Volvo XC40 T3

Once Europe’s Car of the Year, it’s clear to see why this Swede is a winner

The Volvo XC40 has always been one of our favourite entry-exec SUVs. A deserved one time European Car of the Year, XC40 certainly earned that gong. But that’s a good few years back now, so how has age treated the stylish family favourite? It also turns out that we’d never driven the T3 version — let alone any Volvo with the company’s modular triple. Its basically a 2-litre 4-pot with cylinder lopped off, so we looked forward to this one.

Plays in a niche that never existed before

Launched into a niche that never really existed a few years ago, XC40 was one of several new pretenders to the chic crossover crown. It arrived almost simultaneously with them to do battle against the BMW X2, Jaguar E-Pace and Audi Q2 and plays on a field Volvo has not visited before. Which is by no means a disadvantage.

XC40 is understated – more a work of Swedish simplicity than another ostentatious take on some old sportscar. It doesn’t pretend to be anything else, nor does it need to. It simply goes about telling you that it’s a Volvo first and foremost. And that it’s a crossover at that. Or is that an SUV? Those boudaries blur more by the week.

Step inside and you’re immediately at home in a simple, yet superbly rendered cabin. I’m not a huge fan of a touch screen interface in its own right for practical reasons and Volvo’s once market leading set-up was quickly outdated and is now long in the tooth. Beyond that, which is nitpicking really, the XC40 is brilliant inside.

Feels bigger and more spacious

It feels bigger and more spacious and they’ve made a huge effort to make this car feel and look like something so contemporary without going over the top or missing the point. A great effort all round.

On the road, this T3 was gets on with it. Beyond that distant offbeat three-pot throb, you’d never believe that this was just a 1500. It’s as good as anything twice the size from fifteen years ago. And that includes the old Volvo fives and V6s. It has compatible performance a without the penalty of gluttony of petrol. Win-win? We’d say so. But that’s the downsized way of the world we live in these days.

The 110 W 265 Nm one-point-five triple drives the front wheels through an 8-speed autobox like all Volvos. XC40 tips the scales at 1650kg to deliver a hushed if solid ride, while fuel consumption is impressive. Look, it’s not going to win any drag races, but performance is beyond adequate and there are a few far more powerful models in the range, if speed and alacrity is all that important to you in a Volvo.

A kitchen sink full of options

But starting at R683K, it’s a lot of car. OK, this one packs a the kitchen sink in optional spec from power heated front seats to a climate pack with a heated steering wheel too, to a washed full LED bending light pack and a driver assistant upgrades. Add a lounge pack, panoramic roof and Harman Kardon sound and don’t forget those shiny grand-an-inch 20” wheels and metallic paint.

All of which adds R120K to the sticker to quickly soften any bargain sentiments. But that’s all nice to have, isn’t it?. Still, backed by a best in class warranty, XC40 undercuts most rivals in price too. And we still think it’s a pretty cool car.

Come to think of it, there’s damn good reason that this Volvo was once European Car of the Year. — Michele Lupini

ROAD TESTED: Volvo XC40 T3 Inscription
Engine: 110kW 265Nm 1.5-litre turbo petrol I3
Drive: 8-speed automatic FWD
0-60 km/h        4.57 sec
0-100 km/h       10.45 sec
0-120 km/h       14.59 sec
0-160 km/h       20.88 sec
400m             17.2 sec @ 130km/h
80-120km/h       7.41 sec
120-160km/h      12.83 sec
Vmax             180 km/h
Fuel             6.7 l/100km
CO2              154 g/km
Warranty/Service 5y 100K km/5y 100K km
PRICE:           R683K
RATED:           7
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