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Recently I was reunited with a Volvo XC40; my first foray had been on the press launch and then, in company with others, the feeling was that Volvo had come up with something special. Since then, our thoughts have been proven correct as this compact SUV has won many awards including European Car of the Year 2018 and the more recent Irish Car of the Year 2019. All of these coveted awards have been justified. I have no doubt that more awards will follow for this distinctive styled SUV.

In order to capture the SUV market which seems to continually grow, Volvo 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. My the days of big load lugging estates is but a memory as this company has propelled itself into providing vehicles which seem right for the time we are in. The XC40 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 best described as functional, clearly the designers set goals to achieve a vehicle that would appeal to a wide audience; not an easy task, get this right and sales will follow. I can not state that the XC40 is the best looking amongst a sea of SUVs, its unique styling does grow on you; its qualities lie in other areas such as safety and being a very functional vehicle. Volvo go head to head with some pretty formidable opponents and I see its main challenger as the new Evoque which recently received a makeover.

Volvo has always majored on safety and when I speak to an owner this always comes out very strongly as the main reason for their purchase and, let’s be honest, driving today has become something akin to a battlefield, so the vehicles we drive require being as safe as possible. I would not be wrong in stating that Volvo has and continues to be the leader in vehicle safety. Thoughts of Volvo and safety spring 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 though, we demand much more from our vehicle 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. 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. However, this time round, my latest venture with a T4 Momentum boasted only front wheel drive; many would expect all wheels driving. I must point out that different markets have various trim levels etc. I spent a week with this SUV and it was an enjoyable and satisfying experience; thanks 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 parking aids featured four cameras which project the entire surrounding area onto the large screen which in addition has a multitude of uses.

New Volvo XC40 – interior

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 delivering strong residual values ahead of it competitors from Germany. On this occasion I had a two litre engine under the bonnet allied to a very smooth and efficient automatic transmission, perhaps a little disappointed with economy. Volvo is one company not keen to rest on its laurels and the next XC40 chapter is the Recharge version, the company’s first ever fully electric car and the first model to appear in its brand-new Recharge car line concept. The XC40 Recharge is the first of a family of fully electric Volvos. It represents a true milestone for this company their first electric car and the first with a brand-new infotainment system powered by Google’s Android operating system. Over the next five years, Volvo will launch a fully electric model every year, as it seeks to make all-electric cars 50 per cent of global sales by 2025, with the rest hybrids. Recharge will be the overarching name for all chargeable Volvos with a fully electric and plug-in hybrid power train. All of this will be accompanied by the features such as safety and quality of build that has put the Volvo brand on the desirability list.

Ian Lynas