The XC40 is Volvo’s first ever compact SUV and is beautifully styled with a wealth of cutting edge on-board technology to explore. Available in a choice of generously-equipped trim levels, customers can also choose from the punchy Volvo-engineered petrol or diesel powertrains.

The good

Styling, technology, practicality, performance and dynamics

The bad

Battling for sales against premium marques

Tech Specs

Price from
Combined Fuel up to
0-62 from
6.5 seconds
max speed up to
co2 from

Test Drive

Volvo XC40 D3 AWD Inscription Pro

It has been described as the youthful cousin to the XC60 but Volvo’s first ever compact SUV, the XC40, packs a mighty punch and could be the perfect answer for anyone looking for a stylish, practical car that’s economical to run, as safe as houses and delivers more desirable driving dynamics than full-sized people movers.

And if any further reassurances were necessary, the five-door XC40 has already scooped a whole host of awards since making its world debut back in September 2017. And after a week behind the wheel, it’s very clear to see just why it has been greeted with such high acclaim.

Firstly, it’s very easy on the eye boasting a bold, expressive exterior. It features a concave front grille housing the Volvo emblem, sculpted lower door sections, dark tinted windows, LED headlights with T-shaped daytime running lights and active high beam, distinctive tail lights, a rear skid plate, plus smart alloys. Our test car also had a powered glass sunroof as part of an optional Xenium Pack.

Move inside and the interior is equally impressive with the finest leather upholstery, a 12.3-inch driver information display, two-zone climate control and a striking nine-inch centre console touchscreen. This is where the Sensus Navigation with full European mapping is located, along with Sensus Connect which allows access to a range of apps.

In addition, there is a pitch perfect premium Harman Kardon 13-speaker sound system, a wireless charger, heated seats, a heated steering wheel and full smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Another feature fitted to all XC40 models is a built-in car modem that allows you, via a sim card with a data allowance, to turn the vehicle into a WiFi hotspot for up to eight devices.

Customers can choose from a selection of generously-equipped trim levels and our test car was supplied in range-topping Inscription Pro so it was kitted out with all the bells and whistles.

Priced at £36,320 (£43,145 with optional packs fitted), it was powered by a 2.0-litre 150hp diesel engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. It could sprint from 0-62mph in 10.4 seconds, topped out at 124mph, and according to official figures, delivered combined fuel economy of 52.3mpg with carbon emissions of 142g/km.

The XC40 is as content and accomplished being driven through busy town centres as it is out on the open road, where the acceleration through the gears is smooth and responsive.

There are different drive modes called Comfort, Eco, Dynamic, Off Road and Individual that adjust the responses of the engine, automatic gearbox, steering, brakes, all-wheel-drive system and the climate control.

On twisting country lanes, the XC40 was beautifully balanced and the AWD system offers added assurance and grip during adverse weather conditions.

Comfort levels are excellent and there is ample leg, head and elbow space for a couple of adults in the rear – add a third and it gets a little too cosy. On the practicality front, Volvo has been really clever with the room available and the boot has a generous capacity ranging from 460 to 1,336 litres with the split-folding rear seats dropped flat. There’s a decent-sized glovebox, deep door bins, a central cubby box and an extra pull-out tray under the driver’s seat.

As one would expect with a car carrying the Volvo badge, the XC40 is packed to bursting with all the latest safety features and driver aids to protect occupants and pedestrians alike, as well as helping to prevent accidents from occurring in the first place.

In addition to the more standard safety specifications, our car also boasted the likes of City Safety which includes pedestrian, cyclist and large animal detection, and front collision warning with fully automatic emergency braking, including at junctions. It featured Oncoming Lane Mitigation that will correct your steering if you accidently start to drift out of your lane into the path of oncoming motorists. And it had Run-off Road Protection which automatically tightens the front seatbelts should the car leave the road. These are just a few of the exceptional systems that resulted in the Volvo XC40 being awarded the maximum five stars when it was tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating.

All in all, the XC40 is a fabulous addition to the Swedish marque’s XC line-up. It may be the baby in the family, but it boasts a grown-up attitude and will make the ideal companion for any active family looking for a car that oozes class, efficiency, safety and all the latest technical gizmos.

Test Drive

Volvo XC40 – first drive (2018)

Mention the Volvo name and it wouldn’t instantly conjure up images of fun-packed driving experiences. After all, it doesn’t seem that many years ago that a Volvo was a safe and practical car that lacked true flair, but that was then and this is now and the striking all-new XC40 compact SUV is proof of that.

It’s the baby sibling in the Swedish company’s XC line-up sitting just below the mid-sized XC60 and fully blown seven-seater XC90 models, but it’s very grown up when it comes to style, technology and performance.

Powered exclusively by Volvo’s range of Drive-E engines there are two diesels and three petrol powertrains available and customers can also choose from three richly-equipped trim levels called Momentum, R-Design and Inscription. A limited run of 1,200 First Edition models have also been released although this grade, which is based on the R-Design with lots of added kit, has almost sold out. There’s also a choice of manual or automatic transmissions, along with front-wheel or all-wheel-drive.

