The XC40’s more comfortable than plenty of small SUVs but the quickest top-spec petrol models aren’t all that frugal
The Volvo XC40 is available with a choice of two diesel and three petrol engines. Plus, you’ll also be able to pick between manual and automatic gearboxes and two or four-wheel drive.
The best option is the 150hp D3 diesel. Driven with care, it should return fuel economy of 50mpg. It’s a little noisy under acceleration, but at a cruise you’ll barely hear it ticking over and performance is more comparable to the petrol model than you might think. In fact, it’s good enough that the more expensive and less frugal D4 doesn’t seem worth it.
The XC40’s cabin’s like a sensory deprivation tank – utterly relaxing, although operating the optional automatic gearbox is as intuitive as using your computer’s mouse upside down
The T5 is still noticeably quicker, though, and is a little bit quieter as you move through the gears. That said, it’ll consume fuel nearly twice as quickly as the diesel, and that goes for the lesser T4 too.
In fact, if you do much of your driving in town and a petrol is attractive to you, don’t be put off by the entry-level three-cylinder T3 model. It’s the cheapest way into a Volvo XC40 but doesn’t lack the punch needed to haul about a family.
You can improve fuel economy slightly by going for the eight-speed automatic gearbox, rather than the six-speed manual, but its left-right operation is unintuitive to use and it’s also a little bit slow to respond when you want a burst of acceleration. Still, the baggy six-speed manual isn’t the best, either.
The Volvo XC40 is designed to be very comfortable so has none of the sporty aspirations of models such as the Audi Q2 or BMW X2.
That said, it doesn’t wobble like a blancmange in corners and the benefit of the softer setup is that the suspension absorbs bumps so well you could mistake it for an expensive air-sprung system rather than conventional springs.
Adding adaptive dampers gives you control of how stiff you’d like the suspension, how reactive you’d like the Volvo XC40’s throttle and gearbox and the weight of its steering, but in truth, in such a relaxed SUV it hardly seems worth adding.
Out on the motorway, Volvo’s Pilot Assist provides comfort of a different kind, relieving you of the monotonous concentration required for long motorway journeys.
Using a mixture of cameras and sensors, it accelerates, brakes and steers the car for you, all you need to do is set a speed and keep your hands on the steering wheel. It’ll even steer the car through long, sweeping corners without any assistance. Buy Pilot Assist and you also get a blind-spot warning system and rear collision mitigation that’ll help protect your passengers if someone runs into the back of you.
In town, the Volvo XC40’s standard automatic emergency braking can save you from low-speed front-end shunts and the raised driving position gives you a better view out the front of the car than you get in the lower Audi Q2. The only downside comes in the form of two large pillars at the back of the car that obscure your over-the-shoulder visibility.
They’re only a problem when you’re pulling out on the motorway though, because all Volvo XC40s come with reversing sensors that make parking a doddle.
If you really hate squeezing into tight spaces however, it’s worth paying for the – pricey – Xenium Pack that adds a 360-degree camera (it gives you a bird’s eye view of the car’s surroundings) and park assist that’ll reverse park the car for you. The pack also includes a panoramic glass sunroof.