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Motoring: Practical and rare: The 2019 Volvo XC40 R-Design


The 2019 Volvo XC40 R-Design may not be the most exciting or cheapest vehicle, but being practical and rare might make someone interested in purchasing it.

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | November 30th, 2018

Back in 2002, Volvo introduced their first ever SUV called the XC90. It was an instant success and it encouraged the Swedish auto manufacturer to follow it up with a slightly smaller SUV, the XC60, which hit the market in 2008.

Both the XC60 and the XC90 have proven to be very successful models for Volvo and as a result, prompted this Gothenburg-based company, now owned by China, to start thinking even smaller.

It took them 10 years since the launch of the XC60, to come up with the XC40, but it is now finally here. However, what’s it like? Well, let’s take a closer look to answer that question.

Styling: Volvo has been coming out with interesting designs for the last few years and the XC40 is no exception. The XC40 doesn’t look like a conventional SUV. It has simple, clean lines, that are reminiscent of stuff you see at IKEA. Since both companies are Swedish, that should not come as a surprise.

This sport ute from Volvo (especially in the sporty R-Design trim) really turned heads wherever it went and it seemed like most people approved of its looks, so do I.

Interior: Step inside and you’ll find that the interior is a decent place to spend time in, just not extraordinary. It has the same touchscreen infotainment system found in other current Volvo models and you also get the same double tap transmission selector; however, the ‘start-stop’ button is different and so is the ‘drive mode’ selector switch. This is minor, but a noticeable difference between this entry-level Volvo and the more premium models.

The interior design is fine and everything is fairly easy to reach. I rated the seats as “OK,” but not great. However, the leg room for front and rear seats is actually better than most in its class, plus it has a decent sized trunk. The XC40 might not look big, but trust me, it can swallow a lot of cargo and people.

Powertrain: Under the hood, only one specification is currently available and it is a decent one. Open its clamshell hood and you’ll find a turbocharged 2.0 litres four-cylinder motor that produces 248 horsepower and 258 pounds per foot of torque. Power is fed to all wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

This is not a fast vehicle, but it’ll hum along just fine. The only irritating bit was its engine stop-start feature at traffic lights, which was not smooth by any means.

Driving Dynamics: Volvo has made many vehicles in its history that have been true driver’s cars, but the XC40 is not one of them. It is not exciting, neither in the city, the highway, or back roads. It is, however, comfortable and practical, meaning it will appeal to those who have chores to do on a daily basis. It will also appeal to those who value safety, because like every other Volvo model, it is packed with safety features such as blind spot monitoring, forward collision alert, lane keep assist, etc. In short, if there is a safety feature out there, this XC40 has it.

For some, an added dose of performance would be welcomed, to liven up the driving experience.

Fuel Economy: I thought that since the XC40 is not fun to drive and has the start-stop function, it would sip gas, but it didn’t. I averaged 10.5 litres per 100 kilometres during my test week and that isn’t great. Couple that with the fact that it likes to drink premium fuel, this is not a cheap vehicle to run.

Pricing: Base price for the XC40 in Canada is $40,300. That puts it in line with competition from Audi and BMW, so the Volvo is not a bargain.

Verdict: Volvo’s first foray into the compact luxury SUV segment is safe, practical, and stylish; but it is not fun to drive, nor cheap to run, or a bargain to buy. However, if you want a vehicle that is not a common sight, then the XC40 will appeal to you, and that is sometimes enough for some potential clients.
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