Volvo XC40 VS BMW X2
- Great styling
- Good standard equipment
- Charming and smart interior
- Very pricey servicing
- Launch Editions limited to small numbers
- Great styling
- Fun and agile to drive
- Practicality not compromised too much
- Tyre noise
- Less practical than an X1
- No AEB
The small SUV segment harbours innovation, eye-catching style and bigger-than-you'd-think cabin space.
The Volvo XC40 delivers on all of those fronts, plus more - this has been widely regarded as a game-changer for the Scandinavian brand: but does it live up to the hype?
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
Every other review of the new BMW X2 will start by telling you that last year SUVs outsold regular cars, not just within the German brand’s own sales department, but for the whole Australian car market, and they’ll go on and on.
But you’re busy and we’re not going to do that. You’re here because you’ve seen one of those billboards or TV ads for the BMW X2, or one on the road. You want to know what it is and whether you need this small SUV in your life rather than an Audi Q2, Mercedes-Benz GLA or Volvo XC40.
You’re in luck, we drove the sDrive20i, which is the most powerful X2, at its Australian launch and there’s so much to tell you.
We’ll answer such questions as: Is it as fast as it looks? Is it possible for a 191cm tall man to sit in the back without having surgery first? We’ll even reveal which of the world’s least attractive BMWs is its twin-under-the-skin.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
So, there you go. My socks haven't literally been blown off, but there is no denying this is a very competent entry into the small SUV segment. The Momentum in particular offers a promising, but pleasantly packed, small SUV for the money - though most will likely opt for the sportier R-Design model.
Across the range it is arguably a bit too expensive, particularly the ownership aspect - but unlike some rivals it actually feels like you're getting your money's worth with the Volvo XC40.
Would you choose the Volvo XC40 over its small SUV competitors? Let us know in the comments section below.
That BMW can take one of it’s least good looking and docile cars and create something which is not only gorgeous but engaging to drive is impressive. The X2 does lose some of the practicality of its twin-under-the-skin sibling, and if you have a small family, buying the X1 would be the sensible thing to do. But then again, not all practicality is lost in the X2. There’s just enough room in the back for tall people like me and that boot capacity is still good for the class.
Would you pick an X2 over an Audi Q2? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
I think it's perfect. The more I look at it, the more I struggle to see what I would want to change, because Volvo's designers have absolutely, positively nailed the styling of the XC40.
As the Volvo Cars senior vice president of design, Robin Page, said at the launch of the XC40 this week, the Swedish brand's smallest real SUV offering (we're not counting the V40 Cross Country, here) is like a stylish Prada sneaker, where the XC60 is like a suede shoe that would look okay with jeans or slacks, and the XC90 is the luxury black leather brogue.
It has detailed lines, a bluff and tough front end with the signature Hammer of Thor LED daytime running light inlays, and a bold grille treatment that flows to a square-jawed front bumper.
The scalloped sections in the front and rear doors help ground it, reflecting the ground and the sky to make it appear light on its feet. The two-tone roof finish on the cars at launch - white roof and mint-ish coloured paint for the Momentum; black roof and white paint for the R-Design - make it seem almost like a piece of high-end household furniture.
Mr Page described some elements of the design as "robot-like", and I can see more than a bit of WallE in this vehicle. The tail-lights maintain the same shape we've come to expect of the XC range, but with a scooped bootlid that works to hunker it down. Plus it's 40mm wider at the rear, which is said to help plant it visually.
The boxy exterior is broken up by cheeky touches like the Swedish flag on the front flank. It's playful, and definitely has that youthful appeal that Volvo undoubtedly wants for its entry-level SUV.
If I wasn't sold on the outside, the inside basically did its best impersonation of Bender from Futurama and yelled "shut up and take my money".
Oh, heck yes, there’s a lot that’s interesting about the X2’s design. Actually, I reckon it’s one of the most interesting BMWs in years.
For starters, the exterior has stayed pretty true to the adventurous look of X2 Concept we glimpsed for the first time back in 2016 at the Paris Motor Show.