Like its larger XC stablemates, the XC40, which is priced from £27,905, has a real presence on the road thanks to a number of stand-out design cues, such as a clamshell bonnet, concave grille and heavily sculpted doors. The T-shaped Thor lights have been modified slightly and there are skid plates, distinctive taillights, a hands-free power operated tailgate and a contrast-colour roof that is standard on Momentum models.

The interior is bright, upmarket and minimalist in its design with a wealth of on-board technology to explore, including the tablet-styled nine-inch Sensus touchscreen system which is used to access the many features including the sat nav. It uses the same swipe, pinch and zoom functionality as most smartphones. And on that subject, it’s quick and easy to connect a smartphone via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

If premium quality is a factor, then the pitch perfect Harman Kardan sound system will certainly make the grade. The speakers are no longer located in the doors and Volvo has developed the world’s first air ventilated dashboard-mounted subwoofer. It may sound a little trivial, but it has freed up extra space in the door pockets for a laptop, tablet and a water bottle.

Volvo has ensured the inside of the car oozes premium styling at every turn with beautifully designed leather upholstery, soft-touch surfaces, hand-finished drift-wood inlays and snazzy air vents with airflow dials that appear to float in the middle of the vents.

With practicality in mind, the XC40 can easily accommodate five adults and the boot is generously sized with a capacity ranging from 460 litres to 1,336 litres with the rear seats dropped flat. The boot has a flexible floor that allows you to separate luggage and there are handy hooks to keep shopping bags secure. There is additional storage available under the driver’s seat and even the glovebox features a fold-out hook to avoid take-away spills.

The powered tailgate can be opened and closed automatically by kicking your foot just under the first ‘O’ in the VOLVO name badge and it works really well. There have been many a time when I have tested this technology out on rival manufacturers’ cars to no avail and have received numerous strange glances from passers-by! I’m happy to say that won’t happen with the XC40.

The vehicle comes with various Drive Mode settings that alter the responses of the engine, gearbox, steering, brakes, all-wheel-drive and climate control accordingly. These are called Comfort, Eco, Dynamic, Off Road and Individual. And it wouldn’t be a Volvo if the XC40 wasn’t brimming over with state-of-the-art safety features such as the company’s clever Pilot Assist semi-autonomous drive technology which detects the lanes and vehicles in front of your car, then assists with the steering and braking up to 80mph.

Other safety systems include City Safety with pedestrian, cyclist and large animal detection, front collision warning with fully automatic emergency braking, oncoming lane mitigation and lots more besides.

We tested a couple of the limited-run First Edition XC40s powered by a diesel and petrol engine mated to eight-speed automatic gearboxes on a route that incorporated plenty of stop/start congested town centres, motorways and open country lanes – we weren’t disappointed.

First up was the T5 247PS petrol model with AWD costing £40,055. This car could reach 62mph from a standing start in 6.5 seconds, topped out at 140mph and, according to official figures, could deliver combined fuel economy of 39.2mpg with carbon emissions of 168g/km.

The First Edition version of the XC40 is fully loaded with everything Volvo could possibly throw at it, including a tilt and slide panoramic sunroof, heated seats front and rear, a heated steering wheel, wireless mobile phone charging, park assist and plenty more besides.

When it comes to performance, the XC40 is beautifully balanced, composed, refined and great fun to drive. The all-round visibility is excellent and there is ample power on tap from the punchy petrol engine. The acceleration is smooth and swift through the automatic gearbox and there are paddle shifts if you fancy taking over.

The road-holding is confident and assured with minimal body sway into bends. The highly effective suspension cushions the occupants against any unexpected bumps and dips, while the vehicle is well insulated against road surface, engine or wind noise.

Next up was the D4 190PS diesel version, again with AWD. This car was priced at £39,905 and could complete the 0-62mph sprint in 7.9 seconds, maxed out at 130mph and delivers combined fuel efficiency of 55.4mpg with CO2 emissions of 135g/km.

Once again, the XC40 was up to the challenge with beautifully assured handling. If you want to liven things up a little then switch across to dynamic driving mode and the XC40 gets edgier with sharper responses. The diesel-powered car was also refined with very little noise entering the cabin even when driven hard.

Volvo has announced that a plug-in hybrid version of the XC40 will be going on sale in Europe later this year and that a fully electric model will be introduced next year to complete the line-up.

The company has also announced a new subscription-styled scheme called Care by Volvo which takes PCP leasing a step further and includes expenses such as tax, insurance, roadside assistance and maintenance. It will cost £779 per month.

The XC40 has already been heaped with numerous accolades and awards, but if there was a prize for dramatic naming ideas then Volvo would top the bill with its colour scheme titles thanks to shades such as Osmium Grey, Luminous Sand, Fusion Red and my particular favourite Bursting Blue – whoever said the Swedes lacked imagination!

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