In line with their global plan to completely shifting to petrol offerings, Volvo brought in the XC40 T4 last month. We drive it to find out if it is as impressive as the diesel counterpart
Volvo has already announced that they would soon stop selling diesel-powered cars in the interest of a greener future. While that is definitely the way going forward, it’s a long way before India reaches that end goal. In our market, the demand for diesel is still high – even in the luxury car space. It doesn’t come as a surprise then, that Volvo’s entire line-up, this side of the XC90 has always had just diesel engines on offer – that’s until they launched the XC40 T4 last month. We are in sunny Goa to find out if it is a worthy alternative to its diesel counterpart.
Volvo’s design engineers seem to have a magic pencil given how consistently they have been coming out with stunning designs. The XC90 set new benchmarks in the elegance and luxury when it was first launched and the Volvo followed it up well with the S90 and the XC60. But for my part, I think the XC40 is not only the best so far from the Swedish carmaker but also a perfect expression of what a modern-day SUV should look like. It is tightly packed, sporty and SUV-ish in the right proportions. Above all, although it is a derivative of Volvo’s family design language, the XC40 has its own identity.
Just like on the outside, the interior too is contemporary and tech-laden. The first thing you’d notice is the familiarity with the rest of the Volvo line-up. The steering wheel, tablet-like central touchscreen as well as the vertically stacked air-con vents have all been borrowed from the more expensive Volvos. Buttons and knobs are all made from high quality materials and have a very likeable feel. Soft touch materials used for the upper half of the dash make it feel premium, but the plastics in the lower half are coarse. Front seats are well bolstered and comfortable but the rear is a bit too upright for our liking. The biggest let-down for me, however, was that the T4 interior trim. We loved the diesel XC40 for its contrast carpets and door pads, but this T4 only comes draped in black. This not only makes the cabin feel less lively, but also lowers the sense of space.
In the international market, the XC40 is offered with three petrol engine options – T3 with a 1.5-litre 3-cylinder motor, and the T4 and T5, both of which come with a 2.0-litre but produce 188bhp and 248bhp respectively. Volvo has taken the mid-way route for India and brought in the T4 with the front-wheel drive configuration. Drive the T4 and a few things are quite apparent. It surely doesn’t feel as quick as the petrol-powered BMW X1, but power delivery is quite linear. Its 300Nm of torque kicks in as low as 1,750rpm to ensure that the motor doesn’t at any point feel lethargic. The engine is refined for the most part and quite noiseless too – at least until you go hard on the throttle. At higher revs, it does get a bit noisy inside the cabin but it isn’t all that unpleasant. Like in the diesel versions, the XC40’s 8-speed transmission doesn’t quite feel the quickest out there. While it shifts smoothly, it lacks the eagerness that the BMW’s ZF transmissions exhibit. While that is something that you can come to terms with, the strangest thing about the XC40’s transmission is the sideways shifting manual override. It just doesn’t feel natural. Fortunately, the XC40 comes with paddles and you can choose not to use the stick shifter.
Ride and Handling:
Volvo has set really high standards in the ride quality department with the larger XC offerings but it must be noted that they sit on air suspension while this baby XC sits on steel springs. Despite that, the XC40 gives no reason to complain while driving on less than perfect roads. High-speed stability is impressive and vertical movement is well controlled too. Unlike the diesel iteration, the T4 is front-wheel driven and owing to that there is a bit of understeer around twisty roads. The feedback from the steering wheels could have been better too. Although not the most fun car in its class, the XC40 remains quite predictable.
We have been impressed with the XC40 ever since we first got our hands on it in 2018. In fact, in our best of 2018 awards, the diesel-powered XC40 managed to clock a faster lap time than the C-Class, S-Class and even the over 550bhp G63. Given the performance of the diesel, the T4 had a rep to protect and we are happy to report that it doesn’t disappoint. In fact, despite making the same power figures and lower torque than the diesel, it feels amply spirited. Sure, it isn’t as lively as the X1, but it more than makes it up in other aspects. If you are looking for an entry-level SUV which looks fantastic, is packed with features and offers supreme ride quality, the XC40 has all of it in equal measure. The XC40 then - in both its petrol and diesel iterations – as a package is hard to beat.
- Volvo XC40 T4
Engine: 1,969cc / 4-cylinder / 16-valves / turbocharged
Transmission: 8-Speed automatic / Front-Wheel Drive
Power: 187bhp @ 4,000rpm
Torque: 300Nm @ 1,750rpm
Price: ₹ 39.90 lakh (Ex-Showroom)
X-factor: Quirky, refined and plush, the XC40 is a great rendering of a compact luxury SUV.
• Ride quality
• Stunning design
• Rear seat comfort
• Steering feedback