There’s that short-for-a-BMW beak; that grille which is unique for the brand in that it's wider at the base than at the top; there’s that wedged profile and the short rear overhang; the dual exhaust tips and then there’s BMW badge placed on the C-Pillar just like beautiful Bimmers of the past such as the 1973 3.0CS.
BMW could have easily created a mini version of an X4 or X6 models, but didn’t, which in my books is a good thing because this X2 look gorgeous and better than the Mini Countryman, the Audi Q2 and Benz GLA in my eyes.
What makes the X2’s design even more impressive is that under its metal skin this car is almost identical to one of the ugliest (well, I think so) BMWs ever made - the X1. They share the same platform, even the same structure, but the only exterior parts the two have in common are the door handles and the shark fin antenna.
The X2's dimensions show it to be 79mm shorter in length end-to-end that the X1, but just 3mm wider at 1824mm and 70mm shorter in height. So it's smaller in size, but not by much.
Inside the similarities are obvious, actually the interior of the X2 is almost identical to the X1 – there’s the ‘carved out’ centre console area and the large, flat dash which will be familiar to all BMW owners.
The sDrive20i has that premium cabin feel, and doesn’t even hint of having been done on the cheap to bring the price down.
I reckon the X2 sDrive20i looks better with the M-Sport package, that super-sharp front splitter is the business, and also I’m not a fan of yellow stitching.
It may be the smallest 'proper' Volvo SUV to date, but the XC40 is pretty substantial - in fact, it is bigger than most of its rivals: it measures 4425mm long (with a 2702mm wheelbase), 1863mm wide and 1652mm tall.
That's bigger than many of its direct competitors, including the BMW X2, the Audi Q2 and Audi Q3, the Mercedes-Benz GLA and the Jaguar E-Pace. Only the BMW X1 is a touch longer, and we know that model is a beacon of interior pragmatism.
But the XC40 is not just big on the outside - the space inside is very good. In fact, it could be the best in its class... it's hard to tell without sitting in the competitors back to back, but with my 183cm (six-foot) frame sat behind my own driving position, I had ample space in the second row.
Kneeroom, toeroom and headroom were all exceptional, and the latter is even largely unaffected by the panoramic sunroof fitted to the Launch Edition cars we were driving.
Yep, this doesn't really feel like a small SUV, and it has all the usual must-have items like top tether points, ISOFIX child seat attachments rear air vents, bottle holders in the doors and a flip down armrest with cup holders. The map pockets are mesh numbers, backed by a hard plastic protector so the kids don't damage the fabric on the seat when they're attempting a shiatsu massage with their anxious little feet.
Now, those door pockets are great in the back, and astounding in the front (yes, it is possible to be astounded by door pockets). There are no speakers in the doors - so you get huge door pockets as a result - and the entirety of the pocket is lined with the same carpet that spans the floor of the vehicle, both up front and in the back.
That carpet isn't just any carpet... and no, I'm not referencing the orange colour, which is either ghastly or great, depending on who you ask. The carpet itself consists of 97 per cent recycled plastic, made from repurposed bottles. The other three per cent is dye.
Volvo has thought of some really good loose item storage, enough to make you think they've taken a leaf out of Skoda's book. There are good sized cupholders, there's a 'Qi' wireless phone charger in a cubby that's big enough for a few large smartphones, and there are two USB ports up front and a USB-C port in the back. The centre console bin has an actual bin at the front as well, and it's removable so you can take it out and wash it when you need to.
There are other nice touches such as a big portrait layout media screen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and sat nav, plus it doubles as a display for the reversing camera. You can get a 360-degree surround view camera set-up (standard on Launch Edition models), and every XC40 has a 12.3-inch digital driver info display that helps if feel pretty upmarket inside.
The boot is bigger than many of its competitors, too, with 460 litres of cargo room - and that expands to 1336L with the back seats folded down. And the smart arts continue in the back, with electric seat release buttons for the 60/40 split-fold back seats, and a really smart folding boot floor system that allows you to hook shopping bags on to stop them from flying around. Plus, you get a space-saver spare under the floor.
The top-spec models get a power tailgate, and you can option that on a more affordable version.
