To many, Volvos are well-conceived fit-for-purpose cars that are also very safe. But there have been a few desirable and stylish examples, such as the P1800, 480 ES and C30 Coupé, that have bucked this stereotype, albeit at the expense of practicality. However, the current Volvo XC40 is a very good-looking SUV that manages to satisfy both criteria, and a used one can be yours for a decent discount compared with new prices.
There has been a shift towards electrification with the XC40, but we’re going to focus on the regular petrol and diesel engines because that’s what you’re most likely to find. Petrols consist of a 2.0-litre in 154bhp T3, 187bhp T4 and 244bhp T5 forms. A downsized three-cylinder 1.5 arrived in 2018 as a direct replacement for the existing 2.0 T3 (upgraded in 2019 to 161bhp).
There are also 2.0-litre diesels (no longer on sale new): a 148bhp D3 and 187bhp D4. A rubbery-feeling six-speed manual came as standard on T3 and D3, but the optional eight-speed automatic is the better choice and is also standard issue on the D4, T4 and T5.
Trims start with Momentum, which has cruise control, dualzone climate control, a 9.0in tablet touchscreen, 18in alloy wheels, LED headlights and rear parking sensors. Next up is the sportier R-Design, with firmer suspension, seats trimmed with nubuck, power-folding door mirrors, privacy glass and ambient interior lighting. The more luxurious Inscription tops the range and has an electrically adjustable driver’s seat, front parking sensors, an electric tailgate, wood trim inlays and a crystal gear selector on auto versions.
Trims with ‘Pro’ at the end of the name add adaptive LED headlights, heated front seats, an electrically adjustable passenger seat and 19in or 20in alloy wheels.
On the road, the XC40 is a smooth and hushed performer, and most engines provide more than enough oomph. Fling it through a series of bends and the XC40 reveals itself as competent, although not inspiring, and it generally remains composed over road ripples.