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Volvo's entry-level SUV: We drive the new XC40

2017-12-04 12:45

Image: Supplied

Sean Parker

Barcelona, Catelonia - The new XC40 is a very important car for Volvo, it's the Swedish brand's entry-level SUV. It sits below the mid-size XC60 and reigning South African Car of the Year, the XC90. 

Let's get straight into the latest model from the Nordic brand and I'll leave you to judge the exterior but the new SUV is instantly recognisable as a Volvo courtesy of its 'Thor's hammer' headlights and the distinctive 'L-shaped' rear lights. 

The XC40 is built on the 'compact modular architecture' (CMA) platform, a collaboration with its holding company Geely (to cut costs). It will underpin all upcoming cars in the 40 Series including fully electrified vehicles. 

Which models are coming to SA?

Initially, Volvo will launch two models in April 2018, one petrol (T5) and a diesel (D4). Both employ an all-wheel drive system and utilise an 8-speed automatic gearbox. Two trim options (R-Design and Momentum) will be available. 

I drove the duo extensively on tarred roads in Barcelona and its surrounds and was impressed by its behaviour on-road considering the XC40's lofty 211mm ground clearance. 

Unlike some of its rivals, the XC40 doesn't share the same platform as a its hatchback sibling as the V40, and this is tangible in the ride comfort experienced. 

Technical specifications: T5 and D4 models 

Both engines are familiar to the stable, the T5 felt a tad 'laggy' in its application, it produces 185kW and 350Nm. Once the turbo gets going there is plenty of power and oodles of torque. It's a strong engine. 

However, my pick would be the D4, it's torquey (140kW/400Nm) nature lends itself nicely to the type of driving most buyers will do (in and around the city), it's quiet and uses less fuel than the T5. 

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The XC40 has a few tricks up its sleeve as it borrows technology (safety, connectivity and infotainment) from the more expensive XC90 and XC60 cars. The small SUV is available with the brand's pilot assist system, city safety, run-off road protection and mitigation, cross traffic alert with brake support and the useful 360° camera that comes in handy when navigating tight parking spaces.

Functional storage 

The interior designers of the XC40 paid a great deal of attention to create more spaces for storage such as bigger door pockets (by removing the speakers), a tray under the seats and there's even a spot for your cellphone via inductive charging. Volvo even have slots (on the facsia) for credit cards, driver's license etc. 

A nifty feature is the removable waste bin found in the the tunnel console.

There'll be front-wheel drive models coming later in 2018 including D3, T3 and T4 derivatives. Expect a hybridised as well as a pure electric version. Volvo SA confirmed all these versions will eventually come to Mzansi. 

Estimated pricing including all engine and trim derivatives, will be priced from less than R500 000 to around the mid-R600 000 mark. 

The XC40 has all the ingredients of being a strong seller in South Africa: good looking, frugal, great perceived build quality and a host of tech crammed into a package that won't be difficult to manouvre around a city. It's a genuine contender in the small SUV segment and shouldn't be underestimated. 

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