The X2 shares the same platform as the super practical X1. So, did the X2 gain good looks and lose practicality? After all, isn’t it a law of nature that you can’t be good looking and practical at the same time?
Well, the X2 is shorter in length than the X1 and its boot space is 23 litres smaller, too, with a capacity of 470 litres. The wheelbase of a car often determines cabin space and the X2’s 2670mm is the same as the X1, but legroom behind my driving position in the X2 was less than the in the X1.
I’m 191cm tall and had about 20mm of air between my knees and the seat back in the X2 – you can add another 15mm for the X1.
Headroom in the X2 is also limited due to the sloping roofline, with my hair just skimming the ceiling. That coupe styling also affects visibility for rear passengers through the side windows which are high and small. The X1 has large, rear window with low sills – great for kids in the back.
Up front, the cockpit is roomy with good storage space including two cupholders, and a large tray under the folding centre armrest. There are two more cupholders for the rear seats and all doors have large pockets with bottles holders.
Price and features
The Volvo XC40 range comes in two different model grades - the entry-level Momentum and the top spec R-Design. You can get petrol or diesel in both trim lines and like most Euro manufacturers, the standard spec is better than it once was - but there are still plenty of options available.
The T5 petrol Momentum opens the range at $47,990 (all prices plus on-road costs), while the D4 diesel Momentum attracts a bit of a premium, listing at $50,990.
The Momentum grade has standard equipment including push-button start, dual-zone climate control, 18-inch alloy wheels, LED 'Thor's Hammer' headlights with automatic high-beam, auto-dimming mirrors (inside and out), a 12.3-inch digital driver information display, 9.0-inch touchscreen media system with sat nav, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, eight speakers, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and Qi wireless phone charging.
The Momentum models have part-cloth/part-faux leather seat upholstery, along with an electronically-adjustable driver's seat and four-way lumbar support.
The safety story is strong for all models - check out the safety section below for all the details.
The sportier R-Design in T5 petrol guise is listed at $54,990, while the D4 diesel R-Design model is the flagship offering for now, listing at $57,990.
Over the Momentum, the R-Design models add some extra kit for your extra cash.
The most obvious change is the more aggressive R-Design exterior styling including a blacked out gloss grille, black contrasting roof and dual black tailpipes, 20-inch 'diamond-cut' black alloy wheels, plus it rides on the 'sport chassis' with stiffer suspension, and adaptive headlights with cornering beams.
Inside it gets R-Design perforated leather trim on the seats, steering wheel (which also gets paddleshifters), and gear selector, plus it has a black headliner. In addition to electric driver's seat adjustment, R-Design models get electric passenger seat adjust, plus there's full keyless entry, an electric tailgate with gesture function, and ambient mood lighting.
Volvo is celebrating the arrival of the XC40 with a pair of value-packed Launch Edition models - and as nice as they are, they're sold out already.
The T5 Momentum Launch Edition model lists at $52,990, while the D4 version is $55,990. Volvo claims $10,120 of extra value for a $5000 additional cost to consumers.
The Launch Edition version of the Momentum adds LED headlights with active bending beam, 19-inch five-spoke alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof, tinted windows, an alarm, leather trim, heated front seats, electric front passenger seat adjustment, seat cushion extension, power folding backrest and headrest, keyless entry with electric tailgate, adaptive cruise control with semi-automated 'Pilot Assist', semi-automated parking assist, a 360-degree camera, and a 13-speaker harman/kardon premium stereo.
The T5 R-Design Launch Edition model is listed at $56,740, while the D4 R-Design Launch Edition comes in at $59,740. The value-add according to Volvo is $6670, but it costs buyers just $1750.
The Launch Edition version adds (over the regular R-Design) a panoramic sunroof, tinted windows, an alarm, heated front seats, power folding backrest and headrest, adaptive cruise control with semi-automated Pilot Assist, semi-automated parking assist, a 360-degree camera, and a 13-speaker harman/kardon premium stereo.
