New BMW X1 vs new Genesis GV70 vs Volvo XC40: interiors

When it comes to posh family SUVs, the Volvo XC40 has ruled the roost for several years. Now, though, it faces fresh competition from a reborn rival and a new challenger with big ideas...

NEW BMW X1 dashboard

Behind the wheel

Driving position, visibility, build quality

If you're considering a family SUV over a traditional hatchback because you crave a more commanding driving position, you'll be very pleased with either the Genesis GV70 or the Volvo XC40. Both perch you nice and high up, giving you impressive visibility all round and the ability to peer over the rooftops of regular family cars. This is not the case in the BMW X1, which places you in a lower, sportier driving position, although all-round visibility remains excellent, thanks to its tall side and rear windows. 

Meanwhile, parking any of the three should be a relative easy breeze, because they all have rear parking sensors and rear-view cameras. The X1 and XC40 also come with front sensors, and the latter gets a 360deg camera – an expensive option on the X1 and GV70. 

Genesis GV70 dashboard

When it comes to getting comfortable, the GV70 and XC40 make life easy with an electrically adjustable driver's seat (a £1050 option on the X1), and because both have a memory function, you can recall your settings at the touch of a button after someone else has been driving the car. Finding a comfortable posture is a little bit trickier in the X1, because its steering wheel is fractionally offset to the left. 

When you've finally finished fine-tuning your driving position, you'll also find that the GV70 makes life particularly easy. You'll find physical dials for the air-con within easy reach, with handy shortcut toggles (for media, sat-nav and settings) just below them. Factor in the rotary controller between the front seats for the infotainment system and the GV70 has one of the most intuitive driving environments of any SUV on sale today. 

The X1 and XC40 aren't quite as accomplished when it comes to usability; both cars feature minimalist dashboard layouts that force you to delve into the infotainment touchscreen to adjust nearly everything, including the interior temperature. And while both get voice command systems, they're far from perfect.

Volvo XC40 dashboard

In terms of interior quality, there's little to split the GV70 and XC40. Both present an eclectic mix of materials that help to brighten up their interiors, and there are nice little details (such as the contrast stitching in the GV70 and the chic fabric-lined doors in the XC40) that make both feel rather special. We should point out, however, that our GV70 came with optional Nappa leather (£2750) and clever interior trim inserts that light up at night (£250). 

The new X1, meanwhile, may look swish inside in pictures, but there's rather a lot of unappealing hard plastic throughout. It's a way behind its rivals for quality, and behind the previous X1 too, for that matter. 

Infotainment systems


New BMW X1 infotainment

BMW’s new infotainment system (called Operating System 8) has loads of features, and its 10.7in touchscreen has very sharp graphics and responds to touches rapidly. However, the X1 no longer gets a rotary controller; instead, control is via touch or a reasonably effective (but far from perfect) voice command system. Losing the dial might sound a small change, but it’s enough to turn this from a class-leading system to one that’s fiddly to use when you’re on the move.

Genesis GV70 

New Genesis GV70 infotainment

At 14.5in, the GV70’s touchscreen is one of the largest you’ll find in the class, but it’s a bit of a stretch to use while driving compared with the portrait-orientated screen in the XC40. Thankfully, you don’t have to operate the system solely through the touchscreen; there’s also a rotary controller that’s much less distracting (and therefore safer) to use while you’re driving. You simply spin a dial to scroll through the menus and press down to make a selection.

Volvo XC40 

Volvo XC40 infotainment

The XC40’s portrait-orientated 9.0in touchscreen looks and operates a little like a tablet, with menus that slide and swipe. However, it’s not particularly responsive and some of its smaller icons can be tricky to hit while driving. Ultimate models get a punchy 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system as standard and all models offer Apple CarPlay. It is odd, though, that despite having an Android-based operating system, Android Auto is not available.

Also consider