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Volvo XC40 2020 review: Momentum

The XC40 lives in one of the hottest segments in the Australian new car market.
EXPERT RATING
8
Volvo's on a roll in the Australian new car market (appropriate given Volvo means 'I roll' in Latin) and the compact XC40 SUV is a key part of that success. How does the sub-$50K, entry-level Momentum fare in the urban jungle?

As much as any brand in the Australian car market Volvo has evolved into an SUV company. Its full-size XC90 broke the ice in the early noughties, joined by the mid-size XC60 in 2008, with this car, the compact XC40 completing the three-piece set in 2018.

Volvo is one of only a few shining lights in a declining new vehicle market, and the XC40 is giving the XC60 a nudge for top spot in the Swedish maker’s range. So, it must be doing something right… right?

We spent a week with the entry-level XC40 T4 Momentum to see what all the Scandinavian fuss is about.

Volvo XC40 2020: Momentum
Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7.2L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$46,990

Is there anything interesting about its design?   9/10

Across its current range Volvo has mastered the art of design consistency without stepping over into confusing sameness. It’s a fine line, and the XC40 illustrates why Volvo is winning that game.

Volvo has mastered the art of design consistency. Volvo has mastered the art of design consistency.

Signature design elements, like the distinctive ‘Thor’s Hammer’ LED headlights and long hockey stick tail-lights tie the XC40 to its larger siblings, while chunky, masculine styling sets it apart from the compact SUV crowd.

Always a subjective call, but I like the XC40’s stocky build with a touch of toughness added via a sharply chiselled recess across the side doors just above the rocker, and black over-fender trims on the wheelarches.

Speaking of which, the sturdy, 18-inch, five-spoke alloys dial up the macho feel a little further, with other unique elements including the rear door glass kicking up at a roughly 45-degree angle to create a third side window, and the bold ‘Iron Mark’ logo in the grille.

And our test car’s optional ‘Glacier Silver’ finish ($1150) is extraordinary, depending on the light, shifting between off white, to a soft grey or stronger silver.

It get the distinctive ‘Thor’s Hammer’ LED headlights and sturdy, 18-inch, five-spoke alloys. It get the distinctive ‘Thor’s Hammer’ LED headlights and sturdy, 18-inch, five-spoke alloys.

The interior is simple and understated in typical Scandinavian style. Form and function feel equally balanced, with a portrait-oriented 9.0-inch media touchscreen and 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster subtly integrated into the gently sweeping dash design.

Decoration is low key, with curved, horizontal ‘Grid Aluminium’ inlays, ‘piano black’ finishes, and small touches of bright metal adding visual interest. Optional leather-faced seats ($750) continue the pared back theme with broad, over-stitched panels enhancing what is a cool and calming atmosphere overall.

How practical is the space inside?   9/10

At just over 4.4m long the XC40 fits the small SUV profile perfectly, and within that footprint a 2.7m wheelbase is the same as comparably sized mainstream models like the Toyota RAV4 and Mazda CX-5.

It’s also quite tall and there’s plenty of space for the driver and front passenger, with storage including a medium-size lidded box between the seats, a smaller flip-top compartment in front of it, as well as two cupholders (with another small lidded tray in front of them) and a wireless device charging pad in the centre console.

There’s plenty of space for the driver and front passenger. There’s plenty of space for the driver and front passenger.

There are bottle holders in the sizeable front door pockets, a wide but slim glove box (cooled with bag hook), and an additional oddments box under the driver’s seat. Power and connectivity runs to a 12-volt socket and two USB ports (one for media, the other for charge only).

There are bottle holders in the sizeable front door pockets. There are bottle holders in the sizeable front door pockets.

Move to the back and sitting behind the driver’s seat, set for my 183cm position, head and legroom is excellent, and the seat itself is nicely sculpted and comfortable.

Head and legroom is excellent in the back. Head and legroom is excellent in the back.

There are modest pockets in the doors but unless the bottle you want to slip in there comes from the spirits section of a hotel mini-bar you’re out of luck on the liquid container front. Elastic nets on the front seatbacks are handy, as are coat and bag hooks in the roof.

A fold-down centre armrest contains two cupholders, and twin adjustable air vents in the rear of the front centre console will be welcomed by backseaters.

Then the boot offers up 460 litres of cargo space with the rear seats upright, which is more than enough to swallow our three-piece hard suitcase set (35, 68 and 105 litres), or the jumbo size CarsGuide pram.

  • The boot offers up 460 litres of cargo space with the rear seats upright. The boot offers up 460 litres of cargo space with the rear seats upright.
  • It easily fits the jumbo size CarsGuide pram. It easily fits the jumbo size CarsGuide pram.
  • There's more than enough to swallow our three-piece hard suitcase set. There's more than enough to swallow our three-piece hard suitcase set.
  • Drop the 60/40 split-folding rear seats (they fold easily) and no less than 1336 litres of volume is at your disposal. Drop the 60/40 split-folding rear seats (they fold easily) and no less than 1336 litres of volume is at your disposal.
  • A grocery bag holder and foldable floor hatch increase flexibility. A grocery bag holder and foldable floor hatch increase flexibility.