How much is a BMW X2? Well BMW has brought one version of the X2 to Australia, for now – it’s the sDrive20i, a petrol powered, front-wheel drive, and it lists (RRP) for $55,900 (before on-road costs). Just to be clear, this isnt' a 'launch edition', but the first variant of the X2 to arrive in Australia.
Later in 2018 an sDrive18i will take its place at the entry-point of the range, and the xDrive20d diesel all-wheel drive will slip into the top spot in the X2 line-up, with price lists and specs to be announced closer to their launch.
The sDrive20i does sit high in the X2 range and that means it’s not short on features. Coming standard is a 6.5-inch touchscreen with sat nav and a reversing camera, there’s a 100W stereo with digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity, Alcantara and cloth upholstery, sports front seats, M-Sport steering wheel, air-conditioning, auto parking system, front and rear parking sensors, LED headlights, and a power tailgate.
When you buy the sDrive20i it will come fitted with the 'M-Sport X' package as standard and that adds tough looking ‘Frozen Grey’ cladding to the front and rear bumpers, aas well as the door sills and wheelarches.
BMW has banked on not everybody being a fan of the grey bits and as a no-cost option you can have the X2 with the 'M-Sport' package. This adds an M-Sport aero kit with a more motorsport inspired front splitter and diffuser, and inserts in a hue BMW calls 'Dark Shadow'. Both packages come with 19-inch light alloy wheels in slightly different styles.
The interiors of both M-Sport X and M-Sport cars are identical save for the contrasting yellow stitching on the former's upholstery, whereas the latter has blue stitching and an aluminium interior trim.
An optional 'Innovations Package' ($2600) adds a more sophisticated sat nav system, head-up display and adaptive cruise control.
The 'Comfort Package' ($2700) brings a proximity key, plus heated and power-adjusted driver and front passenger seats.
The 'Style Plus Package' ($3300) and will see your X2 rolling on 20-inch wheels, with a panoramic sunroof and metallic paintwork.
Talking of paint colours, only 'Alpine White' is free. Well, it doesn’t cost extra. If you want any other colour it will be a metallic one and it will cost you $1547. But that opens up 'Sunset Orange', 'Galvanic Gold', 'Misano Blue', 'Mediterranean Blue', 'Sparkling Storm', 'Mineral Grey' and 'Black Sapphire'.
At $55,900 the sDrive20i is pricey compared to its Audi Q2 rival – the 2.0TFSI Quattro sport is $48,500.
Also keep in mind that an X1 with the same engine lists for $53,600 and it shares so much of the same DNA. How much? Prepare to have your mind blown in the section below.
Engine & trans
There's no real 'entry-level' engine as yet, but a base model three-cylinder version with front-wheel drive is expected at the end of 2019. That's a long while to wait, but in in the meantime, there are petrol and diesel models to choose from.
The petrol is known as the T5, and it's a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder unit with a punchy 185kW of power at 5500rpm and 350Nm of torque from 1800-4800rpm. Those figures put it on par with a Ford Focus ST, and Volvo claims a sprightly 0-100 sprint time of just 6.5 seconds.
The diesel is called the D4, and it's a twin-turbo unit, again with high outputs: 140kW of power at 4000rpm, and 400Nm of torque from 1750-2500rpm. If you're interested, the 0-100km/h time for the diesel is claimed at 7.9sec.
Both engines are teamed with eight-speed automatic transmissions as standard, and both are all-wheel drive, giving these little tykes a point of difference against competitors like the Audi Q2, BMW X2 and Mercedes GLA, all of which have front-wheel drive entry level models.
Unlike some of those other models, though, the XC40 is a bit of a porker - the petrol model weighs in at 1710 kilograms, with the diesel around the 1743kg mark... so it needs the power to get it moving.
The towing capacity across all models is identical, at 2100kg for a braked trailer and 750kg un-braked.
The sDrive20i has a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine with 141kW of power and 280Nm of torque.
The ‘s’ in sDrive means this is a front-wheel drive car. Same goes for the sDrive18i which has a 103kW/220Nm three-cylinder, turbo-petrol engine.
