Johannesburg - Having spent some quality time with our Volvo XC40 T4 long-term test car since it arrived in early September, we’ve come to appreciate many aspects of this underrated premium SUV and among these is its overall practicality.
The XC40 doesn't really look all that big in pictures, thanks to its clamshell bonnet and chunky silhouette with upward tapering window lines. But up close and personal, it’s actually a lot more imposing than you’d expect. In fact in the last two months I’ve heard two people comment that it’s “big”. One of these was a friend in an older part of town and I concurred after trying to squeeze it into an off-street garage that was probably designed for Model T Fords.
If we have to take out the virtual tape measure, the Volvo XC40 is 4 425mm long, which makes it similar in length to a BMW X1 and Toyota Corolla Cross, but the Swedish SUV is actually somewhat wider than other vehicles of similar length, at 1 863mm, while its 2 702mm wheelbase is also more generous than you’d expect in its size category.
The result of this, of course, is a roomy interior. Sitting behind my driving position, there is a lot of leg space to stretch out, and the headroom for my average sized frame was more than sufficient. The XC40 is big enough to be a family car. The only thing I would wish for in this regard, are rear seats that recline so that back seat passengers could take a comfortable nap on longer journeys. At least the seats are impressively comfortable.
What’s more, the 450 litre load volume should meet most needs; it has a split level floor so that the rear seats can fold flat, but unfortunately the upper floor does not appear to be removable, although it does partially fold away.
Our XC40 Inscription model gets full marks for interior aesthetics, especially thanks to its driftwood interior trim inlays, Amber leather seat upholstery and Orrefors crystal glass gear selector.
It does fall a bit behind on ergonomics though, with the central touchscreen’s features being spread out over three pages. You do become accustomed to it, but it’s not as user friendly as most modern touchscreen set-ups where there’s a central menu. Hopefully Volvo’s upcoming Android infotainment systems will be more user friendly than this.
Watch this space on IOL for our long-term wrap up story and long distance road trip review, which will be published in late December.
Volvo XC40 T4 Inscription
Engine: 2.0-litre, 4-cyl, turbopetrol
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive: Front-wheel drive
Power: 140kW @ 5 000rpm
Torque: 300Nm @ 1 700-4 000rpm
Fuel use: 7.5 l/100km (claimed)
Warranty: 5-year/100 000km
Maintenance plan: 5-year/100 000km
Price: R728 300