Volvo XC40 has

everything right

Volvo XC40 First Edition, 2018, front, action
Volvo XC40 First Edition, 2018, front, static
Volvo XC40 First Edition, 2018, side, action
Volvo XC40 First Edition, 2018, rear, static
Volvo XC40 First Edition, 2018, rear
Volvo XC40 First Edition, 2018, interior
Volvo XC40 First Edition, 2018, boot, underfloor
Volvo XC40 First Edition, 2018, boot
Volvo XC40 First Edition, 2018, door trim
Volvo XC40 First Edition, 2018, console bin
Volvo XC40 First Edition, 2018, rear seats
Volvo XC40 First Edition, 2018, badge

SOMETIMES a car comes along that's right on the button and the Volvo XC40 is one of those.

As a compact SUV it's in the boom zone of the market, as a Volvo it's got just the right image and as a car it's just been voted the best in Europe.

And that's just for starters. Eventually, it will be the first Volvo to feature a three-cylinder petrol engine as well as being available as a pure electric model and - if you live in London - it will spearhead a new way of car ownership.

For the time being, the XC40 will be arriving in Britain as a high powered T5 petrol model or a D4 diesel, both four-wheel-drive and in special First Edition trim which is crammed with kit.

They cost from £39,305 for the diesel and £40,005 for the T5 but when the three-cylinder 1.5-litre T3 arrives later in the year the XC40 line up will be priced from £27,905.

Compared to the likes of the Audi A3, Range Rover Evoque and the new Jaguar E-PACE that positions the Volvo well and it is hugely impressive as a premium-grade crossover.

The First Edition models sit on 19-inch alloys which set off its looks in no uncertain fashion.

As part of Volvo's SUV family the XC40 is styled very much as a scaled-down version of the XC60 and XC90 models and that's no bad thing.

LED lights front and rear and a jewel-like studded grille are handsome touches and so are the two-tone paint jobs available on the First Editions.

Wheel arch and sill protectors are SUV prerequisites and Volvo has given them some emphasis with pronounced body cuts which stretch across the bottoms of the doors.

And like the larger XC models, the XC40 is as safe as houses with everything from large animal detectors to systems designed to steer the car away from oncoming traffic standard across the range.

The only options on the safety front are blind spot monitors and some rear traffic sensors which cost an extra £500 but are already included on the First Edition cars.

In fact Volvo has really pushed the boat out for the XC40 fanfare fitting the First Edition with virtually everything imaginable and that ranges from a high end Harman Kardon sound system to a semi-autonomous drive system.

Having just sampled both T5 and D4 variants they impress on all fronts. Both have eight-speed auto boxes allied to paddle-shift gearchangers and neither is lacking on the power front.

The T5 has 247bhp on tap which endows it with a 0 to 60 time of under 6.5 seconds and a top end of 140mph. The D4 at 190bhp is not quite as rapid but has more mid-range pull and while its around a second slower 0 to 60 and is 10mph shy on the top end, there's little between the two in everyday use.

Select sport mode and both are very lively indeed and for an SUV the XC40 handles well.

The telling difference is fuel consumption with the diesel rated at 55.4mpg with emissions of 136g/km and the T5 39.2 with a CO2 figure of 168g/km.

We managed to average 32 to the gallon in the T5 and just under 44mpg in the diesel - enough to swing the balance in favour of the latter.

Volvo's all-wheel-drive system is automatic and cuts in only when necessary, although it can be locked in where it also engages hill descent control and remaps the power output for optimum traction at low speeds.

For a compact SUV it is quite capable and has a towing limit of 2.1 tonnes.

Cabin refinement is of a high order with a studded trim effect across the dash and carpet-like coverings on the insides of the doors.

There's also a good amount of onboard storage with larger than average door pockets achieved by fitting the audio speakers in the dash where the XC40 boasts a world first in having an air-ventilated sub-woofer within the facia.

Connectivity is via Volvo's Sensus system which includes a nine-inch tablet-style touchscreen, full smartphone compatibility and enough Wi-Fi power to connect eight devices.

There's also a wireless phone charging pad in the centre console where another little touch is an integrated waste bin.

And if that's not enough on the creature comfort front, the XC40 has a 460 litre boot complete with shopping bag restraints and an adjustable floor height and a maximum stowage capacity of 1,338 litres.

Volvo has big plans for the XC40 and not only will it feature the company's first three-pot engine in the T3, it will also become the Swedish brand's first battery-electric vehicle to go on general sale. A plug-in hybrid is also planned.

And as well as being on release from Volvo dealerships the XC40 is also the first model to be included in the Care by Volvo programme - a £629 a month deposit free subscription service where everything other than fuel is included.

At the moment the scheme is operational only within the M25 circle but Volvo intends to roll it out to other cities in due course.

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