BMW has told us little about the other X2 variants but has given us the engine specifications. The xDrive20d is, you guessed it, all-wheel drive (awd) and has a 2.0-litre four cylinder turbo-diesel engine which is good for 140kW/400Nm. That's less horsepower but more torque than the 20i.
Both petrol variants use a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, while the diesel uses a traditional eight-speed automatic.
BMW says the 20i and 20d accelerate from 0-100km/h in 7.7 seconds, which isn’t slow (but isn’t super faster, either) while the 18i will get there, eventually, at 9.6sec.
The braked towing capacity for the sDrive18i, sDrive 20i and xDrive20d is 1700kg, 1800kg and 2000kg respectively.
There is no rear-wheel drive X2, although such a thing that would be great. And yes, no manual transmission.
The X2 weighs 1415kg in sDrive18i form, 1460kg for the sDrive20i and 1555kg for the xDrive20d.
These engines don't prioritise frugality over usability, but they still offer respectable claimed fuel consumption for the class in which they compete.
The petrol is claimed to use 7.1 litres per 100 kilometres, which is fine, but you'll need to use 95RON premium unleaded when you fill up.
The diesel's claimed fuel consumption is rated at 5.1L/100km - again, not setting any benchmarks, but a respectable figure nonetheless.
On test, we saw around 10.0L/100km for the T5 over a mix of some urban driving, a big stint of country driving on twisty and straight roads, and some freeway work, too.
The fuel tank capacity is just 54 litres, so you might find yourself refuelling fairly often as the range isn't exceptionally good.
BMW says the sDrive20i should use 6.0L/100km over a combination of open and urban roads, which is good mileage. Our test car’s on-board computer told us it was averaging 7.2L/100km for fuel economy and that was on mainly country roads.
Official fuel consumption claims for the yet to be released sDrive18i and xDrive20d haven't been confirmed, but we’ll let you know just how thirsty they are as soon as we have the chance to drive them locally later in the year.
That's a good start. I mean, the Polestars were fast, but they weren't the last word in dynamism. The XC40 - like I said before - is designed to be a bit more fun, and that translates to the way it drives.
I only had a chance to get behind the wheel of the R-Design T5 model, and I couldn't help but associate this new model as some sort of high-riding hot hatch.
The engine's outputs suggest it could be, and the performance on offer pretty much backs up that notion. In Dynamic mode it offers willing performance, though the eight-speed automatic can be caught out in its quest to lower fuel consumption rather than offer outright edge-of-your-seat performance. But, fear not - there are paddle-shifters that allow you to take matters into your own hands, quite literally.
The steering is pretty quick, which helps separate it from the slowly, slowly approach of the more sedate larger SUVs in the brand's line-up. It is light and accurate, without much feel (it's an electric system, after all), and makes for easy parking, decent high speed direction changes, and good assuredness in the bends.
That comes down to the all-wheel drive system, which helps apportion torque where it's needed because it's an on-demand system. Grip from the Pirelli P-Zero tyres was excellent, too.
Because I was in the R-Design, I had the 'sports chassis' firm suspension - by way of stiffer springs, dampers and anti-roll bars as part of the MacPherson strut front and independent rear end (coil-sprung, unlike the inverted leaf se-tups of the bigger Volvo SUVs). And the result was a ride that wasn't necessarily plush, but nor was it too sharp or abrupt over bumps.
Admittedly, I could feel the lumps and bumps in the road surface as a driver and as a passenger, but I thought it kept in good stead with the persona of this little SUV - something a little bit more sporty than you might expect from Volvo. Especially a Volvo SUV.
That said, I'd give anything to drive the front-wheel drive XC40 three-cylinder on 18-inch wheels and the standard chassis set-up, because it has the potential to be an absolute peach.
The X2 and X1 share the same platform, structure and engines but feel entirely different to drive.
You can feel the difference from the moment you drop behind the X2’s wheel. You sit so much lower in this car – 20mm lower than the X1. That driving position makes you feel part of the car rather than riding on top of it as you do in the X1.
The X2’s ride height is also 10mm lower than the X1’s and this lowers the car’s centre of mass and improves handling. Ground clearance is 182mm.
