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Road test – the Volvo XC40

Volvo, it seems, are on a roll. Once beloved only of a small yet discerning band of folk, these days they are a company who are regularly in the news. Whether declaring their latest outstanding safety record (nobody has lost their life in a car-to-car accident in an XC90 – ever), outlining their plans for electrification of their range, or announcing yet another consumer award, they have emerged from the margins of the car world with significantly increased sales volumes, bucking the recent trend for declining new car markets. Much of this success is due to the impressive new models being released in recent years, for example the XC60 SUV on which we reported a few months ago.

Their latest release, the XC40 compact SUV, is set to grow Volvo market share even further. Indeed, for a car which only hit the showrooms at the end of February, the UK order books have been inundated, with the high-specification First Edition model selling out within days of the launch. In fact the success of the XC40 seems to have caught Volvo out, for if you try to order one today you could well be quoted a delivery date into 2019! However, Volvo have already increased production capacity so this should be only a temporary blip.

So why has the XC40 become an instant hit in a market sector that is incredibly competitive, with products available from just about every manufacturer? Doubtless the halo effect from the bigger XC60 and XC90 SUV models set the scene, but the XC40 is much more than a mini-me version of the bigger models, having its own distinctly different styling. Its British designer, Ian Kettle, refers to it as looking like a tough little robot, and that sums the chunky, robust yet clean styling up quite well. Inside, the clean, simple styling theme continues, however the all-important dials and controls in front of the driver are identical to those of the bigger, more expensive XC60 and XC90. It’s also deceptively spacious, belying its relatively compact dimensions, and is in true Volvo fashion outstandingly comfortable.

Specification levels, and of course price, vary with each model, but significantly even the cheapest models are equipped with many safety and other features only available as expensive options on other brands, such as the fully digital instrument panel and the superb 9” centre touchscreen.

Small wonder, then that the XC40 has rapidly gained accolade after accolade including several Car of the Year awards. Indeed, it’s so impressive that this petrolhead, who would once never have been seen in a Volvo, has done the unthinkable – I bought one myself!

More motoring information can be found on the writer’s website www.autonews.uk.com.
© Andy Goundry May 2018

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