The 2-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine in the XC40 is Volvo’s sole ranger ever since the current gen XC90 came out. Offered across the range, this engine makes 190bhp and 400Nm in the XC40 and is paired to an 8-speed automatic. It offers smooth and relentless surge of power for the most part, making the XC40 quite brisk as a daily driver. The strong performance is aided by the 8-speed automatic that delivers silky smooth gear changes. The midrange pull in the Volvo is particularly strong and even at the top-end, this motor maintains a certain degree of zing. The overall refinement levels are also high with little in terms of engine and road noise entering the cabin.
The X1, too, has a 2-litre diesel engine that’s paired to an 8-speed auto. Although it’s slightly louder than the XC40 at idle, it is still a fairly smooth performer and there is no denying its strong pull and flexibility. It’s a willing performer and the 8-speed auto, in typical BMW fashion, is superbly calibrated to extract the most amount of grunt. Although not as linear as the XC40, the X1’s midrange pull is stronger which makes it a pleasantly effective overtaking machine.
All in all, the X1’s drivetrain is more exciting whereas the XC40 is calmer yet potent nonetheless. Naturally, the BMW turned out to be quicker during our testing. It took 7.83 seconds to hit 100kmph from standstill, as against the XC40 which completed the same run in 8.37 seconds. In gear, it did 20-80kmph in 4.87 seconds (the XC40 took 5.46 seconds) and 40-100kmph in 6.31 seconds (6.50 seconds for the XC40).
Moving onto the more important aspects that is the ride and handling of these cars. The overall noise suppression is more impressive in the XC40. While you do hear the suspension working over sharp road imperfections, it’s the X1 that exhibits more squeaks and rattles from its cabin. As for the ride quality itself, again it’s the XC40 that offers more compliance and is way softer than the X1. The M Sport version rides on low profile rubber which makes the ride unusually stiff for the most part.
The X1 M Sport, however, fights back as you approach a set of corners. Its pointer front end and nimbler steering makes it more fun to chuck around than the Volvo. It does roll a bit but then it’s also quick to settle down mid corner. The XC40 isn’t a bad handler at all – the body control is great and the steering weighs up nicely, too. It’s just that it’s not as agile or involving to drive as the X1.