2018 Volvo XC40 reader test team review

This fashionable SUV is our Car of the Year. Will it become a family favourite, too?...

2018 Volvo XC40 reader test team review

Volvo XC40

For the first time, the What Car? Car of the Year is a Volvo. And what a Volvo it is.

The new XC40 family SUV is boldly styled, has a roomy, comfy and high-quality interior and is great to drive, with powerful, efficient engines and a soft ride. Plus, it comes with all the latest safety standards and tech. What more could you ask of a family car?

Oh yes, value – and it doesn’t disappoint there, either. You can have an XC40 for as little as £27,610, and in our recommended D4 R-Design specification, it’s cheaper than many of its key rivals, including the BMW X1.

The XC40 offers diesel and petrol engines with an automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive. Models with front-wheel drive, manual gearboxes and less powerful engines will be available later this year, as will hybrid versions.

We invited a group of readers to Volvo’s UK offices to see if they’re as impressed as we are.

**Read our comprehensive Volvo XC40 review

**Read why the Volvo XC40 won our Car of the Year Award

**Get a great deal on a Volvo XC40 with What Car?'s new car buyer marketplace

Malcolm and Sarah Setton

Malcolm and Sarah Setton

Age: 46 and 47 Job: Company director (Malcolm) Drive: Porsche Macan

Sarah: “We need a car that has enough space for the family and dog but isn’t immensely big and still has the interior quality and specification that we’re used to.

“The XC40 ticks all of those boxes. I was concerned that it might feel a bit claustrophobic in the back seats, because of the kicked-up windowline, but it’s actually fine, with plenty of head and leg room and decent visibility out of the side windows.

“The acceleration in our Macan diesel is really good, but with Volvo’s D4 engine, which has 187bhp and 295lb ft of torque,the XC40 should be nearly up to its level.”

Malcolm: “Compared with our Macan, the XC40 is very impressive. The fit and finish of the interior is great and the seats are very comfortable.

“The technology is just amazing. Features such as having settings for individual keys that pre-adjust the seats, steering wheel and radio station for each driver takes it to a level beyond what we’ve had before.

“The rear cross-traffic alert is a great safety feature because we have to reverse into a busy road to get out of our driveway.”

Rating: Rated 5 out of 5

Steve Sawyer

Steve Sawyer

Age: 61 Job: Head of sales Drives: Volvo V70

“From certain angles, the front of the XC40 reminds me of a Range Rover – and that’s no bad thing. I like the muscular, angular look of the car.

“I wondered about the way the bonnet dips away and whether that would hinder visibility when parking, but parking sensors and cameras are fitted as standard, so that shouldn’t be a problem.

“I think the roof bars are rather nice and add to the overall look. And the optional brightly coloured trim on the inside I quite like, too; it’s bold.

“I might wait for the T8 petrol-electric hybrid model to arrive, because it will have performance to match the regular petrol engines but better fuel efficiency.

“The boot is large, at 460 litres, and there are plenty of well-thought-out practical features, such as deep cubbyholes, and useful options, including hands-free tailgate opening, a load-securing net and a cargo mat – although unfortunately no spare tyre.

“The XC40’s higher ride height makes it easier to get in and out of, without being like a big old-style SUV where you have to almost climb into it.”

Rating: Rated 5 out of 5

Sandra and Phil Cummings

Sandra and Phil Cummings

Age: 53 and 60 Job: Retired Drives: Subaru Legacy

Sandra: “We sat in the larger Volvo XC60 and liked it a lot, but our children have grown up now, so we’ve made the decision to downsize.

“I’m pleased at how spacious the XC40 is – there’s plenty of head room in the front and the back – and the numerous pockets and cubbyholes will make it easy to keep the interior tidy.

“I wasn’t sure about the half-leather, half-nubuck seats you get on R-Design trim, but having now sat in them, I like them.

“We want a petrol engine and an automatic gearbox, so the 190bhp T4 engine, which comes with four-wheel drive, is the one we’d go for in the XC40.”

Phil: “The XC40’s 9.0in portrait-oriented infotainment screen is going to take a bit of getting used to. But I like the fact that it puts all the key functions in one place. I don’t know if it will be easy to operate while driving, though – perhaps using the voice control will be easier.

“The XC40 also has a 12.3in digital instrument display, but that doesn’t look too complex. Getting out of our 15-year-old Legacy and into the XC40 is like going from an old Nokia brick to a new smartphone.”

Rating: Rated 5 out of 5

Perry Cohn

Perry Cohn

Age: 51 Job: Company director Drives: Audi Q3

“While I like the size of my Q3, it isn’t spacious enough inside for my needs. The XC40, however, is, despite being only a tad longer.

“I’m pleasantly surprised by this car. The functionality and standard equipment are excellent. I’m more than happy with what you get on R-Design trim – on top of the expected features, there are memory seats, and a heated steering wheel is only £175.

“The interior is very modern; it’s great, apart from the optional Lava Orange carpet in this car!

“The image of Volvo as a brand has changed in the past few years; indeed, I think the best way to describe the XC40 is quite funky, perhaps even fun.

“My car has a 184bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine; Volvo’s 2.0-litre D4 unit makes 187bhp and has similar torque figures, so is actually a slight step up.

“Volvos have a reputation for being safer than other cars; I’ve always wondered whether that was just good marketing but, having seen the results of the brand’s latest cars in Euro NCAP tests, plus the high-tech safety systems fitted to the XC40, I can now see that it’s fact.”

Rating: Rated 5 out of 5

Related cars

Volvo XC40

2018 - present

Classy, comfortable and great for safety.