What is it?
According to Volvo, this T4-engined XC40 is set to be the best-selling version of its funky compact SUV.
Waning consumer interest in vehicles fuelled from the black pump at the service station means that their petrol-powered range-mates are commanding an ever increasing share of the sales mix - to the point where the T4 and recently-introduced T3, which we recently drove on UK roads, are expected to account for 50% of all XC40 sales.
Where that entry-level three-cylinder T3 model is available exclusively with a combination of front-wheel-drive and six-speed manual transmission - for now, at least - the four-pot T4 comes as standard with an eight-speed auto 'box that sends drive to the wheels at both axles. In this iteration, the XC40’s all-aluminium Drive-E engine displaces 1969cc, and develops a modest 188bhp and 221lb ft of torque.
Our test vehicle was an entry-level Momentum model, which is priced from £32,070. Suspension is comprised of a MacPherson strut arrangement at the front axle, with a multi-link arrangement with coil springs at the rear. However, being a base model it goes without the stiffer spring rates, thicker anti-roll bars and monotube rear shock absorbers that work so well on pricier R-Design models.
What's it like?
Despite its entry-level positioning, you still get the sense that an effort has been made to make the Momentum-grade XC40 feel like it belongs towards the premium end of the compact SUV segment.
Volvo’s large, 9.0in portrait-oriented Sensus touchscreen dominates the centre of the dash, flanked by stylised air vents; while a patterned dashboard graphic injects a dash of flair into a cabin where dark soft-touch plastics have been used fairly liberally. The overall effect is a cabin that perhaps isn’t as quite as plush as those of the larger members of Volvo’s XC-family SUVs, but one that’s still certainly in keeping with the XC40’s more debonair image.
Ergonomics are spot on too, with plenty of adjustability both the driver’s seat and steering column making it easy to get comfortable behind the wheel. Space in the back, meanwhile, is decent but not particularly outstanding. The rear seats are rather small for adult-sized passengers, although leg- and headroom are reasonable. Just be warned that opting for the £1,000 panoramic sunroof will compromise this somewhat.
That new T4 engine suits the XC40 well, too. It’s reasonably hushed on start-up and at idle, and remains unintrusive at cruising speeds. A practicably wide torque spread (1400rpm to 4000rpm) means there isn’t a huge need to work the engine hard to make progress either - it’ll pull willingly enough from about 1500rpm, though does so with more conviction from above 2100rpm. And while it’s reasonably happy to be revved out, it does start to run out of puff from above 5000rpm.