New Volvo XC40 vs BMW X1 vs Volkswagen Tiguan

After the success of its larger XC60 and XC90 SUVs, Volvo is wading into an even tougher fight with the XC40. Its first task is to beat the BMW X1 and VW Tiguan

Words ByWhat Car? team

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BMW X1 rear seats

Space and practicality

Front space, rear space, seating flexibility, boot

We have no complaints with how much space there is in the front of any of these cars. All have plenty of room for long legs, and even with sunroofs fitted across the board (standard on the Tiguan, optional on the others), a six-footer’s head won’t brush any roof. All these cars have relatively wide interiors, too.

In the back seats, some appreciable differences appear. Unlike the XC40, the Tiguan and X1 come with sliding and reclining rear seats, so you can prioritise leg room or boot space, and rear passengers can recline their seats.

The XC40 and Tiguan have slightly less rear knee room than the X1, but because of the design of the Tiguan’s front seatbacks, taller people can have their legs at a more natural angle. But the truth is that two tall people will be more than comfy in the rear of any of these cars. The X1 is best for three, mainly thanks to its relatively low central floor hump.

We squeezed seven carry-on suitcases into the Tiguan’s boot, although we weren’t helped by the awkward ridge in its floor behind the back seats. The X1 and XC40 managed six cases in their main boot area, but both also have large underfloor storage areas; the XC40 took one more case below deck, while the X1 had space for two.


X1 has the most leg and head room front and rear. None of these cars is tight for tall adults, but the X1 is best for three in the back. Loads of underfloor storage creates the biggest boot.

Boot 505-1550 litres Suitcases 8

Volkswagen Tiguan

Although it has the least front leg room, the Tiguan is still spacious and has the comfiest rear seats. On paper, it has the biggest boot, but getting seven cases in was a tighter squeeze than in the XC40.

Boot 615-1655 litres Suitcases 7

Volvo XC40

Sunroofs sap head room, and this is most apparent in the front of the XC40. All seats are still fine for six-footers, though. Rear seats don’t slide or recline, but the boot is big, with underfloor space.

Boot 460-1336 litres Suitcases 7

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Volvo XC40

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The XC40 mixes style, space and comfort with cutting-edge safety and relative affordability so ably that we named it our 2018 What Car? Car of the Year