New Volvo XC40 - exterior
The very Swedish Volvo XC40 midsize SUV has an excellent blend of style, performance and practicality. And it goes without saying it’s one of the safety vehicles on our roads.

A new model, the XC40 Inscription was recently added to the range. A midrange variant, it features a powered front passenger seat, leather-trim, ambient interior lighting and a powered tailgate.

A fascinating insight; by far the most commented-on feature of the XC40 Inscription we have been driving is the Orrefors Crystal gear selector. A great collaboration between the two upmarket Swedish products.

The XC40 is slightly larger than others in its class, at 4425mm long, 1863mm wide and 1652mm high and every centimetre of the interior space is put to good use. It has seating for five though, but four adults and a child makes more sense.

These days Volvo is one of world’s automotive style leaders and in our opinion the XC40 is the best shape from the Swedes yet. With a chunky, almost cheeky, look it has an upright slightly-concave grille, deeply sculpted lower sections of the doors and upward swept D-pillars.

We love the fact that the Volvo XC40 can be bought in two-tone paint. Check the Volvo Oz website for details of the mixing and matching offered.

New Volvo XC40 - exterior

The Scandinavian theme is simple almost to the point of being minimalistic in the dashboard area.

There is lots of storage space in the door pockets as Volvo avoided taking up space in this area with audio speakers.

There’s also out-of-sight stowage in drawers underneath the front seats.

A removable rubbish bin sits under the centre armrest. Does that sound like a silly idea? Wait till you use it when you get back home and you lift out the bin and take it to your regular waste bin.

The cargo compartment has a volume of 460 litres when all seats are in use and 1336 litres when the rear seats are folded fully flat.

The rearmost section of the book floor can be folded up to provide added crash protection by stopping luggage from moving forward. This folding section has built-in hooks that stop your shopping bags sliding about.

Our test car had a four-cylinder 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine with 140 kW of power, and 300Nm of torque from a nicely low 1400 all the way to 4000 revs. So you can have peak torque virtually all the time in normal driving around town as well as in the country.

New Volvo XC40 Inscription - interior detail

All-wheel-drive by way of an eight-speed automatic is used in the XC40 T4 Inscription, a front-wheel drive model is offered in the lower cost Momentum variant.

We really like the portrait shape of the infotainment 9-inch inch screen. This makes so much more sense than the skinny horizontal units that are all the rage at the moment, because you can see much further ahead on the sat nav map.

Volvo Cars’ driver infotainment system (Sensus) provides smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

There are three USB connections as well as induction phone charging.

We certainly enjoyed the clarity of the Harman Kardon Premium Sound system.

The company’s approach to safety has never faltered. Here’s a list of safety features as provided to us by Volvo Australia:

City Safety: Pedestrian, Vehicle, Large Animals and Cyclist Detection, Intersection Collision and Oncoming Mitigation with Brake Support; Steering Support; Intellisafe Assist: Driver Alert; Lane Keeping Aid; Adjustable Speed Limiter function; Oncoming Lane Mitigation; Intellisafe Surround: Blind Spot Information (BLIS) with Cross Traffic Alert (CTA), Front and Rear Collision Warning with mitigation support; Run-off road Mitigation; Hill start assist; Hill Descent Control; Park Assist Front and Rear; Rear Parking Camera; Rain Sensor; Drive mode with personal power steering settings; Emergency Brake Assist (EBA); Emergency Brake Light (EBL); Frontal Airbags, Side Impact Protection System (SIPS) with airbags in front seats, Inflatable Curtains and Whiplash Protection System; Driver’s knee airbag; Belt Reminder all seats; IsoFix outer position rear seat; Intelligent Driver Information System (IDIS)

So there you are! If you get into major strife you, or someone else, has made a big mistake.

Volvo’s new Clean Zone two-zone climate system removes harmful pollutants and particles from outside the cabin to deliver what Volvo calls, “Scandinavian-fresh air on the inside”. Note that we have included this in the Safety segment of this review, rather than the Interior segment.

The 360-degree camera system in our test car provided an overhead view of the Volvo and its surrounds – it’s almost as though a small drone with a camera is hovering over you.

Part of our drive program saw us taking a holiday trip, north from our place on the Gold Coast to the Gympie, Amamoor area. This can be done as a weekend trip but we chose to spend five days away to really relax.

The front seats are large and comfortable. Even in the rear I was able to sit ‘behind myself’ (I’m 180cm tall) with room to spare.

Selecting gears is simple – you move the lever with a double-tap to Drive or Reverse – just like the double-tap on your electronic devices.

Turbo lag is minimal and the four-cylinder engine is smooth in operation. There’s some noise under hard acceleration but it’s all but inaudible when cruising. The automatic transmission was almost invariably in the correct gear and it works well with the engine.

Fuel use during our testing was in the nine to eleven litres per 100 km range around town, dropping to six to seven litres on motorway and easy paced country driving. These are very good numbers for a solidly built SUV that was loaded for our country trip.

Handling is excellent, with steering that almost seems to read your mind.

Rough roads didn’t faze the XC40 but some surfaces created more tyre noise than we anticipated, particularly Australia’s notorious course chip that has been recently laid. The famously noisy concrete on the M1 between the Gold Coast and Brisbane was tamed rather well.

Swedish, stylish, sensible, solid and spacious; the S words explain why the Volvo XC40 has been such a sales success in Australia and in many other countries.


XC40 T4 Momentum: $46,990
XC40 T4 Inscription: $51,990
XC40 T5 R-Design: $56,990
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Volvo dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Volvo XC40 2.0-litre turbo-petrol five-door wagon)

Capacity: 1.969 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 140 kW @ 4700 rpm
Maximum Torque: 300 Nm @ 1400 rpm
Fuel Type: Premium unleaded
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 7.4 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 165 g/km

DRIVELINE: Eight-speed automatic

Length: 4425 mm
Wheelbase: 2702 mm
Width: 1910 mm
Height: 1652 mm
Turning Circle: 11.4 metres
Kerb Mass: 1631 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: litres

Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Ventilated disc

Three years / unlimited kilometres

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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