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In-depth reviews

Volvo XC40 - Engines, performance and drive

The Volvo XC40 majors on comfort and refinement instead of driving entertainment

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Engines, performance and drive Rating

4.0 out of 5

Price
£36,625 to £46,275
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The Volvo XC40 is the first model from the Swedish brand to sit on the Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) underpinnings. This uses MacPherson strut suspension at the front and a multi-link rear axle, matching its German rivals for chassis technology under the skin. However, if you’re looking for dynamic sparkle and hot hatchback-rivalling agility down a country road, you’ll be better off elsewhere.

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The XC40 strikes a nice balance between composure and comfort that’ll appeal to most buyers of small SUVs. It can get caught out on pockmarked and potholed city streets, particularly at low speeds and on larger wheels. We expect a Core model on 18-inch wheels to demonstrate a bit more compliance in this regard, because Ultra models fitted with 20-inch alloy wheels feel firm on typically bumpy UK roads.

The XC40 does a good job of soaking up road imperfections at high speeds, where the chassis deals with more flowing undulations well, but sharper bumps can still be jarring, whereas a BMW X1 smothers imperfections a little more adeptly. You’ll occasionally notice a slight floating effect, but it never strays to the point of making you seasick.

It wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect such a generally wafty small SUV to be boat-like in corners, but the XC40 stays composed, even when required to perform a sudden, rapid change of direction. It’s not as involving as the sharper X1, but it performs admirably well for a tall SUV with a relatively short wheelbase.

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The steering adds to the experience because it’s nicely weighted and pleasingly direct, while the well-judged chassis set-up and decent grip level mean that you’ll have confidence tackling a twisty B road in an XC40. 

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You probably won’t make use of the manual override for the standard seven-speed automatic, though. The XC40 doen’t get shift paddles behind the steering wheel like most of its rivals, so you have to utilise the stubby gear lever instead. It operates in a side-to-side motion, with left being to shift up, and right to change down. Like us, we suspect you’ll just leave it in ‘D’ because the set-up isn’t very intuitive.

0-62mph acceleration and top speed

The XC40 is offered with two mild-hybrid engines, both of which power the front wheels The range starts with the B3 four-cylinder petrol, producing 161bhp. It manages the 0-62mph dash in 8.6 seconds, while stepping up to the 194bhp B4 version trims a full second off the sprint time. All engines are limited to a top speed of 112mph. 

Buyers looking for all-electric power have two versions of the Single Motor model to choose from, both of which are rear-wheel drive. Those who need four-wheel drive can go for the Twin Motor EX40. The standard Single Motor version produces 235bhp, and takes 7.3 seconds to reach 62mph from a standstill. The slightly more powerful 249bhp Single Motor Extended Range has the same acceleration time due to the heavier battery pack counteracting its power increase.

The quickest EX40 is the Twin Motor, which pumps out 402bhp and races to 62mph in just 4.8 seconds.

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Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.5 T2 Momentum Core 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £25,000

Most Economical

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    1.5 T4 RC PHEV Inscription Expression 5dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £37,045

Fastest

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    2.0 B5P R DESIGN 5dr AWD Auto
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    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £36,625
News reporter

As our news reporter, Ellis is responsible for covering everything new and exciting in the motoring world, from quirky quadricycles to luxury MPVs. He was previously the content editor for DrivingElectric and won the Newspress Automotive Journalist Rising Star award in 2022.

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