The Volvo XC40 is a comfortable and stylish small SUV that has some pleasing practical touches and a lot of Swedish cool

The Volvo XC40 is a strong contender in the market for small premium SUVs. It’s not a revelation on the road, but it strikes a decent blend of comfort and cruising refinement, and offers premium SUV appeal in a small-car package. This allows passengers to enjoy the funky, minimalist cabin and the excellent infotainment system.

Factor in competitive pricing when compared to rivals, as well as Volvo's traditional focus on safety, and you’re left with one of the most appealing offerings on the market. That's why we made the XC40 our Small Premium SUV of the Year in our 2018 New Car Awards.

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Volvo XC40 D3 FWD manual R-Design

Cars like the Volvo XC40 are helping the Swedish company go from strength to strength. While Volvo used to be seen as a safe and sensible brand, its ownership by Chinese firm Geely has given it a new lease of life. And if you're looking for a car that offers good practicality, an upmarket interior, as well as the usual safety benefits, then the XC40 could well be the model of choice.

In terms of size and price, the XC40 slots into the Volvo SUV range below the XC60 and XC90, and is offered in the same Momentum, R-Design and Inscription trims. There's a similar engine range, too, although there's no hybrid version on offer at the moment.

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Rivals for the Volvo XC40 include the BMW X1 and X2 duo, the Jaguar E-Pace, Audi Q2 and Q3 and MINI Countryman, while the Mercedes GLA and Infiniti QX30 aren't quite as high-riding and more hatchback-like in their appearance, but could still be considered as rivals.

Where the XC40 stands out is with its fresh looks. The chunky lines define it as an SUV, yet its compact dimensions mean it's no more manageable than a compact hatchback. Under the skin, the XC40 uses a new platform that will also be used for the next V40 hatchback.

Inside, the XC40 focuses on style, with a design-led interior that uses digital displays and quality materials to create an upmarket cabin which can be upgraded with a variety of individual options and upgrades.

Power comes from a range of three and four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines that use Volvo's traditional T and D naming system. The range kicks off with the 156hp T3 turbo three-cylinder, plus there are 190hp T4 and 247hp T5 four-cylinder turbo petrols. While the T3 is front-wheel drive with a six-speed manual gearbox, the T4 and T5 models use Volvo's AWD system and 8-speed Geartronic auto.

There are two diesel engines available, the 150hp D3 and 190hp D4, both of which are four-cylinder units. The D3 has a six-speed manual and front-wheel drive as standard, but can be upgraded with an 8-speed Geartronic auto, which also allows you to add Volvo's AWD system. The D4 is Geartronic AWD as standard.

The three trim levels - Momentum, R-Design and Inscription - offer lots of kit as standard, but they can all be upgraded to Pro spec for around £1,500. However, even the 'basic' Momentum is well catered for, although there's not much basic about an asking price of around £28,500. It comes with dual-zone climate control, 18-inch wheels, rear parking sensors, auto wipers, cruise control and digital instruments all included. Also on board is Volvo’s excellent nine-inch portrait-layout infotainment system. Momentum Pro adds luxuries such as a heated windscreen and front seats, adaptive headlights and auto-folding mirrors.

The XC40 majors on comfort and refinement instead of entertainment, but it makes a decent fist of delivering this
In the ballpark on fuel efficiency, with respectable CO2, but the real gains will come when plug-in hybrid and pure-electric versions arrive
Bags of Swedish cool, with a clean, uncluttered design that still manages to incorporate some lovely practical touches
A well-judged amount of cabin space and a some neat features to help maximise boot space make the XC40 more than practical enough
A new platform but some proven engines should help to keep it reliable. Bags of top-notch Volvo safety kit on board, too

R-Design is the sporty looking model of the range, and adds extra kit such as leather, diamond-cut alloys, gloss-black trim and tinted windows. Upgrade to R-Design Pro and heated front seats, adaptive headlights, bigger 20-inch alloys and an electrically adjustable driver’s seat are added.

Inscription is the plushest XC40, but is an upgrade over Momentum trim, rather than R-Design. It adds ambient lighting, a powered tailgate, metallic paint, front parking sensors and a matt-silver finish on the front and rear skid plates. Again, Pro adds more kit, including 19-inch wheels and LED front fog lights. Unlike some rivals, Volvo offers all engines in every trim level, giving buyers plenty of choice.

Last updated: 
9 Nov, 2018