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MotorBar - New Car Reviews
Volvo XC40 T3 R-Design

Click to view picture gallery“European Car of the Year 2018,
  Volvo
s XC40 launched with 2.0-litre
  diesel and petrol engines
but now
  you can have one of the Swedish
  brand
s highly-praised compact
  SUVs with a 1.5-litre petrol engine
  under the bonnet ...”


THIS WELCOME NEW ADDITION to the XC40 line-up is badged 'T3' — meaning what you'll find under the bonnet is a three-pot powerplant. Not that that's a problem because it musters 1.5 litres and puts out a very meaningful 153bhp allied to a muscular 195lb ft of torque.

Its handsomely rugged, minimalist lines make it instantly recognisable even in a car park packed with upscale SUVs. While its big brothers the XC60 and XC90 are themselves fresh enough to appeal to a younger demographic, with its slim clamshell bonnet, upright grille bookcased by 'Thor's Hammer' daytime running lights, sculptured flanks capped by a black glasshouse and swept-up glazing over the rear haunches, the XC40 epitomise the hip, high-riding Sports Ute look and has enough street cred to face-down the likes of a BMW, Jaguar or Mercedes.

“The XC40’s handsomely
rugged and minimalist
lines and swept-up
glazing over the rear
haunches epitomise the
hip, high-riding
Sports Ute look and
give it enough street
cred to face down
the likes of a BMW,
Jaguar or Mercedes...”
Despite measuring a sensible 4.3 metres in length, the XC40's cabin is nevertheless a spacious piece of real estate. Open the door and you immediately know that this is a Volvo: great seats, beautifully upholstered in quality Charcoal leather and Nubuck 'suede', and the by-now trademark large portrait-format, tablet-style touchscreen at the heart of the dash and centre stack.

The plush cabin ambiance is as classy as any premium rival you care to name whether it begins with an 'A', 'B', 'J', 'L' or 'M-B' and majors on impeccable Scandi flair boosted by upmarket trim and materials that in combination make the delightfully uncluttered cabin a ritzy place to spend time.

Detail features are many but worth a mention are the sleek vertical air vents either side of the infotainment screen, the 'must touch' 3D-patterned decorative foil trim, and the compact, very grippy and nicely meaty steering wheel with big, no-messing multifunction buttons.

The first-rate design ethos extends to the Comms equipment starting with the crystal clear central nine-inch infotainment touchscreen via which your fingertip controls most functions that once required buttons and switches, from the infotainment to the climate and connectivity features.

Even technophobes will find the system and logical menus very easy to fathom and agreeably intuitive. However, there is a fallback voice control. So if you're concerned about tapping a screen whilst driving you can manage the phone, radio, media, navigation, and climate by speaking your commands aloud.

And there's more über-useful high-tech stuff; namely the brilliant and customisable 12.3-inch TFT driver display. This offers you four layout choices including an active mapping background with smaller 'dials' so you can simultaneously display live infotainment, media or phone menus on the central screen. In practise this dual screen set-up works admirably and makes navigation both non-distracting and laughably easy. Also worth their weight in gold are the road sign, speed limit and speed camera warnings and alerts.

“All body shapes will
find the seating a real
pleasure; soft-to-the-touch leather and suede
with sporty-looking
and effective bolstering
and support in all the
right places ensure even
the longest trips are
completed in comfort.
Best of all are the
commanding views:
unhindered all-round
visibility and you can
see the bonnet and
the front wings...”
The integrated SatNav comes with full European mapping (let's face it, even post-Brexit you'll still need it) with live traffic information, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone linkage plus access to a wealth of apps, DAB radio, Bluetooth handsfree, and Volvo On Call for roadside and SOS assistance along with a remote control app for accessing various car functions via a smartphone, smartwatch or tablet.

Coming back to the driver's place in all this, all body shapes will find the seating a real pleasure; soft-to-the-touch facings with sporty-looking and effective bolstering and support in all the right places ensure even the longest trips are completed in comfort. Fast-to-warm three-stage heating makes everything better, as does power-adjustable lumbar support. Best of all are the commanding views: unhindered all-round visibility — and, unlike too may cars, you can actually see the XC40's bonnet and front wings.

In a monetary sense the £27,350 T3 Momentum (trim levels are Momentum, Momentum Pro, R-Design, R-Design Pro, Inscription, and Inscription Pro) is the range's entry-level model but in R-Design spec (£29,460) it comes exceedingly well equipped.

Included are a comprehensive suite of safety features with City Safety (pedestrian, cyclist, and large animal detection plus front collision warning with full automatic emergency braking, including at junctions), Oncoming Lane Mitigation (automatically provides steering assistance if you unwittingly drift out of your lane, guiding you back and out of the path of any oncoming vehicles), multiple airbags and inflatable curtains with an extra airbag for the driver's knee, road sign information display, a stability and traction control, hill descent control, and a sports chassis.

The list goes on: keyless start, two-zone climate control (with CleanZone air quality system, pollen filter and cooled glovebox), electric parking brake with autohold (a real help in heavy stop-start traffic), multiple drive mode settings, automatic LED headlights with active dip/main beam switching (very quick-acting and indispensable for safer and more relaxing night-time driving), powerfolding heated door mirrors, parking sensors, four one-shot power windows, extending front seat-base cushions, tinted glass, automatic drive-off door locking, frameless auto-dimming rearview mirror, height-adjustable front seatbelts, alloy pedal set, and 18-inch alloy wheels.

