Volvo’s first compact SUV isn’t afraid to plough its own furrow. But can it edge the Volkswagen Tiguan in the compact SUV class?
Volvo has more or less accidentally discovered that it’s an SUV company. Perhaps that shouldn’t be a surprise, given that it’s a car maker founded on the virtues of strength and stability, but where once it was famed for its blocky, spacious estate cars, today those have given way to more dynamic-looking saloons and estates and the values of spaciousness and pragmatism are instead found more in its SUVs. Which is handy, given that 4x4s, crossovers or anything with a hint of rufty-tufty will likely find itself as one of the faster-growing and more profitable market segments there is.Having long offered an XC90 and XC60 but benefiting from a vast and rapid range renewal under Chinese owner Geely, Volvo has an SUV range that now accounts for more than half of all the cars it sells: the benchmark at which it accepts it is primarily a maker of 4x4s.Those two larger off-roaders are based on the same modular platform, which also underpins the S90 and V90, and continue the same theme – although with vastly more confidence – as the XC60 and XC90 always have.This new car, though, promises something different. The big-three German car makers have had this section of the market – the premium compact SUV sector – pretty much to themselves until now, with cars that ape their larger siblings. They’ll soon be joined by the Jaguar E-Pace and the DS 7 Crossback, too, but the XC40 joins this ever-growing market with a car that’s wilfully different from its larger stablemates. This is a younger market – both of itself, and in regards to the people who buy cars in it – so Volvo allowed its designers to cut a little more loosely when it came to sculpting this 4.4m-long vehicle.The XC40 will eventually be offered with three petrol and two diesel engines, and two-wheel or four-wheel drive, and with six trim levels, but from the off, you can get a well-loaded First Edition model. Our test car is one of those, powered by a 188bhp diesel and all-wheel drive. …read more