2018 Volvo XC40 review – price, specs and release date

The Volvo XC40 is the firm’s smallest SUV yet, and a rival to the likes of the Audi Q2 and BMW X1...

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Steve Huntingford
21 Nov 2017 15:00 | Last updated: 14 Jun 2018 00:03

Priced from £27,905 Release date February 2018

Given the huge number of cars they sell, it’s hard to argue that German prestige brands are wrong to give their cars ‘Russian doll’ designs. And yet it’s still refreshing when a rival is a bit braver, as Volvo has been with its new small SUV.

This Volvo XC40 may have similar front and rear lights to the company’s other SUVs to ensure a family resemblance, but the rest of the detailing and the overall proportions of the car are quite different; it certainly doesn't look as if Volvo has put the blueprints for the larger XC60 in a photocopier and set it to 75%.

Proof that it wants to lead, not follow, can also be found in the fact that the XC40 will be the first model to be offered on a new subscription scheme called 'Care by Volvo' (although not immediately), which is designed to mimic the way that people already pay for phones and TV streaming.

Meanwhile, in a less surprising move, Volvo is promising that the XC40 will be the safest car of its type, with a long list of high-tech driver aids borrowed from the more expensive models in its range. Is the XC40 class-leading overall, though?

2018 Volvo XC40 review – price, specs and release date

2018 Volvo XC40 on the road

Intitially, the only engine options are a pair of four-cylinder 2.0-litres: a 247bhp petrol and a 187bhp diesel. However, the range will quickly expand to include 187bhp petrol and 148bhp diesels, while a small and frugal three-cylinder petrol will also arrive in 2018, and hybrid and fully electric XC40s are part of the longer-term plan.

Both of the launch engines get four-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard and both can whisk you up to speed easily enough, although it’s the diesel that's likely to be the bigger seller in the UK, chiefly because it’s cheaper to buy and will be a lot easier on fuel.

It’s not perfect, sounding a bit grumbly in town and quite coarse at high revs. But it transmits little vibration into the car, and the XC40 is a quiet cruiser. Combined with the way the suspension manages to waft you over most imperfections in the road surface at higher speeds, it makes for a car that’s very relaxing during long motorway stints.

Where the ride is less impressive is in town, because here it starts to feel a bit brittle and you find yourself being jostled around over patched-up surfaces.

On the other hand, the XC40 resists body roll well in corners and feels eager to change direction, even if it’s best to keep the steering in Comfort mode, because switching to Dynamic merely adds a lot of extra weight that actually makes it harder to judge how much you need to turn the wheel.

Standard equipment will include Volvo’s City Safety package, which can detect potential accidents with other cars, cyclists and pedestrians and automatically slow the car.

2018 Volvo XC40 review – price, specs and release date

2018 Volvo XC40 interior

As in other modern Volvos, the dashboard of the XC40 is dominated by a large touchscreen that has let the designers slash the number of buttons and create a modern, minimalist ambience.

Not that the absence of buttons is all good news, mind. While the idea of a screen that lets you swipe, pinch and scroll as you do with your iPad sounds good in theory, in reality it makes simple tasks such as changing the radio station quite difficult on the move.

More positively, the standard of fit and finish is first class, with the only slight disappointment the fact that the metal trim on the front doors isn’t carried through to the rears. And aside from rather small rear door openings, practicality is also hard to fault.

2018 Volvo XC40 review – price, specs and release date

In particular, there are thoughtful details such as a pop-out bin between the front seats and door pockets that are big enough to take a laptop or a couple of large bottles of water. Plus, front head and leg room are generous; Volvo has even moved the lower audio speakers from the doors to the dash to free up extra space.

Rear head room also impresses, thanks to the XC40 having a higher roofline than your average small SUV, and there’s enough rear knee room for most adults to sit comfortably. The one concern is the way the window line kicks up towards the rear of the car, because it’s likely to compromise the view out for small children.

As for the boot, the XC40 has 460 litres of space with the rear seats in place – less than the BMW X1, Jaguar E-Pace and Volkswagen Tiguan. However, it should still be able to swallow a couple of large suitcases or a large baby buggy and several bags of shopping.

There’s no load lip to heave luggage over, either, and the rear seats fold completely flat, while part of the boot floor can be folded up into a vertical position to divide up the area and stop smaller items from sliding around.

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