Volvo is currently on the crest of a wave, having recently scooped the UK Car of the Year Award with their XC60 and more recently taking the coveted European Car of the Year Award with the XC40.
In order to capture the SUV market which seems to continually grow, they now have three premium SUVs, the compact XC40, the mid size XC60 and the large range topper, the XC90.
Volvo has distinct aims, to make life easier, safer and better and no one could disagree with these objectives.
The XC40 in a manner gets away from the traditional Swedish style, on this occasion it was penned in the company’s Californian design studio and the new SUV is manufactured in Belgium. The design both exterior and interior wise is functional, clearly the designers set goals to achieve a vehicle that would appeal to a wide audience.
For now power units will rely on petrol or diesel, and let us not forget that Volvo has made it clear that all their vehicles will rely on hybrid or all electric power from 2019. Want to purchase an XC40 now, after having tried a petrol engine and a diesel engine, you will not be disappointed.
My first drive was in a diesel powered version with the D4 engine which delivers a respectable 190bhp, rest to 62mph in 7.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 130mph ( 209kph). While my second opportunity behind the wheel was with a petrol with 247bhp from the D5 unit. Both featured an automatic transmission and all wheel drive, two wheel drive is also available on certain variants.
In order to help launch the newcomer to the buying public, both the XC40s I tried were First Edition models which are based on the mid spec R-Design Pro. The other trims are Momentum and the more luxurious Inscription.
The R- Design is the sportier of the line- up in terms of appointment rather than out and out performance. The T5 petrol can reach 62mph in 6.5 seconds and to 140mph (225kph). Further power units will follow later as no doubt will hybrids etc.
Looking at the overall range the prediction is that the D3 FWD R-Design will take the majority of sales. I should add that a manual transmission is offered.
Colour is now a key factor with the modern vehicle and Volvo has given its new compact SUV a good palettes of colours which extend to the extremely comfy and driver friendly interior. In keeping with another growing trend in this sector- two tone and it really brings the XC40 to life.
Volvo is at pain not to describe the new XC40 as a little brother to the XC69 but rather a cousin and worth noting it is the first Volvo to be built employing the all new Compact Modular Architecture.
Volvo in some of their advertising say that their new baby is primarily for urban environments, however with its high ground clearance, I would happily take it to areas where others might fear to tread.
When you think of Volvo, safety springs into focus immediately and this time they take it to a higher standard. Cutting edge collision avoidance systems and class leading safety credentials provide assurance to all who journey in the new XC40.
Today we demand much more from our mode of transport than simply the ability to travel from A-B, we require connectivity to keep in touch with the world around and in this area full marks to Volvo.
Within the youthful contemporary interior, the newcomer benefits from connectivity and infotainment technology handed down from the established larger models.
Space does not permit me to identify all that is offered, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay allows access to much of your mobile phones functionality. There is a sophisticated voice activated control system which operates in tandem with the large touch screen. There is also a built in car modem, and a range of Cloud based apps are available.
Living with the new SUV will be an enjoyable experience, from its hands free opening tailgate to a large number of well placed storage areas and in the luggage area the parcel shelf can be removed and stowed beneath the luggage compartment floor, while a flexible floor allows you to neatly separate your luggage and one clever touch, hooks to secure shopping bags. The thought that has gone into bringing the XC40 to market is excellent and will be widely appreciated to those who decide to take the Volvo route.
Behind the wheel, vision is good and you get a strong feeling that you are in command of a quality vehicle and one which is already indicating strong residual values ahead of it competitors from Germany.
Prices start at £27,905 (€31,647) N.I. (€38,500 in the R.O.I.) for the T3 Momentum manual and despite this being the entry level model it comes with a surprisingly level of spec. The strength of the Volvo brand now rests with its family of SUVs; they certainly have hit the sweet spot.