The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
The XC40's front seats are some of the best you’ll find in any family SUV. There’s a wide range of adjustment for tilt and height, plus four-way electric lumbar adjustment on all versions. Go for Inscription trim or any Pro model and you'll get a fully electric driver’s seat.
We really like the driving position, too. You sit higher than in many rivals, particularly the BMW X1, making the XC40 feel like a proper SUV from behind the wheel rather than just a jacked-up family hatchback. In this class, only the Range Rover Evoque offers a similarly great seating position.
A digital instrument panel is standard and proves easy to read at a glance. Our only criticism is that the minimalist design of the dashboard means you have to delve into the infotainment touchscreen to adjust nearly everything, including the interior temperature. This can be rather distracting when you're driving.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
The elevated seating position gives you a good view of the road ahead, helped further by relatively slim windscreen pillars. You also get fairly large door mirrors, so you can clearly see what’s drawing up alongside, while bright LED headlights are standard and make easy work of night driving.
It’s fortunate that all XC40 models come with rear parking sensors as standard, because over-the-shoulder visibility isn't great, being compromised by a window line that kicks up towards the back of the car. We recommend going for the relatively inexpensive optional rear-view camera (standard on Inscription models) to help out.
A 360-degree camera system is also available, but only as part of the pricey Lounge pack, although all models do get an auto-dimming rear-view mirror.
Sat nav and infotainment
The dashboard in the Volvo XC40 is dominated by a 9.0in tablet-style touchscreen that, in essence, operates much like an Apple iPad. But while the idea of a screen that lets you swipe, pinch and scroll sounds good in theory, in reality it means you have to take your eyes off the road for longer than is ideal just to complete simple tasks – changing the radio station, for example.
Things aren't helped by the fact that some of the icons are small and the screen doesn’t always react that quickly to prods. We rate BMW's iDrive as the best system in the class, because its rotary controller is much easier to operate on the move than any touchscreen.
Still, the XC40's screen is crystal clear and there are plenty of features included as standard. For instance, you get built-in sat-nav, a DAB radio and Volvo On Call, which features an automatic emergency response if you're involved in an accident. Meanwhile, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto phone mirroring is available as an option.
When it comes to interior quality, Volvo now ranks alongside the best in the business. The XC40 is no exception. Pretty much anything you touch in the XC40 feels ready to stand the test of time and the rigours of daily family use, yet also elegantly plush.
There's a great mix of high-end plastics, metal inlays and leather to really give it premium panache. Indeed, the XC40 looks and feels so classy inside that the Range Rover Evoque, and BMW's X1 and X2, are the only other family SUVs that can hold a candle to it.
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