Review: Volvo XC40 (2018)
Great ride comfort and general refinement. Good range of efficient engines.
Not the most practical small SUV. Can quickly get expensive with higher specification models.
Volvo XC40 (2018): At A Glance
- New prices start from £28,260, brokers can source from £22,995
- Contract hire deals from £269.99 per month
- Insurance Groups are between 22–33
- On average it achieves 76% of the official MPG figure
You can’t really overstate the desirability of the XC40. Its bluff, boxy shape, angular contrasting roof is complete with a colour palette that’s so on-trend it would make Farrow and Ball proud. The interior, too, features a range of materials and finishes that make an Audi or BMW look rather unimaginative, yet the XC40 feels just as grown-up and classy.
The XC40 comes with a wide range of engines. A 150PS diesel or 156PS three-cylinder petrol – the D3 and T3 - start the range and are great for those after an efficient around-town SUV offered.
Mid-range D4 and T4 variants are likely to be the most popular and improve refinement as well as performance. You can step up even further to the hot hatch-like T5 model. A plug-in hybrid, complete with the T3 petrol engine and pure-electric running combines impressive performance with low running costs.
While the entry-level engines aren’t perhaps as refined and slick as you might expect of the XC40, you won’t find an XC40 that isn’t a pleasure to drive. Particularly if you have to the eight-speed automatic gearbox that’s optional on lower models and standard on most of the range, the XC40 has a slick, natural fluidity to it that makes it satisfying whether you’re weaving through traffic or tackling the motorway.
While the baby Volvo isn’t cheap – a Kia Sportage will do a similar job with less premium feel but for much less cash, for instance - it is very competitively priced and well equipped as standard.
Every car gets a big touchscreen with navigation and much of the functionality you want, although you’ll have to pay £300 for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which is cheeky given that most rivals have it as standard. It’s not the easiest system to get to grips with, either, but with time you do get used to it. You also get LED headlights, climate control and rear parking sensors on every car, and even the entry-level Momentum cars feel appropriately plush inside.
Volvo aoffers an all-inclusive finance service that means you can have a new XC40 every couple of years, all your insurance and tax costs lumped in plus some sweeteners like 14 days per year in one of Volvo’s bigger models if you need it, so all you need to do is pay for your fuel. It’s an expensive way of getting into the XC40 but if convenience is your priority rather than value, then this is a brilliantly easy way of buying a car.
Safety is another real selling point for the XC40. It gets about the most comprehensive standard safety kit in the class, and then you can even add Volvo’s semi-autonomous ‘Intellisafe Pro’ pack, which means the car will actually steer, brake and accelerate for you, albeit only when the lane markings allow, and you must always have your hands on the steering wheel and be in control of the car.
Inside and out, the XC40 is refreshingly different yet achingly on-trend, and is about the best car in its class, which is saying something given that it includes rivals like the BMW X2, Range Rover Evoque, Jaguar E-Pace and Audi Q3. It’s even a pleasure to drive and, provided you stay away from the options list, makes sense financially.
What does a Volvo XC40 (2018) cost?
Volvo XC40 (2018): What's It Like Inside?
Volvo has really created something special with the XC40 interior. While an Audi or BMW feel a fraction more solid in some areas, the Volvo still feels precisely screwed together and it actually betters its rivals for the tactile and interesting yet impeccably classy materials.
Even the entry-level trim, without added options, feels modern, expensive and appealingly different to the norm.
The seats are comfortable (adjustable lumbar support is standard, which is a most welcome and unusual addition) and high-set enough to make the XC40 feel like a ‘proper’ SUV rather than a hatchback-crossover. The portrait-mounted 9.0-inch infotainment touchscreen and big digital driver’s readout all ensures that it feels appropriately high-tech, too.
Practicality is decent, particularly in terms of neat touches around the cabin. There’s a hook for your bag on the front glovebox, some slots to store staff card or parking passes and the like, plus even a small bin in front of the central affront armrest.
There’s plenty of space in the back for two tall adults. Headroom is good even if you add the optional panoramic glass roof, although three across will be a real squeeze for shoulder room, plus the protruding rear air-vents and a raised tunnel leave little legroom for a middle passenger. Still, you get a central rear armrest as standard, and the 60/40 split-folding seats fold flat easily.
There are bigger boots than the XC40’s in this class, of course. In fact you can get a Land Rover Discovery Sport for the same price as the Volvo and the Land Rover even offers a seven-seat layout, so is undoubtedly more practical.
For all that, up against the Range Rover Evoque, BMW X2 et al, the XC40 is one of the more spacious options. You’ll get a couple of lightweight buggies in the boot with no problem, and you can add a £350 Convenience Pack that brings a useful boot floor which doubles up as a partition or somewhere to strap your bags down. Even if you add the optional space saver spare tyre, which we’d certainly recommend you do, you still get hidden underfloor storage.
Standard equipment from launch:
Momentum models include Sensus nine-inch touchscreen control for multiple on-board functions and easy smartphone connectivity, satellite navigation, automatic LED headlights with Active High Beam, 18-inch alloy wheels with 235/60 T18 tyres and a dual-zone climate control system that monitors and maintains cabin air quality. Volvo On Call remote control and emergency assistance service is also provided as standard, together with keyless start, rear parking sensors, cruise control, automatic windscreen wipers and integrated roof rails.
