Volvo XC40: A bigger hit than Abba?
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Volvo New Zealand expects Kiwi customers to follow that other famous Swedish hit maker, Abba, and say, “I do, I do, I do, I do, I do ...” want the all-new XC40 compact SUV.
Volvo will want new conquests to the brand to “ring, ring, why don’t you give me a call” to try the three variants of the SUV — which went on sale this month — that will be a chart topper for them.
The XC40 joins a burgeoning array of premium compact SUVs, such as the recently launched BMW X2 and Jaguar’s E-Pace, plus Audi’s Q2 and Q3, the Mercedes-Benz GLA and Range Rover’s Evoque, with a new version of this expected to be revealed at this year’s Paris motor show.
The XC40 joins the XC60 and XC90 in New Zealand with Volvo New Zealand hoping the baby of the family will push total sales to 700 this year, depending on supply.
The XC40 is original from the wheels up, and sits on Volvo’s all-new Compact Modular Architecture (CMA), which it shares with its parent company Geely, and will be the base of future products for the brand.
It’s a smaller version of the Scalable Product Architecture currently used for the XC60.
There are three models available, starting at $59,900 for the entry-level front-wheel-drive Momentum that sits on 18in alloys and is front-wheel-drive.
The Inscription is $67,900 with all-wheel-drive and has 19in alloys. The Momentum and Inscription have Volvo’s T4 petrol engine, a 2-litre turbocharged unit producing 140kW of power at 4700rpm and 300Nm of torque between 1400-4000rpm.
Volvo NZ sees the entry level Momentum as the pick for Kiwi customers.
Top spec is the all-wheel-drive R-Design at $72,900 with 20in alloys and the same 2-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine as the XC60, producing 182kW of power and 350Nm of torque with combined fuel economy of 7.1-l/100km. All three are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
At 4425mm long, 1652mm high and 1863mm wide the XC40 is nearly as tall as the XC60 with a wide stance due to the rear track wider than the front, giving it a dominant look on the road.
It continues the brand’s Nordic inspiration with “Thor’s hammer” LED front lights, plus Volvo’s DNA of clamshell bonnet, large wheel arches and lower body mouldings to create the SUV looks, plus rear skid plates.
The side and rear give this a more youthful appeal than the XC60, with grooves along the doors and a window line that kicks up along the large C-pillar.
The cabin also brings a new dynamic to Volvo with a clever array of storage compartments — the most functional in its class.
The door storage spaces are big enough for laptops or large water bottles, and there is a removable waste bin in the centre console. Rear passengers have storage spots on their seats near the door.
The boot cover folds in half so you can store large shopping bags behind the rear seats, or via hooks on the folded floor (pictured p9). Say goodbye to your shopping rolling around.
I took the XC40 to the supermarket for my weekly family shop and was impressed with the folding boot cover.
The boot can hold 432-litres or 1308l with rear seats folded. In this segment, the Q3 has 420l (or 1325l seats down) while BMW X1 has 505l and 1550l.
Passengers’ interior space is substantial with head and leg room good in the back. You’ll get two adults and a child across the rear seats but three adults might be tight as that middle seat is narrow.
The XC40 gets the 12in driver information display plus the 9in portrait-shaped touchscreen infotainment display, and below it is inductive charging for
phones. But Volvo is famous for its safety features with a vision that, by 2020, no one will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car. To that end, the standard safety features are impressive; blind spot monitoring, collision warning, cross traffic alert with autobrake, lane keep assist, road sign information, cruise control and a whiplash protection system.
But the City Safety function — that detects vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, or a large animal — can be too sensitive in “general” setting. In some suburban streets that are wide or don’t have road markings, if the system sees a parked car in its wide line of vision, it thinks you’re going to hit it so applies the brakes, tightens your seatbelt and lets out audible warning.
The result is alarming. “Calm down,” I’d yell, as I waited for my heart to return to normal rate.
Volvo NZ says you can make this less sensitive by changing the setting of the City Safety warning so it is earlier, normal or later — but no, you can’t turn it off.
I had a Launch Edition R-Design, priced at $78,900, for a week, with body paint in crystal white, black pillars and a panoramic roof, plus the provocative orange interior on the floor, sides of the centre console, and the door panels.
Actually called “Lava interior highlights”, the material is 100 per cent polyester fibre made from recycled plastic bottles.
Kudos to Volvo for the green initiative but the fabric was polarising; I liked it but thought it would wear quickly, while a group of primary schoolkids who walked passed our photo shoot weren’t impressed with the colour or texture.
The Launch Edition includes such extras as 360-degree parking camera, adaptive cruise control, pilot assist, park assist pilot, the explosive Harman Kardon sound system, heated front seats and tinted windows.
There is a bit of a blind spot out the back caused by the large C-pillar and when the head rests are up but the 360 camera (which creates a bird’s-eye view) makes parking easy.
On the road, the car handles well and feels flexible and agile. The steering is sharp and accurate and it has a great turning circle. Sure, the XC40 could be classed as a city car but it also comes into its own on more challenging roads.
On the motorway I’d shift out of comfort mode and into dynamic where the result befits the name. The steering firms up, the gears are held longer and the exhaust system comes alive. It excelled at overtaking on the motorway— and, on the winding Scenic Drive route from Swanson to Titirangi,
I used the steering wheel-mounted gears to slow through corners or power out of a bend.
Despite the XC40’s height there was little in the way of body roll which was reassuring at speed.
The car is well-composed even on poorer road surfaces. I even had to engage off-road mode heading into Titirangi village where the rutted road surface was demanding.
Volvo NZ would be well placed to use an Abba hit in its advertising campaign against its competition — when it comes to the XC40 the winner takes it all.
Volvo XC40 launch edition R-design
2-litre, Four-cylinder (182KW/350NM) AWD
Pros: Dynamic look
Cons: Blind spot caused by head rests