Drop the 60/40 split-folding rear seats (they fold easily) and no less than 1336 litres of volume is at your disposal, and a through port in the centre of the back seat means you can stash long objects and still fit people in.

A deep storage well behind the driver’s side wheel tub boast a 12-volt socket and an elasticised strap to retain small bits and pieces, with a smaller sunken trench on the other side.

A grocery bag holder and foldable floor hatch increase flexibility, the latter able to sit up Toblerone-style to compartmentalise the cargo floor. Additional bag hooks and tie down anchors round out a useful, user-friendly interior package.

Towing capacity isn’t massive at 1800kg for a braked trailer (750kg unbraked), but it’s pretty handy for a car of this stature.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

The XC40 lives in one of the hottest segments in the Australian new car market, and at $46,990, before on-road costs, the T4 Momentum lines up against a slew of quality competitors.

For that money you can go up in size, but down in prestige, so we stuck with the compact luxury formula and without trying too hard came up with eight high-quality options in the $45-$50,000 band. Namely, the Audi Q3 35 TFSI, BMW X1 sDrive 20i, Mercedes-Benz GLA 180, Mini Countryman Cooper S, Peugeot 3008 GT, Renault Koleos Intens, Skoda Kodiaq 132 TSI 4x4, and the Volkswagen Tiguan 132 TSI R-Line. Yep, hot competition.

You'll get a 9.0-inch (vertical) media touchscreen with inductive smartphone charging, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You'll get a 9.0-inch (vertical) media touchscreen with inductive smartphone charging, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

So, you’re going to want some premium features bang for your compact SUV bucks, and the XC40 T4 Momentum tips in Volvo high-performance audio (including digital radio), a 9.0-inch (vertical) media touchscreen (with speech function), a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, inductive smartphone charging, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite navigation (with road sign information), power adjustable driver’s seat (with memory and four way lumbar support), leather-trimmed steering wheel and gearshift, and dual-zone climate control air (with cooled glove box and ‘CleanZone’ interior air quality system).

Also included are keyless entry and start, auto LED headlights, front fog lights, power operated tailgate (with hands-free electric opening), and 18-inch alloy wheels.

Our car was fitted with the ‘Lifestyle Pack’ including panoramic sunroof and tinted rear windows. Our car was fitted with the ‘Lifestyle Pack’ including panoramic sunroof and tinted rear windows.

Standard upholstery is textile/vinyl, but ‘our’ car was optioned with ‘leather accent’ trim for an extra $750, as well as the ‘Momentum Comfort Pack’ (passenger power seat, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, mechanical cushion extension - $1000), the ‘Lifestyle Pack’ (panoramic sunroof, tinted rear windows, Harmon Kardon premium sound - $3000), and the ‘Momentum Technology Pack’ (360-degree camera, power folding rear headrest, LED headlights with ‘Active Bending Lights’, ‘Park Assist Pilot’, and ambient interior lighting - $2000), plus ‘Glacier Silver’ metallic paint ($1150). Which all adds up to an ‘as-tested’ price of $54,890, before on-road costs.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   7/10

The all-alloy, 2.0-litre (VEP4) four-cylinder engine features direct-injection, a single (BorgWarner) turbo and variable valve timing on the inlet and exhaust sides.

It’s claimed to produce 140kW at 4700rpm and 300Nm between 1400-4000rpm, with drive going to the front wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The engine is claimed to produce 140kW at 4700rpm and 300Nm between 1400-4000rpm. The engine is claimed to produce 140kW at 4700rpm and 300Nm between 1400-4000rpm.

 

How much fuel does it consume?   6/10

Claimed fuel economy for the combined (ADR 81/02 - urban, extra-urban) cycle is 7.2L/100km, the XC40 T4 Momentum emitting 165g/km of CO2 in the process.

Despite standard stop-start, over roughly 300km of city, suburban and freeway running we recorded 12.5L/100km, which is pushing the thirst factor up to a concerning degree.

Minimum fuel requirement is 95 RON premium unleaded, and you’ll need 54 litres of it to fill the tank.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

The strongest take-out behind the XC40’s wheel is how comfortable it is. Volvo’s ride and handling boffins have performed some kind of suspension voodoo, making a 2.7-metre wheelbase feel half a metre longer.

The strongest take-out behind the XC40’s wheel is how comfortable it is. The strongest take-out behind the XC40’s wheel is how comfortable it is.

