By Amanda Mfuphi
It is quite trite by now that South African car consumers have taken a liking to the rise of SUV offerings in the South African market as viable options for families who may have otherwise opted for a conventional sedan or station wagon. We have also seen the so-called premium brands staking their claim in the compact family car segment through the introduction of vehicles such as the BMW X2, Jaguar E-Pace and Audi Q2, just to name a few in South Africa.
It was therefore not surprising when we saw Volvo introducing a contender in this space during 2018 in the form of the Volvo XC40. The Volvo XC40 is the 2018 European Car of the Year winner and thus the vehicle appears to tick all the relevant boxes. We got to spend some time with the XC40 T3 6 speed manual transmission 2WD R-Design.
The XC40 is beautifully designed and it is immediately identifiable as a Volvo with its massive rectangular gloss-black grille with the Volvo badge. Approaching the car, you are also confronted by the brand’s signature Thor’s Hammer headlights in the front and the signature L-shaped Volvo back lights. On approach, the XC40 appears small and compact, however, it is approximately 4 metres long, with the same height and width as the XC60. Even though the XC40 is the baby of the Volvo SUV family, it comes with 211 mm of ground clearance, making it a capable soft off-roader.
The XC40 has 13 exterior colours and 9 alloy wheel designs to choose from. Our XC40 R-Design came with the Fusion Red colour which had a contrasting black roof which added to the looks of our test car and gave it character. On the back side panels just below the roof, the XC40 had the “R-Design” signage. The XC40 R-Design also came standard with two-tone 20-inch alloy wheels, daytime running LED lights and twin exhaust pipe system.
The interior of the XC40 was quite impressive for us in its minimalist look that avoids a lot of buttons on the centre console. The infotainment system uses a 9-inch Sensus Connect portrait-orientated, tablet-like touchscreen with most of the vehicle’s functions intuitively found in this system. This is from your climate control to your media choices and thus eliminating the need for a lot of buttons that cause clutter in the dashboard. Some passengers called the infotainment system cluster quite futuristic in its design. The seats in our XC40 R-Design was a combination of suede and leather trimming with a good touch of the Swedish flag on the front seats on the side.
On the technology front, the Volvo XC40 is quite impressive on the technology front with an emphasis on safety features as would be expected from a Volvo. The safety features include the City Safety system, which pre-emptively spots animals, vehicles and pedestrians and can bring the car to a standstill autonomously to prevent a collision. Our XC40 R-Design also came with lane departure warning to ensure we kept within our lane, the Pilot Assist semi-autonomous assistance system, blindspot monitoring warning, adaptive cruise control which slows down the vehicle when it senses a car in front of it, rear collision assist and a 360 degree camera for safe parking. To ensure that all its safety features work before you head out, the Intelli Safe System of the XC40 does a quick safety check of the safety features when you turn on the ignition.
Other interior features of the XC40 R-Design include the 9-inch touchscreen, wireless charging, Apple CarPlay, two USB charging ports and a crisp Harman Kardon sound system. The cabin of the XC40 is spacious and can comfortably sit 3 adults at the back with ease and has a decent 460 litre boot. The XC40 also ample compartments for the front passenger and the driver to store their phones, wallets and beverages they may have on the long trips.
Engine and the drive
Our XC40 was a 1.5 liter 3 cylinder engine which packs 115 kW of power and 265 Nm of torque. The XC40 has five driving modes to choose from being the Comfort Mode (every day drive mode), Dynamic Mode (performance or sport mode), Individual Mode (based on driver’s driving pattern), Eco Mode (efficient driving mode) and Off-Road Mode. Volvo claims that the XC40 has a fuel economy of between 5.4 L/100 km and 7.6 L/100 km, however, we only managed to get it to an average of 8.4 L/100 km having utilized the Eco Mode for most of our trips. The petrol engine proved to be not as fuel efficient for us as Volvo claims. This has tended to be our experience with Volvo petrol engines. They are eager and powerful but seldom fuel efficient. We are leaning towards diesel engines from the Swedish car maker.
We took the XC40 on a bit of a drive towards to the Magalies Meander region. We enjoyed driving the XC40, the driving position of the driver is high, and the seats are both comfortable and supportive. The ride quality of the XC40 is refined with no unnecessary rattles or noises and the drive is smooth. The XC40 also feels light on the drive and does not give the impression that you are driving a “big-ish” vehicle.
We also found the XC40 to be adequately powered to carry its body and we found it to be quick off-the-mark and it gave us the required power on inclines and when changing lanes. Eco Mode makes the XC40 seem hesitant off the mark but you are rewarded by the fuel saving from this driving mode. The safety features of the XC40 are also alert and intervene on behalf of the driver during the drive such as speed reduction upon sensing a vehicle when on adaptive cruise control. The XC40 appears to tick most boxes in the segment it competes in; spacious, luxurious, technology advanced, arsenal of safety features, reasonably priced compared to its rivals.
The Volvo XC40 is priced from R509,100. All Volvos come standard with a 5 year / 100,000km Warranty and Maintenance Plan (Volvo Plan).
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