BY ANDREW MUZAMHINDO
Volvo’s first iteration of the XC40 was released in 2018 and was hailed by many as a massive leap forward for the Swedish brand.
Bringing everything that made the larger versions so popular to a younger market and making the vehicle more appealing to a younger audience was the key.
A few weeks ago, Volvo unveiled their update for the XC40 T3 range. Volvo people say they have also aimed it squarely at the Mercedes GLA, Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Range Rover Evoque. The Lexus NX and Infiniti QX30 are in the mix too.
An initial glance would make you think that very little has changed with the XC40. There are still strong muscular lines, purposeful front and rear styling and a host of strong Nordic colours to choose from. The adaptive LED headlamps are now standard equipment while items such as the 18″ wheels, panoramic sunroof and power-folding exterior mirrors with an auto-dimming function still help the XC40 look bigger than it is.
The XC40 does retain some distinctive Volvo design cues. Its Thor’s Hammer headlight design and equally striking LED rear lights, for instance, ape the company’s other models, keeping the bloodline recognisable.
The rest of the car’s detailing and its overall proportions are quite different, though. It certainly does not look as if Volvo has popped the blueprints for the XC60 into a photocopier, selected “reduce size” and pushed “print”.
The largest changes, it would appear, are in the inside. The designers have done away with the wood inlays in favour of textured plastic and metal surfaces and have included much more kit as standard offering, but more on that later.
The XC40 is still powered by a 1,5l 3-cylinder turbo petrol engine, mated to an eight-speed Geartronic automatic transmission. The combo is good for 110kW/ 265Nm and is limited to a 180km/h top speed. The XC40 is no slouch and the 10 sec 0-100km/h is proof of that.
Opening the door reveals a very high-end interior, although a bit dark and sombre in the black on black, your eye picks out highlights such as the shift knob crafted from Orrefors crystal. The dashboard is dominated by the Volvo Sensus Connect infotainment system featuring a 9.0-inch screen powering a Harmon Kardon speaker system.
The electrically adjusted heated front seats are now covered in leather as standard while piano black and brushed aluminum surfaces illuminate the high points.
As far as tech is concerned, Volvo has removed some items such as the heated wiper blades, heated steering wheel and 12v outlet in the boot area and put them on the options list. Feature items such as the electrically operated tailgate, dual zone climate control, wireless smartphone charging pad, keyless entry, ambient lighting and two rear-seat USB-C ports are now standard.
In order to reduce costs, the Adaptive Suspension System is no longer available, but you do still get Eco, Comfort and Sport engine modes.
Volvo is the king of safety and as such the XC40 gets a five-star safety rating. This is due to the high levels of safety equipment featured such as a 360-degree camera, PDC (Park Distance Control), ABS, EBD, LKA (Lane Keeping Assist), ISOfix, TPMS (Tyre Pressure Monitoring System) TSC (Traction and Stability Control), six airbags, Adaptive Cruise Control with a semi-autonomous mode, BSM (Blind-Spot Monitoring), and the Rear-cross-traffic alert and rear parking sensors that are now standard fitment.
On fuel consumption, Volvo claims 7,0l/100km.
The few small changes that Volvo has made to the XC40 have not dampened its youthful vigour. The addition and subtraction of equipment has made the XC40 slightly more desirable than it was, but has not dampened its ability to thrill in the city.
Few luxury subcompact SUVs pack as much value and utility into a small package like the 2021 Volvo XC40. While it satisfies in performance, seating space, and cabin quality, you may want to look elsewhere if you prioritise a huge cargo hold or the most straightforward infotainment system.
Yes, the XC40 is a good luxury subcompact SUV. It offers a pleasant ride with fairly spirited handling, and both of its turbocharged engine options deliver solid acceleration. The cabin has quality materials and a sharp design, and passenger space is good for such a small vehicle. The cargo hold is smaller than many rivals’ offerings, but it is still very functional. The biggest issue with the XC40’s cabin is its somewhat convoluted infotainment system.
Engine type — Number of cylinders: Inline 3;
Fuel type: Petrol;
Fuel System: Direct injection;
Engine size — displacement — engine capacity: 1477cm3 or 90,1 cu-in;
Number of valves: 12 valves;
Aspiration: Turbo intercooler;
Maximum power — output — horsepower: 110kW at 5500rpm; and
Maximum torque: 265Nm at 1850rpm.