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Volvo XC40 (2018 - 2023)

DOES YOUR LIFE BEGIN AT FORTY? (some text hidden) --NONE--

By Jonathan Crouch

Introductionword count: 78

In Sweden, they design SUVs just a little differently. Take this one, Volvo's XC40, a contender that's much more than just a smaller version of the brand's larger models. It gets its own 'CMA' platform and some very distinct design to set itself apart. The result is an interesting alternative to more mainstream premium-branded compact SUVs like BMW's X1 and the Mercedes GLA. And one you might rather like. Let's check this car out as a used buy.

Modelsword count: 3

5dr SUV (EV)

Historyword count: 269

Prior to 2018, Volvo had never made a small SUV but it needed one, hence some new beginnings with this XC40. A Volvo should be a bit different: this one is. What was on offer here was much more than just a smaller version of the brand's larger SUVs. It got some very distinct design to set itself apart and provide a slightly unusual alternative to premium-branded family hatch-based SUVs selling in the compact 'C'-segment. The first big XC40 update arrived in the Autumn of 2019, with the introduction of a T5 Plug-in Hybrid powertrain and an entry-level T2 version of the base three cylinder model. More significantly, at the same time Volvo announced a full-EV version, initially only available in powerful Twin Motor AWD form and sold with 'P8' badging. But hardly anyone was interested at the prices being asked, so 2020 saw the Swedish brand completely rejuvenating the combustion side of the range. The conventional T4 and T5 petrol units were updated to mild hybrid 48-volt B4 and B5 status and a more affordable T4 version of the Plug-in Hybrid powertrain arrived, all of which emboldened the brand to drop diesel power for XC40 folk. With that sorted, Volvo turned its attention back to the fully-electric EV version, which in Autumn 2021 got re-badged as the 'Recharge Pure Electric' and at the same time, the powerful Twin Motor AWD drivetrain was joined by a more affordable front-driven version. Volvo announced a mild facelift in Spring 2022, then switched the front-driven EV version to a rear-driven format. But it's the 2018-2023-era pre-facelift XC40 models we look at here.

What You Getword count: 470

The obvious way to style this car would simply have been to merely shrink the themes established with Volvo's larger SUVs. That's usually what competitors do. But British XC40 designer Ian Kettle wanted this car to be different, which is why we got this, a concept inspired by the small robots he used to watch in science fiction films. Curvy conformity is replaced by chunky cuteness with a 'transformer-like' vibe. Not everyone will like it - but then if everyone did, it wouldn't be such an interesting piece of design. Take a seat up-front. A dose of crushing conventionality here would have been a disappointment after the extrovert exterior: fortunately, that's not what was served up in this case. Instead, you get digital dials, a dose of Swedish minimalism and door cards made of a weird felt apparently fashioned from recycled drinks bottles. There are door bins bigger than any you'll have ever seen. And the designers somehow crammed in the 9-inch portrait-style Sensus infotainment screen that had been used in larger Volvo models, framing it with unusual 'Star Wars'-style vertical vents. In the rear, headroom's generous, even if you've got the optional panoramic glass roof fitted. The relatively lengthy wheelbase helps with legroom too. We're not so keen on the way that the angled style of the rear C-pillar might create something of a claustrophobic feel back here for younger folk; if you've children, take them along on the test drive to make sure they'll be happy here. Finally, the boot. A power-operated tailgate was fitted on plusher versions, but you don't really need it because the tailgate's relatively light and when raised, reveals a low loading lip over which you access a cargo area rated at 460-litres. That's a bit less than you'd get in a Mercedes GLA or a BMW X1 but quite a bit more than would be provided by a Jaguar E-PACE or a Range Rover Evoque. Whatever your point of comparison, you'll struggle to find a rival that will allow you to use the boot area so practically. That's if you get a car whose original owner specified the optional 'Convenience Pack', which gives you a 12v socket along with a load protection net and which can divide the space laterally to stop your shopping from sliding around. The hinges of this divider even stand proud of its top edge, giving you hooks from which you can hang shopping bags. Neat. Fold the rear bench forward and up to 1,328-litres of total capacity is revealed if you load to the roof. That's only 67-litres less than you'd get in Volvo's larger XC60. In the EV version, because no engine is needed beneath the clamshell bonnet, Volvo used the space to create a 'frunk', a 31-litre space that's perfect for the two provided charge leads.

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Category: Crossover or SUV 4x4s

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This is an excerpt from our full review.
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