R-Design models are identified by a Black Stone roof and door mirrors, high-gloss black grille, front and rear skid plates, roof rails and window frames, dark-tinted rear windows, integrated dual tailpipes, and alloy wheels with diamond-cut and matt-black finish. Inside, R-Design tread plates, black headlining, sports pedals and a perforated leather wrapping for the steering wheel and gearknob. Equipment features include leather and Nubuck upholstery, front seat cushion extensions and LED front foglights. The R-Design also gets more dynamic suspension settings than other XC40s, including stiffer springs, thicker anti-roll bars and faster-acting rear shock absorbers. 8-speed autos have paddled shifters
Inscription specification builds on Momentum grade with Driftwood cabin inlays, leather-faced upholstery, a power-adjustable driver's seat, ambient door and instrument panel lighting, and a powered tailgate. An Orrefors crystal glass inset to the gearshift lever on automatic versions. Front parking sensors, matt silver skid plates and chrome grille inserts are also part of the package.
First Edition is a limited run model based on R-Design Pro. It gains Intellisafe Pro Pack, Xenium pack, shift paddles, power tail gate, power driver's seat, heated rear outer seats, keyless drive, smartphone integration, Harmon Kardon premium sound, 19-inch alloy wheels with 235/50 R19 tyres, convenience pack, heated steering wheel, Tempa spare wheel, power passenger seat, autodimming exterior mirrors, handsfree tailgate opening, wireless phone charger, power child locks.
Pro versions of each grade introduce further comfort and convenience elements, including heated front seats, larger-diameter wheels (on R-Design Pro and Inscription Pro models), active bending headlights, LED front foglights with cornering function, and a heated windscreen. Inscription Pro models have 19-inch alloy wheels with 235/50 R19 tyres, R-Design Pro come on 20-inch alloy wheels with 245/45 R20 tyres.
Child seats that fit a Volvo XC40 (2018)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Volvo XC40 (2018) like to drive?
Comfort is a real strength of the XC40. Even on 19-inch or even 20-inch alloys and on the firmer suspension of R-Design trim, it soaks up the worst of the road’s scars and rarely loses its composure.
Notably, there’s no adaptive damper option as there is on many rivals. But that’s a good thing since the XC40 is very compliant as standard – and that’s without adding expensive adaptive dampers, as you need to do with many rivals, including the BMW X2. There’s a bit of body lean, of course, but nothing too pronounced and anyone after an SUV will be happy with the Volvo’s tidy handling.
The XC40 comes with a wide range of engines, starting with the T3 – a 156PS 1.5-litre, three-cylinder petrol model that has front-wheel drive and a manual gearbox, making it best for drivers expect to do fairly low mileage.
A 150PS 2.0-litre diesel D3 complete with front or four-wheel drive, and a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic, is the cheapest diesel option and is a great all-round option. It's responsive enough even on a high-speed motorway run, yet efficient and well-priced. Go for the auto if you possible can, as it makes it far more pleasant in the ebb-and-flow of any busy commute.
While the D3 is an excellent choice, high-mileage drivers probably won't regret spending the cash on the D4. It's a bit rumbly on start-up but soons quietens down at speed and makes for a very pleasant motorway cruiser with the feel of a much bigger car. The performance on offer helps with relaxed overtaking manoeuvres and good progress can be made without working the engine hard.
Every XC40 model above the D3 and T3 models gets Volvo’s four-wheel drive system and eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard. The automatic gearbox is very good to use, selecting the right gear the majority of the time and with little in the way of hesitancy. Our only gripe is the need to tug on the lever twice when moving from drive to reverse, although this is something you soon get used to.
Those wanting hot-hatch performance are catered for with the rather pokey 247PS 2.0-litre petrol T5. Sure, a BMW X2 handles with a touch more intensity, but the XC40 is so much more comfortable and is still good fun.
New for 2020 is a plug-in hybrid, badged the T5 Twin Engine. This pairs a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor to provide a combined 262PS. Officially it returns 141.1mpg although you'll have to charge it regularly to achieve this figure in the real world. Its claimed electric range of 28.4 miles will appeal to those who mainly cover local journeys, though.
Ultimately, you won’t find an XC40 that isn’t a pleasure to drive. Particularly if you have the eight-speed automatic gearbox that’s optional on lower models and standard on most of the range, it’s got a slick, natural fluidity to the way it drives which makes it satisfying whether you’re weaving through traffic or tackling the motorway.
|D3||58–59 mpg||8.2 s||127–131 g/km|
|D3 Automatic||55–57 mpg||8.2 s||132–136 g/km|
|D3 Automatic AWD||53–57 mpg||8.2 s||132–140 g/km|
|D3 AWD||51–52 mpg||8.2 s||142–146 g/km|
|D4 Automatic AWD||55 mpg||7.9 s||131–133 g/km|
|T3||42–43 mpg||7.8–9.3 s||144–146 g/km|
|T3 Automatic||-||9.6 s||140 g/km|
|T4 Automatic||-||8.4 s||154 g/km|
|T4 Automatic AWD||40–41 mpg||7.0 s||161–163 g/km|
|T5 Automatic||-||7.3 s||38 g/km|
|T5 Automatic AWD||38 mpg||6.5 s||164–168 g/km|
Real MPG average for a Volvo XC40 (2018)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
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