What's the used Volvo XC40 estate like?
To many, Volvo's are seen as being well thought out, 'fit for purpose' cars that are also very safe. But there have been a few desirable and stylish examples, such as the P1800, 480 ES and C30 Coupé, that have bucked this stereotype, albeit at the expense of practicality.
However, a host of good-looking Volvo SUVs, such as the XC60 and XC90, manage to satisfy both criteria. None more so than the smaller, more compact XC40 – a car that oozes style both inside and out - and can be had for a decent saving over what they cost when new in 2017, when we gave it our overall Car of the Year award.
It offers a wide range of engine options, too. Under the bonnet, to begin with, was a range of 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines. Petrols on offer comprised a 154bhp T3, 187bhp T4 and 244bhp T5. A downsized three-cylinder 1.5 arrived in 2018 as a direct replacement for the existing T3 (upgraded in 2019 to 161bhp).
This smaller engine allowed for a slew of plug-in hybrids to join the range in 2020 with the 204bhp T4 and 258bhp T5 Recharge models. A fully electric Recharge T8 with a range of around 250 miles also arrived in 2020, as did an entry-level 127bhp T2 petrol. The existing T4 and T5 petrol engines gained 48V mild hybrid technology and a boost in power to become the 194bhp B4 and 247bhp B5 models.
There are also two 2.0-litre diesels: the 148bhp D3 and 187bhp D4. These diesels, however, were dropped in late 2020 in preference for the plug-in hybrid models.
Trims start off with entry-level Momentum. This comes with lots of goodies, including cruise control, dual-zone climate control, a 9.0in tablet touchscreen, digital instruments, 18in alloy wheels, LED headlights and rear parking sensors. Next up is the sportier R-Design. This adds seats trimmed in leather and nubuck, power-folding door mirrors, privacy glass and ambient interior lighting. The more luxurious Inscription model completes the range with an electrically adjustable driver’s seat, front parking sensors, an electric tailgate, wood trim inlays and a crystal gear selector on automatic versions.
Trims with 'Pro' at the end of the name add adaptive LED headlights, heated front seats, an electrically adjustable passenger seat with memory function, headlight washers, a heated windscreen and 19in or 20in alloy wheels. Options worth seeking out include the Convenience Pack for its extra practicality.
On the road, the XC40 is a smooth and hushed performer, with a low level of wind and road noise, helping to make the interior a noticeably refined place in which to spend time, and most engines provide more than enough oomph.
Fling it through a series of bends and the XC40 reveals itself as competent, though not inspiring. It leans a fair bit and the steering, while reasonably quick, is a little imprecise, but there’s plenty of grip. The car rides well, being composed and breezing over road ripples easily, although oddly it’s rather better on the ‘sports’ suspension fitted to R-Design models than the softer ‘dynamic’ suspension. Our experience of the car on the optional adaptive suspension suggests it’s not worth seeking out a car with this fitted.
Inside, you'll find an excellent driving position with good visibility, a comfortable seat and plenty of adjustment. The standard digital instruments prove easy to read at a glance, and because the minimalist dashboard design carries few physical buttons, it’s easy to interpret those that are there. However, you do have to access quite a lot of functions through the infotainment touchscreen; this can be a faff, but at least the screen is crystal-clear.
When it comes to interior quality, the XC40 is exceptionally classy. All the surfaces that you interact with regularly feel suitably upmarket, thanks to plush, soft-faced materials, smart wood veneer or metal highlights. Everything feels robust, too, so it should stand the test of time and the demands of family use.
There’s plenty of space up front, while rear passengers have enough leg and head room, although rivals such as the BMW X1 and Volkswagen Tiguan offer slightly more. On paper, the XC40’s boot is smaller than those rivals', too, but in everyday use it’s wide, deep and easily accessible, with a useful underfloor storage area.
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