Volvo XC40 long-term test review

The Volvo XC40 saw off all comers to be named the 2018 What Car? Car of the Year. We’ve added one to our long-term test fleet to see if it’s as impressive when you live with it every day...

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Steve Huntingford
30 May 2018

Long-term Volvo XC40 side
  • The car: Volvo XC40 D4 First Edition
  • Run by: Steve Huntingford, editor
  • Why it’s here: To see if this class-leading family SUV has any flaws that weren’t obvious when we group-tested it against rivals
  • Needs to: Offer outstanding comfort and practicality, a quality interior and low running costs

Price £39,905 Price as tested £39,905 Miles 2502 Official economy 56.5mpg Test economy 36.2mpg Options fitted None

30 May 2018 – shifting perceptions

Even the very best cars have their flaws, and in the Volvo XC40 most of them seem to be related to its automatic gearbox.

For starters there’s the small, joystick-like lever which always returns to centre – something that would be fine except for the fact you have to pull it at least twice to get the car into drive or reverse.

It wouldn’t even be such an issue if you could do this quickly, but you can’t because the gearbox then frequently fails to respond to the second input and you find yourself in neutral. So, you pull it a third time and the ’box sometimes belatedly recognises all three movements and puts the car in manual mode, meaning (yes, you’ve guessed it) you have to pull the lever yet again to return to auto.

Volvo XC40 long-term test review

All of this makes three-point turns and parking manoeuvres a pain. And while Volvo says the need to go through neutral is there to prevent you from accidentally knocking the car into reverse, having a safety button on the lever – as other cars with joystick-style setups do – would be far more user-friendly.

Fortunately, such frustrations fade from your mind when you get the XC40 onto a motorway or A-road, because wind noise is kept to a minimum, the suspension is brilliant at soaking up imperfections in the road surface and the seats keep you comfortable for hours.

Even the gearbox is acceptable in these conditions, shifting down only when you ask for a big burst of acceleration. But then you slow to town speeds and it once again starts to frustrate, being slow to react to changing conditions and frequently letting the engine rev higher than it needs to.

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