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.