Volvo’s XC40 arrives in the premium compact SUV segment and hits the right note with design, practicality and driving style
Another week, then, another compact crossover/4×4/SUV/whatever, this time the Volvo XC40.The third SUV in Volvo’s line-up completes the Volvo SUV range and it sits bang-on where you’d expect it to: it’s a 4.4-metre-long, high-twenties to 40-grand car that’ll go up against the Audi Q3, the BMW X1 and, now, the Jaguar E-Pace.The XC40 looks like it wants to do things slightly differently to those. Not in its mechanical make-up, necessarily, which is pretty straightforward (more on which in a moment), but at least in its design and ethos. It’s still a Volvo at heart but, whereas other cars are facsimiles of bigger models in their makers’ ranges, the Volvo you should think of as “a cousin, rather than a brother” to XCs 60 and 90.Not only is it smaller, then, it’s a bit chunkier on the outside, and a bit funkier on the inside, than the more elegant but understated 60 and 90 models, which is a theme you might expect to continue when smaller saloons and estates come on this platform too. The platform, or architecture, is new. CMA, or compact modular architecture, they call it, and it’s one of two that’ll underpin all Volvos (the 60 and 90 models are on a different one).Here it is, for the most part, pretty conventional. It’s a steel monocoque, with MacPherson struts at the front and a multi-link arrangement at the rear, electrically assisted steering, and transverse, front-mounted engines driving front or four wheels. Initially, all XC40s coming to the UK are four-wheel drive and have automatic gearboxes. You’ll have a choice of a 187bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine (D4) or a 247bhp 2.0-litre turbo petrol (T5). Here, we’ve driven both, you lucky devils.