Volvo has just taken the covers off its smallest SUV, the new XC40. It is the first model to be built on the Swedish manufacturer's new Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) platform.
The XC40, which sits below the new XC60 and larger XC90 as the third model in Volvo's SUV line-up, is being launched into a booming market segment.
Work on the new CMA platform – which will underpin at least two other Volvos as well as future models from Chinese parent company Geely’s Lynk & Co sub-brand – started in 2013 and necessitated the recruitment of hundreds
of engineers. The XC40 shares a strong family resemblance with the bigger XC60and XC90, but Volvo says the design brief was to create a car that looked like more than a smaller sibling.
The exterior design is the work of young British designer Ian Kettle and incorporates both a clamshell bonnet and a distinctive upswept rear window. It avoids the low-roofed crossover-coupé look in order to target the younger buyers who Volvo says are looking for practicality as well as style. At 4425mm in length, the XC40 is a sizeable 263mm shorter than the XC60, but it is just 3mm lower and sits on a 2702mm wheelbase. Kettle says he wanted to create a car that looked like a “tough little robot”. Sizeable wheels will be standard, with 17in being the base fitment although most versions will ride on on 18in or 19in rims, with up to 21in available as an option.
Inside, the XC40 is more radical. Volvo will fit a 12.3in thin-film transistor (TFT) instrument display as standard, as well as a 9in touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard in a portrait configuration – the same system fitted to the bigger XC60. Connectivity will be comprehensive, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard on all versions. However, despite pitching it as a premium product, Volvo is not using conventional 'luxury' materials, with trim including felt for door pockets and textured plastic in place of the more traditional wood or metal panels. In the pre-production cars we saw, this included a dashboard front
with an embossed pattern based on a street map of Gothenburg.
Stowage space is generous and includes a pop-out rubbish bin between the seats and exceptionally capacious door pockets, with extra space created by the repositioning of the low-mounted speakers. Instead, the audio system uses a woofer within the dashboard to create low frequencies, accompanied by high-mounted tweeters. Boot space of 460 litres with the rear seats in place means a bigger boot than the Range Rover Evoque, with a lifting floor incorporating both hidden storage and a compartment to stow the parcel shelf when removed. Space is generous for those in the front and reasonable in the rear, although the heavily upswept side window profile will make it hard for smaller occupants to see out.
Underneath, the XC40’s engineering is almost entirely conventional. The clever part of CMA is how adaptable it is for cars of different sizes and using different powertrains. The bodyshell uses steel rather than any expensive alloys, with MacPherson strut suspension at the front and a multi-link rear axle.
Two powertrains will be available from launch in the UK, both using turbocharged 2.0-litre engines and numbered according to Volvo’s established power principle. The range-topping T5 petrol will have 250hp and 350Nm and the D4 diesel will have 190hp, both getting all-wheel drive through a part-time Haldex system and an eight-speed autobox as standard. Front-wheel drive and manual gearbox versions will follow shortly, as will less powerful engines. We will have to wait longer for the innovative three-cylinder hybrid powertrain that Volvo confirmed last year, and the company says that an electric version is on the cards.
As you would expect for something wearing a Volvo badge, safety equipment will be comprehensive and give the smaller car a similar level of protection to the XC90. All XC40s have an active collision avoidance system that works at up to 64kph, including an oncoming lane mitigation feature that will intervene to steer the car back onto the correct side of the road if it spots an impending head-on collision. An optional enhanced IntelliSafe system will include semi-autonomous piloted cruise control that can work at up to 130kph, as well as a cross-traffic alert system capable of braking in the face of danger.
The new XC40 SUV will take on the likes of the Mercedes GLA, the Range Rover Evoque and the Audi Q3. It will be safe to expect Volvo to bring this new SUV to our shores later next year.
Also see: 2017 Volvo XC40 image gallery