Volvo’s xc40 was launched in 2018 & went straight to the top as one our Cars of the Year for 2019. As a fleet publication, we love the diesel variants which offer comfortable driving, with excellent fuel economy. Volvo also offers a petrol range & a plug-in petrol hybrid version, which is a brilliant choice if you can plug in every day.
The range has been updated for 2019 with extra standard equipment & improved safety features. It’s already the brand’s second biggest seller behind the XC60, so the update’s should only cement the strength of the XC40 here in the UK.
Volvo loaned us the new range topping T5 petrol version, that features a sprinkling of Polestar fairy dust, a turbo that develops 247 bhp with 258 lb ft of torque, which gives this SUV a 0 – 62mph of 6.5 seconds.
Basically, when you select your drive mode; Comfort, Eco, Individual or Dynamic, Dynamic has been replaced by Polestar Engineered, which is an optional upgrade available for AWD versions of the XC40, as well as the S60, S90 V60 & V90.
The change, which is a £745 option, is actually software tweak that overwrites the car’s Dynamic driving mode. It simply increases the amount of torque sent to the rear wheels to create a sportier, rear-driven feel. You’ll also notice that throttle response is sharper with the 8-speed automatic gearbox upshifting later.
The £745 option can be fitted by a dealer post-purchase & retains the car’s original warranty. It was fitted to our test car along with the improved Intellisafe Pro pack, which adds steering assistance to its blind spot detection system for the first time, letting the car swerve if it drifts into the path of a potential collision.
Every XC40 comes very well equipped with amongst others, a 9″ centre console touch screen, Volvo On Call with app, Sensus Navigation, a voice-activated control system, Sensus Connect, City Safety, which includes pedestrian, cyclist & large animal detection, front collision warning with fully automatic emergency braking, Oncoming Lane Mitigation, Run-off Road Protection, LED headlights with active high beam, two-zone climate control with CleanZone air-quality system, rear parking sensors, hill-start assist, cruise control with speed limiter & a 12.3″ active TFT crystal driver’s information display.
We were testing the XC40 T5 AWD R-Design Pro Auto, which is available from £38,485. Our model though featured a long list of extras;
Sensus Connect with Premium Sound by Harman Kardon £550
Smartphone Integration (includes Apple CarPlayTM and Android AutoTM) with 2 x USB Hub £300
Wireless/Inductive Mobile Phone Charging £175
Active Four-C Chassis – Four Corner Adaptive Dampers £750
Polestar Performance Software Optimisation £745
Rear Park Assist Camera £375
Front Park Assist £325
Lava Orange Carpet (Floor, Door Panel Inserts, Tunnel Side Panel and Mats) £175
Tempa Spare Wheel and Jack £150
Premium Metallic Paint £850
Taking the total cost up to £42,880 which is Range Rover Evoque country. Ouch !
The infotainment screen & Volvo Sensus system are carried over from the larger XC’s, the air vents are narrower & sharper looking than those found on it’s larger siblings & the cabin itself comes with a plethora of clever touches that make this a truly practical family car.
Cavernous door pockets aided by placing the speakers on the dash rather than on the doors, a folding hook integrated into the glove box to hang your take away on, a removable compartment between the front seats that doubles as a bin & is large enough to fit a tissue box into, as well as the option of a wireless phone charger at the base of the centre console, all show that Volvo has been thinking about what customers want in their small Crossover.Front seat passengers have great space & legroom in the rear is good too. The Lava Orange interior fitted to our test car, divided our family. Me for, everyone else against. To be fair, it really shows the dirt so I’d forget this extra & go with black or grey which would hide the Winter muck.
For those who require a practical boot, the 460-litre’s in the XC40 is not class leading. However, it does comes with a useful flat floor & the bonus of having no lip at the front edge, making loading & unloading easier. There’s also useful extra space underneath the flat floor as well.
Out & about & in Eco or Comfort modes, the T5 is as enjoyable to drive as any other XC40. Underneath though, the Polestar’s optimisations are rumbling under your right foot & with the XC40 only weighing in at 1650kg, when it’s engaged & you put your foot down, the fun really begins. It shifts & does so with a lovely grunt coming from the engine.
You’ll also notice the tightening of the suspension & the slightly tauter steering. In effect it’s like being injected with adrenaline & makes for incredibly enjoyable driving. The throttle reacts more quickly in Polestar configuration & adding a greater urgency making the car feel more responsive when overtaking on the motorway, with a smile-producing straight line shove that put’s some hot hatche’s to shame.
Driving more sensibly in Eco made, the T5 will sit happily in cruise control at motorway speeds & act like a demure, debutant around town. The exterior gives no clues whatsoever as to what lies beneath, something I am particularly fond of.
The only downside is fuel economy. Volvo claims a WLTP figure of 31- 34 mpg, with CO2 emissions of 166g/km. We averaged a disappointing 26.2mpg, which was a figure gathered in a week driving alone, on mostly the motorway. Add in a family of four & urban routes & this could actually drop to around 21-22mpg.
Although we loved the T5, as a sensible fleet publication, we wouldn’t want the fuel bill associated with it & would choose a 40mpg diesel version instead. If the cost of fuel is not a problem, then a bit like the Cupra Ateca, the XC40 T5, is a crazy-horse five door family SUV, that does everything a family want it to do, whilst simultaneously leaving a permanent grin on your face every time you get in it.