Volvo XC40 review – surprisingly capable compact SUV

We cannot display this gallery

Engine and gearbox

Volvo has ditched a complicated line-up of bespoke engines in favour of a BMW-style modular approach, spinning three and four-cylinder petrols and diesels off the same basic block. The entry-level three-cylinder is a pleasant enough unit, spinning sweetly and relishing hard work. It’s mated to a six-speed manual that’s precise enough, if a little notchy in operation.

All the diesels are essentially the same 2-litre capacity with varying power and torque outputs. They’re reasonably refined, thanks in part to decent sound insulation, and pull strongly in the mid-ranges, making them a strong companion for the eight-speed auto, which shifts up early to make maximum use of the engine’s twist. So effective are these units at low to medium revs that there’s no real point in working them hard, not least because the four-cylinder becomes strained.

Ride and handling

While the engines just about pass muster, the rest of the XC40’s dynamic repertoire is rather more impressive. Volvo aimed to give its compact crossover a more engaging nature than most, albeit not at the expense of comfort and refinement. Overall, it’s job done, the XC40 keeping you entertained enough for what is essentially a family hack.

The steering is quick and it’s connected to a front axle that bites harder than you expect, while the rear end is keen to get in on the action, delivering the lovely sensation of the car pivoting around your hips. It’s surprisingly agile for such a high-riding machine and you can cover ground at a surprising lick – some hot hatches will be humbled. Of course there’s some roll and big undulations result in a little float as the suspension struggles to contain the masses, but the optional $1040 adaptive dampers do a decent job of keeping the body in check most of the time, and we’d recommend making this option one you should tick without hesitation.

The rest of the time the XC40 is a relaxed and relaxing way to get about, the supple ride and strong refinement taking the sting out of daily duties. Factor in those hugely supportive seats and there are few cars more comfortable for the long-haul trips.

Categories: EVO

,,,,,

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.