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Small Premium SUV of the Year 2018: Volvo XC40

The Volvo XC40 is the 2018 Auto Express Small Premium SUV of the Year, with the BMW X1 and MINI Countryman commended

Volvo has taken a ‘comfort first’ approach to its vehicles ever since the XC90 was reborn, and the company has continued that train of thought through to the XC40, even though it’s based on a completely new platform.

The Swedish brand has scaled down what made its larger premium SUVs, the XC90 and XC60, so successful and added all of its know-how to create a more affordable, well-proportioned and practical five-seat SUV.

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As you would expect, the XC40 comes loaded with all the latest safety kit, making it a great family car, while the high-quality and individual interior, with its raft of advanced equipment, gives the SUV genuine premium appeal.

There’s a wide spread of powertrain options, from the economical D3 diesel to the powerful T5 petrol. It’s available with a smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox, and four-wheel drive is offered on some models as well.

The XC40 is also hushed at speed, delivering excellent cruising refinement, and while the soft suspension has been tuned for a compliant ride, the car handles well for an SUV.

Nevertheless, the first thing you notice when you climb aboard is how well built the XC40 is compared with its rivals. Volvo’s clever portrait touchscreen infotainment system takes pride of place in the dashboard, and it’s offered with tech including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A powerful Harman Kardon stereo features on the long list of options as well.

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The XC40 doesn’t boast the largest load bay in its class, but there’s more than enough space for a family’s weekend luggage. That’s because the 460-litre boot features an impressively flat floor, with no lip at the front edge, so it’s easy to slide heavier items in there. 

Our choice 

Volvo XC40 Momentum D3 manual (£29,010)

In entry-level Momentum trim, the XC40 comes with all the equipment you’ll need, including 18-inch alloy wheels, cruise control and satellite navigation using a nine-inch touchscreen display. Also, as you would expect from Volvo, there’s an impressive amount of safety technology. 

Commended

BMW X1

BMW X1 - front action

The BMW X1 is among the best cars in its class to drive, but there’s no sacrifice to be made when it comes to ride comfort. It’s also spacious and practical, and is available with petrol and diesel options plus two and four-wheel-drive variants, so there’s lots of choice in the range.

MINI Countryman

MINI Countryman - front

The core of the MINI Countryman’s appeal is its funky image, stylish design and huge customisation potential, but there’s substance to back that up. The MINI serves up an excellent ride and handling balance, with a sense of fun that you simply don’t find in many SUVs.

Auto Express New Car Awards 2018

For complete, in-depth coverage of the 2018 New Car Awards, buy your collector's edition copy of the Auto Express magazine now or click here to subscribe...

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