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.

Volvo has just revised its XC40 range and added a new model called Inscription. Sitting midway between the existing Momentum and the sporty R-Design the Inscription features a powered front passenger seat, leather-trim, ambient interior lighting and a powered tailgate. It is the subject of this review.

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, as is often the way, four adults plus a child is a more realistic load.

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.

To the surprise of just about everyone, Volvo has become one of world’s automotive style leaders. We reckon the XC40 is the best shape from the Swedes yet, from its upright slightly-concave grille, through the deeply sculpted lower sections of the doors and onto the upward swept D-pillars it all works beautifully to our eyes.

New Volvo XC40 - exterior

As a throwback to times past when cars were seen as fashion statements, this Volvo can be bought in two-tone paint. Interestingly, some other car makers are starting to move in a similar direction – long may this last.

Inside, the Scandinavian theme is simple almost to the point of being minimalistic in the dashboard area and there’s a real feel that you are travelling in an upmarket product.

We really like the portrait shape of the central screen, more about it in the Infotainment section.

Coloured carpets and inserts in the doors are neat details. In a sign of the future they are made mainly from recycled plastic.

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 meaning that most drivers will have peak torque under their feet virtually all the time.

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

A smaller capacity, 1.5-litre, three-cylinder turbo-petrol is to be added to the XC40 lineup later in the year. Presumably at a lower price and probably with front-wheel drive, though Volvo Australia is keeping marketing details close to its corporate chest.

Volvo is working hard at electrification in its vehicles so there could be news on this front not too far away. Stay tuned.


The turbo-diesel previously offered in the XC40 is no longer being imported as diesels aren’t proving popular in the compact SUV in Australia.

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 as you can see much further ahead on the Volvo’s satellite navigation.

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

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

Volvo has been synonymous with safety for decades, way back to the time when it designed the three-point seat belt 60 years ago.

The company’s approach to safety has never faltered. To the extent that Volvo says that no-one will die or be seriously injured in a new Volvo from the year 2020 onwards. Frankly, I find this an impossible ideal, but will be delighted to be proven wrong. And 2020 is only a matter of months away…

Safety and driver assistance features offered on the XC40 include Volvo’s semi-autonomous Pilot Assist system; the latest generation of City Safety; Run-off Road protection and mitigation; Cross Traffic Alert with automatic braking.

Even tiny carpark bump can be minimised as a 360-degree camera system helps drivers manoeuvre their Volvo into tight parking spaces. Front and rear sensors add to the package.

The seats are large and comfortable in the front. Even in the rear I was able to sit ‘behind myself’ with room to spare, something that’s not common in this class.

There is lots of storage space in the door pockets as Volvo deliberately avoided taking up space in this area with audio speakers. There’s also out-of-sight stowage in drawers underneath the front seats.

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.

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”. Love it…

In a very Swedish manner selecting gears is simple. You move the lever in the desired direction twice – no buttons to push, or torturous wiggling through a complex gate.

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 was in the nine to eleven litres per hundred kilometres range around town, dropping to six to seven litres on motorway and easy paced country driving.

Comfort is impressive and long country trips are done in a most relaxing manner.

Handling is excellent, with steering that almost seems to read your mind. Corners can be attacked with verve if that’s your thing, but keep in mind it’s a family SUV not a sports model.

Rough roads didn’t faze the XC40 but some surfaces created more tyre noise than we anticipated, particularly Australia’s notorious course chip.

The Volvo XC40 SUV Inscription is beautifully fresh example of Scandinavian styling and engineering and a pleasure to live with.


Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Volvo dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Volvo XC40 Inscription 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: 54 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.
Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *