What is it?
This is the petrol version of the Volvo XC40 SUV that was sold only as a diesel version in India. And more importantly it’s compliant with the upcoming BS6 norms. With Indian consumers turning to gasoline vehicles day by day, the launch of this model was necessitated. We now put it through its paces in the picturesque trails of Goa to tell you how it performs.
Before that we remind you that the XC40 appearance-wise is still the same SUV that had won many accolades for its design and styling. Thankfully, this attractive petrol variant continues to feature the compact dimensions along with typical Volvo traits like the signature Thor’s hammer LED headlamps and striking tail lamps. In fact, since this comes only in the R-Design trim, I'm glad that most of the chrome accents are gone. Now it gets glossy black front and rear skid plates, integrated roof rails, 18-inch matte black diamond-cut alloy wheels and some more black accents to enhance its appeal.
How is it on the inside?
Inside a few things have changed like the flashy orange trims on the door pad and the centre console from the older car and they have been replaced with the black ones. Apart from these bright bits taken out, the XC40's cabin still remains to be an ergonomically laid out one with storage spaces, bottle and cup holders, along with the same boot-space from the old car, making it a practical cabin. The dashboard is upholstered with soft-touch materials that have an excellent fit and finish, thereby giving it a very premium feel. The R-design leather can be seen on the steering wheel and even on the four-way electrically adjustable front seats that offer more than adequate support. The driver seat further elevates this comfort with a four-way adjustable lumbar support that has memory function. The same cannot be said about the rear seats though, especially when accommodating three individuals even if there’s good amount of legroom. That said, these offer a good lateral support to two occupants, but are placed at a low height and do not offer under thigh support.
Nevertheless, feature-wise the XC40 is loaded to the brim with all the bells and whistles one would expect from a luxury brand. Its USP still remains to be the fluid and intuitive nine-inch vertically stacked touchscreen with smartphone connectivity features, and a digital instrument cluster, both of which are crisp and give out a chunk load of information. A Harmon/Kardon 14-speaker 600W surround system with a dash-mounted woofer takes care of all your entertainment needs, while there's also wireless charging on offer. The other highlights include a panoramic sunroof and powered tailgate with hands-free operation. Then, apart from the usual safety features like TPMS, distance alert, rear and front park assist, roll stability control and seven airbags, the XC40 also gets a segment-first radar-based safety and driver-assist system. This includes city safety with steering assist which can operate at speeds up to 50kmph, adaptive cruise control, lane mitigation, driver alerts and run-off road protection amongst others.
How does it drive?
At the heart of this SUV is a BS6-compliant, 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine, which churns out 190bhp of power and 300Nm of torque. Unlike its earlier AWD diesel version, this one is a front-wheel-drive model. On the transmission front, the engine comes mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. And, the clumsy shifter is carried over which instead of the usual shift, clicks. So it needs a double tap to get into the right mode. Else it goes in neutral and can get irritating while parking. At idling or even at the start-up, the engine is very silent and no vibrations can be felt at all. But once the tachometer needle starts going north, a whirring sound of the engine can be heard. That said, it's not very evident at low revs and only gets prominent after the 3,000rpm mark. Yet, this mill revs cleanly through the power band till the 6,000rpm redline.
There's an adjustable drive mode setting that lets you choose between Eco, Comfort, Dynamic, Off-Road and Individual. What it essentially does is that it alters the throttle response from being comfortable to being sportier, with the individual modes giving the driver an option to choose what suits him. Even the steering feels nice and light in the Eco mode with the gearbox upshifting at low revs. But the gearbox isn't quickest to shift here, and the slow progress that the car makes isn't very enjoyable. Still, as you go up the modes from Comfort to Dynamic, the steering gets heavier and the throttle response sharper. The revs are also held on for a longer interval and it upshifts only around the 4,000rpm mark. The motor gets a bit vocal here, but you will love how quickly the car lurches forward. That said, there's enough torque to quickly overtake a large vehicle, despite the option of manually shifting through the paddle shifters. Nonetheless, even at 2,500rpm one can smoothly cruise at triple digits speeds and keep the momentum thanks to the ample amount of usable power.
Unlike the other Volvos that boast of an air suspension, the XC40 gets a conventional steel spring independent set-up with fixed damping. It's nicely tuned to suit our Indian driving conditions even if it isn't as plush as the air suspension. In our brief stint with the XC40, we managed to put the SUV through some rough patches. At slow speeds, it isolated the noise and undulations pretty well without sending any jolts into the cabin. The off-road mode does lighten up the steering and activates hill-descent control, but it won't help you venture out into the unknown. That said, you can hear the suspension working and it has a robust set-up for taking on the dug up sections of the road and the diversions without inducing a lot of movement inside.
Then, for the handling part, the high speed straight-line stability is quite commendable. Even the steering is quick with just two and a half turns lock-to-lock. It's light in the comfort mode and consistently weighs up as the speed increases, or when the Dynamic mode is selected. It takes the long bends at high speeds effortlessly but you wouldn't want to push it through corners as the body roll gets pretty evident. And it’s a front wheel drive car, so if you’re too aggressive, it understeers. Thankfully the smart electronics cut in the power and help regain the control. Otherwise, the body roll is well contained, brakes are sharp with a good bite and Pirelli P-Zero tyres provide sufficient grip.
Should I buy one?
Unlike other SUVs of this size and from this segment which look almost similar to each other, the Swedish luxury carmaker has stepped up the game with the XC40 T4 R-Design. The modern Scandinavian styling is paired with practical features which results in a sorted ride. Despite the on-road pricing of more than Rs 50 lakhs, it is still worth recommending.
Where does it fit in?
Pictures by Kapil Angane