also available.

The interior of the new Volvo XC40
The interior of the new Volvo XC40 is comfortable and plush

The Volvo XC40 is stylish and practical

D4 AWD models with 190hp start from €47,450, while my D4 AWD R-Design test car starts from €51,183. The model tested had a number of options and came in at over €60,000. Expensive indeed but there is value to be had in the range. The R-Design models do look particularly good with 18” alloys, dual exhaust pipes, glossy black window surround, gloss black mesh front grille and gloss black door mirrors. Inside there are contour sports seats with part leather upholstery, black headlining, perforated leather steering wheel, sports pedals and rear privacy glass.

The Volvo XC40 will seat five and is nicely sized for this class of vehicle with some decent head and legroom in the back for a compact SUV. The 432 litre boot is also competitive for the segment, if not huge.

On the road the Volvo XC40 truly impresses for comfort. The XC40 is beautifully softly sprung and though it’s not set up for the sportiest steering feel, the steering is fluid and controlled. The car slips in and out of corners with ease, hugging the road well despite the higher ride height when compared to a hatchback. There are a number of driving modes and the sportiest setting adds weight to the steering while adding a more urgent throttle response.

The D4 diesel is a 2.0-litre unit with 190bhp. It has plenty of power and the overall refinement of the engine is good. Combined with the automatic gearbox, this is a silky smooth mover.

All in all, the Volvo XC40 is an excellent compact premium SUV. It doesn’t come cheap but it gives its occupants the premium ‘hug’ while offering the sort of style and practicality so important in this segment.

The new Volvo XC40
The new Volvo XC40 is a stylish and practical compact SUV

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Volvo XC40 D4 AWD R-Design Automatic
€51,183 (Available from €36,450)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
Torque: 400Nm
7.9 seconds
Top speed: 210km/h
Claimed Economy: 
CO2 emissions:  
Motor tax: 
€280 per year