Volvo's XC40 is much more than just a smaller version of the brand's larger SUVs. It gets its own all-new 'CMA' platform and a very distinct design to set itself apart. The result is a slightly unusual alternative to premium-branded compact SUVs like Audi's Q3 and the Mercedes GLA.
The XC40's 'CMA' platform has been based around provision for a whole range of future cutting-edge Volvo powerplants, including three-cylinder engines plus a Plug-in hybrid and a fully-electric version. At the moment for buyers, there's mostly a choice of the Swedish brand's efficient 2.0-litre 'Drive-E' petrol and diesel units. If you want to fuel from the green pump, the range starts with the three cylinder 1.5-litre 156hp T3 variant, which is only offered with front wheel drive and a choice of either manual or auto transmission. Alternatively, there's a 2.0-litre 190hp T4 derivative, with the same engine offered in 247hp guise in the top T5 variant. Both these more powerful versions come only with auto transmission and 4WD. As for the 2.0-litre diesels, well things kick off with the 150hp D3, which comes with front or four-wheel drive and manual or auto transmission. Or there's the 190hp D4, which comes in auto 4WD form only. Available driving systems include the brand's 'Pilot Assist' autonomous set-up which can steer and brake for you on the highway.
It's an interesting combination this. A Swedish-branded product, financed by a Chinese conglomerate, styled by a British designer and built in a Dutch factory. We'll start with the penman, a young Englishman Ian Kettle who says that the look of this car was inspired by robots he'd seen in sci-fi movies. In styling this contender, his brief was to give the XC40 its own identity, rather than simply making it a down-sized XC60. So, while this car shares its bigger stablemate's 'Thor's Hammer' LED headlights and clamshell bonnet, it also gets unique touches like an inverted front grille and coupe-like rear styling.
To some extent of course, the XC40 had to be different because it rides on quite different underpinnings, a 'CMA' ('Common Modular Architecture') platform that'll be seen on a whole range of future small models from Volvo and its Chinese parent Geely. What it means here is that for the first time, Volvo has a range of three SUVs; other brands have that too of course but in this case, the three products are each quite distinct in character. The Swedish brand hopes that'll be significant.
Volvo clearly felt that to break into the premium brand compact SUV segment, it had to offer something distinctively different to its German rivals, so that's exactly what we've got. Not everyone will like the looks but there's no doubt that they will help the brand to target buyers who would never previously have considered a Volvo.
Will these people pass up a premium German-branded alternative to own this car though? Well, the class-leading safety standards may be tempting for some. And the personalisation options a deciding factor for others. Overall, if you're looking for a quality option that's a bit more unique in this segment, Volvo thinks it has a car that'll interest you very much.Click here to find out more about our Volvo XC40 range