BMW’s engineers wanted to give the X2 more agility than the X1, and did this by adding about 10 minutes of negative camber to the front wheels for better cornering ability. The addition of a swaybar with pre-loaded bushes to control body roll earlier meant softer dampers could be used for a more comfortable ride but still good handling.
The X2’s body is also 10 per cent stiffer than the X1’s, and this extra rigidity improves its agility, too.
It’s not the most powerful or quickest, not by a long shot, but it feels far more like a sedan because of that lack of the heaving body roll (common on bigger SUVs) and that low driving position.
Steering feel is superb, the larger SUVs feel like cruise ships with steering wheels that need to be spun endlessly to navigate through a corner, but the X2’s linear steering is sharp, consistent and turn-in is excellent.
Only the sDrive20i was available to drive at the launch and I can say the 2.0-litre engine is a good thing – good for overtaking, good for power up hills and good for country roads and darting through urban traffic.
We did all of this and the dual-clutch auto performed smoothly even in bumper-to-bumper traffic which can expose this type of transmission's jerky behaviour.
It’s not all perfect – there was a plenty of road noise from the large, low-profile run flat-tyres filtering into the cabin and the ride on them is a bit ‘gritty’ and hard.
I’m secretly hoping BMW will give the X2 something a bit more potent later on – maybe the straight six from the M140i hatch. An X2 M – a proper performance X2, now I’d want to drive that.
The Volvo XC40 is yet to be tested by EuroNCAP or ANCAP, so there's no crash test score to talk about.
But there is plenty of safety equipment fitted as standard - and we're referencing the regular models, not the sold-out Launch Edition versions.
Let's start with seven airbags (dual front, front side, full-length curtain and driver's knee cover), a reversing camera and front and rear parking sensors. You can option a 360-degree camera if you like, and there's a 'Park Assist Pilot' semi-autonomous parking system available, too.
Auto emergency braking (AEB) is standard, and not only for the front - the XC40 has rear collision warning and braking, too. Plus there's blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, lane keeping assistance, and a system called "run-off road protection and mitigation" that can detect if you veer off the tarmac unintentionally.
All models have cruise control, but you can option an adaptive cruise control system with Pilot Assist semi-autonomous driving.
The X2 has been awarded the maximum five-star ANCAP rating but be aware that it was given this score based on how the X1 performed when it was crash tested in 2015.
EuroNCAP and ANCAP felt that because both cars share the same platform and structure then only additional testing to the X2 was needed.
Safety technology has also come a long way since 2015 and the bar has been raised for achieving five star with AEB coming standard on many cars.
The X2 does not have AEB, nor is it available as an option, because the car uses cameras for vehicle and pedestrian detection, not radar which is needed for AEB.
There is a light braking function which slows the vehicle if a pedestrian is detected in the car's path or a collision is imminent with another car, but the system won’t bring the vehicle to a complete stop to avoid an impact. BMW said it felt certain that the X2 would meet five-star standards today.
You will find traction and stability control, plus run flat tyres.
For child seats you’ll find two ISOFIX mounts and three top-tether anchor points across the rear row.
Volvo really needs to address its ownership costs... these numbers are either the most honest in the premium maintenance world, or the most expensive in the luxury car class.
There's a capped-price service plan available in two different levels - 'SmartCare' and 'SmartCare Plus' - the latter of which includes consumables like wiper blades, brakes (pads and discs) and pollen filters, plus the occasional wheel alignment.
As with the other Volvo models, buyers can choose to opt for a three-year/45,000km plan, a four-year/60,000km plan, or a five-year/75,000km plan. All of them are expensive. Very expensive.
The prices are as follows. SmartCare: three years - $2165; four years - $3320; five years - $4030.
Then there's the SmartCare Plus: three years - $2980; four years - $5160; five years - $6345.
This downside is compounded by the fact there's no special treatment in terms of warranty cover, either. The brand backs its cars with a three-year/unlimited kilometre plan, which is on par for its competitive set.
At least you can get up to six years of roadside assist included at no cost, provided you service your car with Volvo authorised workshops.