Most compact SUVs tend to adopt a Russian doll approach to design and styling compared with larger models in their makers’ ranges, but Volvo has liberated the XC40 from the more sensible, formal design of the bigger XC60 and XC90. It’s a great deal funkier, chunkier, more outgoing and striking; perhaps the biggest diversion from Volvo normality since the 480 coupé – and certainly since the C30.
Beneath that skin sits a new Volvo vehicle platform, CMA (Compact Modular Architecture), which will also underpin every smaller Volvo from now on. There’ll be S40 and V40 models, and perhaps cars smaller than those, too.
As with the platform for Volvo’s bigger cars, CMA is a primarily steel monocoque, with a front-mounted transverse engine driving either the front wheels or, as tested, all four of ’em, and here through an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
Later on, you can expect the range to grow to encompass more engines, transmissions and electrification mated to a three-cylinder petrol engine, but for now, there is a range of 2.0-litre four-pot motors. Our test car’s makes 188bhp at 4000rpm and its torque output is a healthy 295lb ft, generated from just 1750rpm.