It’s a strut front, multi-link rear set-up and you’d swear there was some kind of magnetic damper or air-ride tech under the car. But it’s all conventional and does a brilliant job of soaking up bumps and other imperfections without sacrificing dynamic response.

Standard footwear on the Momentum is 18-inch alloys shod with 235/55 Pirelli P Zero rubber. The middle level Inscription grade rides on 19s, and the top-shelf R-Design rolls on 20s. But you can bet the relatively cushy sidewall on the 18-inch tyre contributes to the entry model’s ride quality.

Claimed 0-100km/h acceleration for the roughly 1.6-tonne XC40 is 8.4sec, which is pretty sharp. With maximum torque (300Nm) available from just 1400rpm all the way to 4000rpm there’s plenty of mid-range punch available and the slick-shifting eight-speed auto does its bit to keep the engine in that sweet spot.

The electrically assisted steering is nicely weighted for easy turning at parking speeds, loading up with decent road feel as speeds rise. The front-wheel drive XC40 feels balanced and predictable in corners.

As well as looking a million dollars, the central media screen delivers easy, intuitive navigation. As well as looking a million dollars, the central media screen delivers easy, intuitive navigation.

As well as looking a million dollars, the central media screen delivers easy, intuitive navigation by swiping through multiple screens revealing icon-based functions on additional screens to the left and right of the main page.

One thing that isn’t adjusted by swipe is the audio volume control, with a centrally placed knob a welcome, user-friendly addition. The seats feel as good as they look, ergonomics are hard to fault, while engine and road noise is modest.

On the minus side of the ledger, that kicked up rear door glass treatment may look interesting but impacts over the shoulder vision on both sides.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / unlimited km warranty

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   10/10

In the main, the XC40 does its bit to maintain Volvo’s outstanding reputation for active and passive safety standards by scoring a maximum five-star ANCAP (and Euro NCAP) rating at launch in 2018… except for the T4 Momentum.

This two-wheel drive model is not covered by the ANCAP assessment, while all-wheel drive variants are. But like the AWD models, the T4 Momentum features an impressive suite of crash-avoidance tech, including ‘City Support’ - (AEB with pedestrian, vehicle, large animal and cyclist detection, ‘Intersection Collision and Oncoming Mitigation’ with ‘Brake Support’, and ‘Steering Support’), ‘Intellisafe Assist’ - (‘Driver Alert’, ‘Lane Keeping Aid’, adaptive cruise control including ‘Pilot Assist’, ‘Distance Alert’, and ‘Lane Keeping Aid’, as well as ‘Oncoming Lane Mitigation’), plus ‘Intellisafe Surround’ - (‘Blind Spot Information’ with ‘Cross Traffic Alert’, ‘Front and Rear Collision Warning’ with mitigation support, ‘Run-off road Mitigation’, ‘Hill start assist’, ‘Hill Descent Control’, ‘Park Assist’ front and rear, rear parking camera, rain-sensing wipers, ‘Drive Mode’ with personal power steering settings, ‘Emergency Brake Assist’, and an ‘Emergency Brake Light.’

The T4 Momentum features an impressive suite of safety gear. The T4 Momentum features an impressive suite of safety gear.

If that’s not enough to prevent an impact you’re protected by seven airbags (front, front side, curtain and driver’s knee), Volvo’s ‘Side Impact Protection System’ (SIPS) and ‘Whiplash Protection System.’

There are three top-tether points across the rear seat back with ISOFIX anchors on the two outer positions for child seats and baby capsules.

A hugely impressive package for a car in the under-$50K bracket.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

Volvo offers a three year/unlimited km warranty across its new car model range, including 24-hour roadside assist during that period. Off the pace when you consider most mainstream brands are now at five years/unlimited km.

But, on the upside, once the warranty runs out, if you have your car serviced at an authorised Volvo dealer each year (for up to six years from the warranty start date) you receive a 12-month extension to the roadside assist coverage.

Volvo offers a three year/unlimited km warranty across its new car model range. Volvo offers a three year/unlimited km warranty across its new car model range.

Service is recommended every 12 months/15,000km (whichever comes first) with a Volvo Service Plan covering scheduled servicing for the XC40 over the first three years or 45,000km for $1595.

Verdict

The XC40 distils Volvo’s current virtues – charismatic design, easy functionality, and top-shelf safety – into an SUV package with brisk performance, an impressive standard equipment list, and enough space and flexibility for small families. Based on this test fuel efficiency could be better, and the warranty needs a boost, but if you’re looking for a cool, compact SUV that stands apart from the mainstream your ride awaits.

 

Pricing Guides

$46,990
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$46,990
Highest Price
$46,990
EXPERT RATING
8
Design9
Practicality9
Price and features8
Engine & trans7
Fuel consumption6
Driving8
Safety10
Ownership7
James Cleary
Deputy Editor

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