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Volvo’s smallest compact SUV is finally here in India. How did the cool Nordic creation handle the hot Indian summer? We’ve drove it in Hyderabad to find out.

Story: Jim Gorde
Photography: Sanjay Raikar

The Swedes have a way of making things last. No, this isn’t about Ikea or Amon Amarth’s “The Pursuit of Vikings” that has been my phone ringtone for the past decade. Volvo are properly Swedish at heart and it shows in everything from their understated and elegant design to the thoughtful layouts that form their interior. The first XC90, in fact, was around for more than a decade. It was hugely practical and had several innovative features. Yet, it aged, and with just a few touch-ups and some revised engines, it was calling for an overhaul. The next one arrived in 2015 and that was all that Volvo needed. Sales graphs soared, and a new design language, not to mention product architecture, laid the groundwork for future success. Then came the new XC60, along with the announcement of a new platform for compact cars — CMA (Compact Modular Architecture) — and the first-ever XC40. This is it!

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First, though, seeing how Volvo have fared over the past decade or so they’ve been here, they’ve been brand-building-and-a-half, adding dealer partners, and, more recently, opening a parts warehouse – a move that will significantly cut turnaround time. But, the question is, will you choose a Volvo over its other premium rivals? How much value do you place on a badge? Is it more than the value of a considerable number of features that none of the others offer, some of which aren’t even available internationally?

The XC40 is built from the ground up, on the all-new CMA platform that’s built for the future — Volvo get a flexible architecture, and buyers get to choose combustion engine, plug-in hybrid, or full electric. Their intent was making the car’s powertrain as easy to pick and choose as a choice of paint and interior. Safe to say, they’re well on their way. For now, the XC40 arrives with a turbo-diesel engine, and a host of customization choices, including dual-tone paint finishes, a variety of interior trims and colours. And, we drove it in India this time.

The XC40 D4 AWD R-Design is the only variant on offer, and it’s a great way to start. The sporty design is evident from the outset, and the package provides several details, little and large, that make the whole thing stand out. True, the palette may be rather popular, but the XC40 holds its own, and very well.

The first element that stands out are the Mjölnir or ‘Thor’s Hammer’ headlamps, more so on the sparkling metallic-red paint finish. Although tweaked and slightly sharper, they’re just as stunning. The ‘Concept 40.1’ has stayed true to its form and delivered some modern lines with bold sections. The balance of metal and glass is something to appreciate and it works wonders with the shapely lines. The XC40, in India, wears 235/55 R18 Pirelli P-Zero VOLs on stylish 18-inch alloy wheels. Options up to 20-inch are available. The smart LED headlamps are complemented by the LED tail-lamp cluster and the standard hands-free power tail-gate.

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Get inside, and the interior is a mix of black leather and metal — just how I like it. Yet, there’s room for personalization. The new “Lava” interior trim for the doors and carpeting stands out. Volvo say this will be a choice for buyers. That’s only the tip of the Nordic iceberg. The XC40 brings in a slew of safety features — camera and radar-based ones included — with the list comprising the IntelliSafe suite, Collision Mitigation, Adaptive Cruise Control, Steering Assist for Lane-keep and oncoming crash mitigation, Run-off-road Protection, and the matter of ABS, EBD, and a full complement of airbags.

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The list of convenience features includes a wireless charging pad with a five-Watt induction charger, active headlamps, voice control, a 9.0-inch tablet centre touchscreen, a panoramic sunroof, hill-start assist, hill descent control, and park pilot for all situations with only 20 per cent more space needed than the length of the car. You also get a premium sound system with 13 speakers and an air sub-woofer. This also frees up space on the doors and adds to the kinds of storage spaces you can have around. Oh, and there’s also a mini trash bin in the centre stack. Neat. And, depending on what price it launches at — around the Rs 40 lakh mark, we believe — it should make for great value, too.

Hyderabad’s outer ring road offers good opportunities for putting all sorts of features to the test. The XC40 gets keyless entry and go, expected from Volvo these days. Unlike the two larger XCs, the 40 gets a start button, and not a knob. The drive modes — Eco, Comfort, Off-road, Dynamic and Individual — set up the car to suit its environment and target driving profile very well. The all-digital full-colour display changes accordingly, showing an eco gauge, or switching to twin needles for speed and revs in other modes. We started in Comfort.

The XC40 packs the company’s dynamic sport chassis, making it tilt in favour of handling. The ride is still supple, the cabin is appreciably quiet, and the seats are fantastic: multi-way power adjustable and with extendible thigh support. Heating is also standard, just so you know. Settled in, the steering wheel feels reasonably chunky and provides varying degrees of feedback depending on drive mode chosen. In Comfort, it was fairly light yet, being speed-sensitive, firmed up nicely as the numbers climbed. The D4 AWD powertrain consists of the four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine making 190 PS and 400 Nm. An eight-speed automatic transmission powers the latest-generation Haldex coupling for intelligent all-wheel drive, that can vary distribution to as much as 95 per cent to the front, or up to 50 per cent to the rear — response time is approximately 1/8th of a turn of the wheel at 100 km/h. That’s reassuring.

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More on page 2 >

 

About the author: Jim Gorde

 

Automotive Correspondent at Bike India and Car India.
Believes that learning never stops. Loves V8 engines as much as a good breakfast.
t: @BikeIndia / @CarIndia

 

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