Category winner

The Kia Picanto, Nissan Leaf and Peugeot 5008 have all set new standards in the past 12 months, as have Seat’s Ibiza and Arona. Any of them would have made a worthy overall winner, but they came up against Volvo’s brilliant XC40.

It competes in the fast-growing family SUV segment. And with its mix of comfort, quality, safety and style, the XC40 excels in all the areas that are important to buyers.

Our one concern was that the pick of the engines we’ve tried so far is a diesel. But our independent tests proved that this emits less NOx than plenty of petrols while offering the low CO2 output that made diesels so popular in the first place. In short, the XC40 is a stunning achievement.

> Read our full Volvo XC40 review

AT THIS PRICE level, it isn’t just space and practicality that are important; buyers also expect refinement, comfort and quality. Hoping to win them over this year were the BMW X1 and Volkswagen Tiguan, but Volvo has arrived fresh to the class and stolen the crown.

You’ll love how grown-up the XC40 feels, from its punchy but hushed four-cylinder diesel engine to its solidly constructed interior, which features swathes of soft-touch plastics and remains impressively quiet at a cruise. And despite the fact that Volvo has struggled to crack it with its larger models, the XC40 rides more comfortably than its rivals both in and out of town.

As well as looking and feeling like a premium product, the XC40 is a superb family SUV. The amount of space on offer in its front and rear seats, as well as its capacious boot, will make busy family life easier, while the list of standard equipment has every need (and most wants) ticked. On top of all that, competitive pricing, both at list price and via finance, means the XC40 is a hugely attractive prospect next to its rivals.

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