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Driven: Volvo's new XC40 in Johannesburg

2018-04-18 19:31

Sean Parker

Image: Wheels24

Johannesburg - Make no mistake, this is the most important car Volvo has launched since its XC90, which showed the Swedish automaker could take on its German rivals and then some. 

The XC90 debuted hybrid engines and automaker's now familiar sensus touchscreens which aided to its appeal, in fact it grabbed the South African Car of the Year title in 2016. 

Volvo's new XC40 arrives in SA: We have prices, details

I've driven it extensively over the past three years and can attest to how good it is but it's expensive and large. Cue the XC40, the newest and smallest SUV launched in South Africa this week. 


I tested the D4 and T5 models, the former powered by a 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine with 140kW and 400Nm. 

The T5 employs a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol unit with an impressive 185kW and 350Nm. 

The duo are very different to drive, not only in the manner they apply power (through all-four wheels) but in the way they handle. 

The diesel feels sluggish and the steering has a weightier feel in comparison to the more agile and nimble-footed T5. 

One area both SUVs excel in is excellent ride comfort. The roads around the north of Johannesburg resemble a teenager's face during puberty, but the duo behaved immaculately offering arguably best in class ride quality. 

The T5 is a wonderful little car to drive enthusiastically, and that's what I did when I found a decent set of twisties (very hard to do in Joburg, I might add). Both cars had optional 'paddle-shift' fitted.

Best of both worlds?  

The XC40 sits 211mm off the ground but that height only comes apparent once you're behind the steering wheel. 

It'll find a good balance between being luxury-compact SUV in the week and also be able to go off the beaten path when needed to during weekend trips. It has enough storage binnacles, 12v sockets for the entire family to charge their electronic devices. 

The XC40 faces stiff competition from Jaguar's E-Pace, BMW's X2 and the Volkswagen Tiguan. But with prices starting at R489 500 (for the T3 model, which arrives later this year), it offers good value. 

Inside, it benefits from the large touchscreen first seen in the XC90, and tactile quality befitting of European designer furniture. 

On the safety front, the XC40 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. We put all of these systems to work during the test drive in the bustling city of gold. 

In summary, after experiencing the SUV at its international launch in Spain last year and now in Joburg, I'm confident it will perk up the Swede's sales figures in Mzansi. 

It's a compelling package that should be given serious consideration. 

Prices: 

D4 AWD R-design - R639 200

T5 AWD R-design - R649 700

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