Volvo launches always happen in Sweden, the car maker’s home country. But not the XC40. This time, we’re in Milan, Italy. Why? It’s Milan Fashion Week, of course. 

Hakan Samuelsson, Volvo's boss, tells the collected media: “Milan is the centre of fashion lifestyle trends. It is absolutely the right spot to launch this fantastic new car.”

Volvo XC40 review 

Design chief Robin Page continued: “When we first started sketching [this car], we want to look at new influences. Modern product design, architecture and fashion. Which is why we’re here [in Milan]. We wanted to create something very new and challenge how we normally design a car.”

Every car maker I know wants to be more ‘lifestyle’ these days, because that is what they think sells cars. And they’re probably right. I understand that when the main media vacates this reveal event later this afternoon, the pop-up venue will welcome a bunch of ‘influencers’, the generic term for people - often social media stars – who make people want to buy this car. I get it – I am definitely influenced by the people I follow on Instagram.

Still, the Milan Fashion Week link seems tenuous to me. Will fashion types really come to see the XC40 amid a load of fashion shows? 

It doesn’t matter, though, because whether the car looks ‘fashion’ or not, it’s easily the most attractive car in the segment.

It manages to look different to its siblings, the Volvo XC60 and Volvo XC90, and other rivals without looking ugly. There’s plenty of cases when ‘different’ means awkward lines or, even worse, the opposite: bland cars that all look the same.

The proportions on this car look spot-on, with neat overhangs, that well-known Volvo grille and the sweeping side line upwards towards the C-pillar that I’d expected to look rubbish but doesn’t. 

By comparison, I’ve always found the Range Rover Evoque lardy and the BMW X1 and Audi Q3 generic. The Jaguar E-Pace is a handsome new alternative, but this certainly has a Scandinavian design edge about it.