Road tests

New Volvo XC40 B3 MHEV 2023 review

The entry-level Volvo XC40 SUV gets a new powertrain and tech as part of revamp

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

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Ultimately, the updates to this newer XC40 aren’t that sizeable on the face of things, compared with its EV sibling. But by installing a new, noticeably more refined engine and a gearbox that’s a match for it, plus some newer, smarter technology, Volvo has kept the XC40 feeling fresh. It shows there’s life in petrol power yet (albeit with some electrification), but it’s a shame the XC40’s weaknesses are still apparent in this facelifted model.

While the big news surrounding Volvo’s XC40 compact SUV might focus on the Recharge full-EV model’s switch from front to rear-wheel drive, the Swedish brand has been quietly rolling out updates elsewhere in the combustion-engined line-up. One of the most interesting is the new entry-level B3 mild-hybrid version.

This 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol model replaces the previous 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbocharged car and brings with it much more refinement.

Whereas the three-cylinder unit hummed, this new four-cylinder B3 is much smoother and more subdued. The electric motor’s small 40Nm boost of torque means acceleration away from junctions is strong, with the refined combustion engine helping to propel the Volvo at a reasonable lick. Thanks to 160bhp and 265Nm of torque, the XC40 has plenty of performance for a small SUV, accelerating from 0-62mph in 8.6 seconds. We’d say that’s more than fast enough for most buyers’ needs and, along with its quieter engine, addresses one of our main issues with the older three-cylinder entry-level model.

That car was available with a manual gearbox, whereas this new B3 comes equipped with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. It, too, is smooth and means the XC40 is relaxed on the move. We can’t see a need for the more powerful B4 model, so with the B3 line-up starting from £35,895 and the B4 models kicking off at £40,520, we’d save a chunk of money and opt for the former.

One other XC40 weak point has been the ride, and while this newcomer is far from uncomfortable, there are small SUV rivals that offer a more composed, cosseting experience. It’s closer in feel to the latest BMW X1 in how it responds to bumps, but it lacks that car’s precision and dynamic ability. It’s not uncomfortable, though.

In fact, this XC40 characterises itself as a solid all-rounder, and the latest Google-powered infotainment helps on this front, too. The newer set-up is mounted in the same place as the original XC40’s nine-inch touchscreen, but the system’s responses and graphics are much sharper – plus the voice control is natural and, put simply, just works. The latest-generation 12-inch digital dashboard is also a nice touch and is included as standard across the range.

However, it’s not all good news, because our car’s very dark interior felt even tighter than it was in reality; space in the rear could be better compared with the more practical models in this class and, in general, the cabin could do with a bigger overhaul, even if quality is still able to cut it.

When it comes to boot space, a total of 443 litres is fine, but again, it’s far from class-leading when an Audi Q3 serves up a total of 530 litres – or up to 675 litres with the moveable bench seat slid forwards.

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Our Plus-trim car comes well equipped as standard, with the aforementioned list of Google-based tech and displays, 18-inch alloy wheels, a 360-degree camera, keyless entry, a hands-free powered tailgate, wireless phone charging and heated seats.

These are the kind of features you want without the superfluous stuff that often comes with option packs, so while the XC40 might be pricier than some of its rivals, with plenty of power and lots of features, it actually represents strong value for money. And with claimed economy of more than 40mpg, the new Volvo should be relatively affordable to run, too.

Model: Volvo XC40 B3 Plus
Price: £40,030
Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo petrol
Power/torque: 160bhp/265Nm
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch auto, front-wheel drive 
0-62mph: 8.6 seconds
Top speed: 112mph
Economy: 42.2mpg
CO2: 151g/km
On sale: Now

Sean’s been writing about cars since 2010, having worked for outlets as diverse as PistonHeads, MSN Cars, Which? Cars, Race Tech – a specialist motorsport publication – and most recently Auto Express and sister titles Carbuyer and DrivingElectric

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