One of the reasons
the XC40 has become so
popular so quickly is
down to the amiable
driving experience it
serves up whether you
re
pressing on or just
going with the flow.
From behind the wheel

its very easy to place
accurately, and quick to
respond; it whips round
corners and through
bends confidently
and with minimal body
lean...”
Our press car was fitted with a number of options that lifted the price to £36K — and what a lot you get for the extra £6K: power-folding rear seats and headrests, panoramic glass tilt 'n' slide sunroof, 360-degree surround-view parking camera, automatic parallel and 90-degree parking jockey, three-stage heated front seats, auto-dimming door mirrors with auto-folding feature, heated windscreen, blind spot warning, Cross Traffic Alert with autobraking, Rear Collision Mitigation, powered hands-free tailgate opening and closing, Harman Kardon Premium Sound system, full keyless entry and locking, powered front seats (driver's with a two-setting seat and mirror memory recall), smartphone integration with WiFi mobile phone charging, and 19-inch diamond-cut/matt black alloy wheels.

One of the reasons the XC40 has become so popular so quickly is undoubtedly down to the amiable driving experience it serves up whether you're pressing on or just going with the flow. From behind the wheel it's very easy to place accurately, and quick to respond; it whips round corners and through bends confidently and with minimal body lean and when you need to scrub speed it does so without a hint of drama.

R-Design models come with a sports chassis along with five driver-selected modes (Comfort, Dynamic, Eco, Off Road, and Individual) and even in two-wheel, front-wheel drive guise it feels as poised and reassuring along back lanes and byways as it does cruising motorways. And adding to the satisfaction of keeping the momentum flowing smoothly is the three-pot's easily called-up muscular torque.

While the T3 comes configured as standard with FWD, all-wheel drive is standard-fit on the more powerful petrol T4 and T5 versions as well as on the D4 diesel (it's optional on the D3). Not that that stops the front-wheel driven T3 tackling the rough stuff with 205mm of ground clearance it will wade through water 450mm deep.

The 1.5 three-pot is partnered with a manual 'box and they make a good team. On the move the petrol engine has more than enough stamina for mixing it with traffic as well as the pace for smooth cruising; and it's surprisingly quiet and refined despite having to move around a sizeable SUV body stuffed with luxury fittings.

Fortunately there's 195lb ft on tap from 1,850-3,850rpm more than you'd expect from a 153bhp petrol engine. Making best use of the six gears (via the clean-changing 'stick' shift) delivers peppy driveability and sees 0-62mph done and dusted in 9.4 seconds. A hard week's driving saw 39.8mpg (44.8 is the official combined figure) but we don't mollycoddle our test cars so everyday drivers should expect to see the smiley side of 40mpg.

The 1.5 three-pot is
partnered with a manual
’box and they make a
good team. On the move
the petrol engine has
more than enough
stamina for mixing it
with traffic as well as
the pace for smooth
cruising; and it’s
surprisingly quiet and
refined despite having to
move around a sizeable
SUV body stuffed with
luxury fittings...”
Complementing rather than handicapping the handling is a ride that's fluent and agreeably comfortable even when rolling on 19-inch wheels over the UK's pockmarked and potholed blacktop. The settled body and über-comfy and supportive seats guarantee a thumb's up from passengers who can lean back and soak up the only sounds worth hearing in the soothingly quiet cabin those emanating from the Harman Kardon speakers.

A brace of adults can travel harmoniously in the back (three is perfectly doable although in real-life three youngsters or teens will likely be the ones sprawled across the second row); generous headroom is fine, as too is foot- and leg-room and, although technically a 'compact' SUV, there's no compromising passenger room which is spacious enough to prove very restful on long trips. Views out are kept interesting thanks to rear seats that sit you higher than those seated ahead of you, and generous side window glazing.

Back-seat passengers also enjoy their own air vents, a wide padded central armrest with three built-in cupholders that outer-seat occupants won't object to sharing, deep bottle-holding bins, oddment trays, accommodating magazine pouches and a handy USB charging point.

With five doors and five seats you'll be expecting a fair-sized boot for five lots of luggage the XC40 doesn't let you down; it will accommodate 460 litres behind the rear backrests when loaded under the luggage cover to the widow line (stacking to the roof increases capacity to 586 litres). More good news: the deep and no-nonsense boot is accessed easily through a generous-sized tailgate.

Plus there's some extra storage to be had below the floor (alternatively, use it to add a few extra inches to the cargo height). For the record, the optional handsfree powered tailgate opening and closing operated from the driver's seat or from anywhere outside the car using the key fob works satisfyingly fast.

For segregating cargo the boot floor can be divided up into two separate areas. Another thoughtful touch: the XC40 has a dedicated out-of-the-way stowage well for the luggage blind. And there's also a load-through hatch that makes easy work of carrying skis and suchlike. For bulkier loads, fold down the 60:40-split rear seats and you'll free-up more cargo bay space an impressive flat-floored 1,336 litres of it. Should you need to haul heavier stuff then the 1.5 T3 can tow a braked 1,600kg.

Externally its street cred marks out Volvo's compact SUV from the herd while inside it takes the cake for its stylish Scandi cockpit. And not only is driving solo satisfying, but so too is the daily commute, while it's also perfectly accommodating for family trips or those adventurous weekend breaks. A real pleasure to own, to live with, and to drive. ~ MotorBar
.
Volvo XC40 T3 R-Design | £29,460
Maximum speed: 124mph | 0-62mph: 9.4 seconds | Test Average: 39.8mpg
Power: 153bhp | Torque: 195lb ft | CO2: 146g/km

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