Behind every modern-day vehicle, is a team of (usually) very creatively minded, sustainably inclined industrial designers. But by the time managers, engineers and bean counters have all had a bite of the cherry, you’re usually left with the compromised left overs. In the case of the Volvo XC40, this isn’t the case, and I drove the Scandinavian surprise down in the Barossa Valley to prove it.
From my first glance of the SUV at Adelaide airport, I knew this car had well considered features. Whether it was the sculpted doors, contrasting panels or even the small Swedish flag cheekily poking out the side of the bonnet, you could tell the industrial design team have pulled this car from pillar to post. At 4.4m long and 1.8m wide the XC40 carries a very practical urban footprint and an even more practical model selection. There are, quite simply, two versions of the XC40; Momentum and R-Design. As you would expect, the R-Design packs a few sportier features such as larger alloys and a sports steering wheel, but in all honestly, I thought the look and spec of the Momentum was spot on.
Exploring the interior of the XC40 revealed yet more considered character. If intuitive design and smart storage is your thing, then the XC40 delivers in bag loads. Charging pads for your smart phone… under seat laptop space… adaptable bag hooks in the boot… from a functional storage perspective, this has to be one of the best interiors I’ve used. It’s not the sort of car that has 16 cup holders, or gimmick bins in every nook, but rather a very pragmatic and minimalist approach to the sort of things that are often neglected. Simply having the ability to put a few grocery bags in the back of your car without them creating a boot stir-fry, for example, will be a simple but welcome feature for most people. Even the carpets are made from recycled plastic bottles, and is the first step in Volvo’s plan for more sustainable car manufacturing. The rear seats felt the love from the design team as well, with generous leg and head room for my fellow tall people. Functionality aside, the entire cabin is tastefully presented in quality materials, Harmon Kardon audio and intuitive technology, and not surprisingly, is a great place to be.
In terms of engines, you have the common SUV dilemma of petrol vs diesel. The petrol comes in the form of the ‘ T5 ‘ which delivers 185 kW and 350Nm of torque. The diesel driven ‘ D4 ‘ offers 140kW and 400Nm of torque. My XC40 was fitted with the petrol and had a nice sense of poke for a turbo 4 pot. Piloting the Volvo felt extremely light and was one of the easiest SUV’s I’ve driven around a city. Once you were out and about, steering feel wasn’t great, but to be honest, I never really anticipated it to be. The XC40 is the sort of car that you slip in to comfort and just enjoy the drive. As you’d expect, the safety features of the Volvo are longer than this article but reassuring all the same and when it comes time to tucking away the SUV, the 360° parking assist does a pretty neat job.
I hope Volvo Australia has the supply to what’s going to be their greatest demand. The XC40 looks great, has intuitive features and arguably one of the nicest interiors in its class. It’s not trying too hard, or pretending to be something it’s not, Volvo have got the recipe just right. As weird as it is to say, it feels as though the XC40 is what a compact SUV should be in 2018. Every detail is carefully considered and thoughtfully executed. It looks and feels as though the Industrial designers had the last laugh, and it’s proof is in it’s pudding.