Volvo XC40 review - Interior, design and technology
Bags of Swedish cool, with a clean, uncluttered design that still manages to incorporate some useful practical touches
Volvo has deliberately moved the XC40 away from the more luxurious, grown-up presence offered by the larger XC60 and XC90 models – but that doesn’t mean there’s no scope for impressive design touches or the latest technology. Quite the opposite, in fact.
The car’s styling was inspired by small robots that the British designer, Ian Kettle, saw in science-fiction movies. The end result is lots of simple, clean, resolved lines – and a look that manages to look chunky and cute at the same time. It’s helped by a further evolution of Volvo’s ‘Thor’s Hammer’ headlight motif at the front end and vertical tail-lights at the rear.
The XC40 also received a subtle facelift in 2022 which added a reshaped front bumper, slightly slimmer LED headlights and a new rear bumper which does without the exhaust cutouts you'll find on earlier examples.
Inside, there’s not a great deal in the way of opulence, and yet the XC40 still manages to deliver a dose of Swedish cool, much in the same way as a well-resolved IKEA living room display. There’s remarkably little clutter and although the actual amount of space isn’t any greater than the class average, the Volvo’s plethora of neat practical touches makes the XC40 feel a lot more ‘real-world liveable’ than many of its rivals.
Technology helps with this too, of course. And in this respect, a slice of shameless carryover from the XC60 and XC90 works wonders – because the XC40 gets the same nine-inch portrait-layout infotainment display as its larger brothers, as well as a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel instead of conventional dials. Both are standard across the range.
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
The XC40 features a nine-inch portrait-oriented central touchscreen running an Android-based operating system with built-in online Google services, just the Volvo's larger XC60 and XC90 SUVs. The graphics are sharper and the shortcut keys bolder and less fiddly to use than previous Volvo set-ups – although they are still on the small side.
Loading times are good, however; when we tested the system ourselves, the process of typing an address into the system and the first navigation instruction loading took just 18 seconds.Google’s live traffic info means the route and time to destination will be accurate, too.
There is a physical home button below the touchscreen, while further down you'll find a large physical volume dial and a row of buttons for the radio and heated windscreens. However the rest of the climate controls and air-con settings are adjusted through the screen. For a first-time user, the set-up takes a little getting used to, but it’s hard to fault if you link it to a Google account.
In this review
- 1Volvo XC40 reviewThe Volvo XC40 is a comfortable and stylish small SUV that has some pleasing practical touches and a lot of Swedish cool
- 2Engines, performance and driveThe XC40 majors on comfort and refinement instead of driving entertainment, and it does so rather well
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsPure petrol power offers average fuel economy, while the XC40 Recharge plug-in hybrid and pure-electric models will attract business users
- 4Interior, design and technology - currently readingBags of Swedish cool, with a clean, uncluttered design that still manages to incorporate some useful practical touches
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceA well-judged amount of cabin space and some neat features to help maximise boot space make the XC40 more than practical enough
- 6Reliability and SafetyProven engines should help to keep the XC40 reliable, while there's bags of top-notch Volvo safety kit on board, too