Volvo XC40 Is Up Against GLA, X1 and Q3, Does It Match up?

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Now this looks like a serious bred SUV. Volvo Auto India comes to the party with their smallest SUV – the XC40. But would the introduction of Volvo XC40 be enough to shake competition within the entry level premium SUV segment is what we are about to find out?

Prithvi Radhakrishna
behind the wheel, lens & keyboard

Volvo Auto India’s onslaught in the SUV segment is very much evident from the product portfolio that the Swedish automaker has to offer. In India SUV’s are a rage be it big or small, which is why the introduction of Volvo XC40 makes lot more sense. Consumers who are on the lookout for a premium entry level SUV can now choose an all-new product in the form of XC40 as against the likes of German trio – Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Mercedes GLA. Rather late to the segment, can Volvo make an impression with the XC40 is what we are going to find out?

Volvo’s XC40 is very distinctive in its design. Following the typical SUV family traits (Volvo XC90 and Volvo XC60), the XC40 makes itself very much prominent to the naked eye. The propositions are such that the moment you lay eyes on it, you would want to explore more of this premium entry level SUV. Like the XC90 and XC60 the front end look very much imposing thanks to the rather longish nose. It is characterized by Thor’s Hammer Head lights, which have become a design symbol in all latest generation Volvo’s. That said when compared to XC90 and the XC60, Volvo XC40 has sleeker headlamp clusters that really stand out from the two. The presence of a blacked out grille further gives more substance to the front design. Not to forget the combination of a chiseled bumper which along with sharp lines visible on the hood help in establishing an aggressive appeal. The story of sharp straight lines continues on the sides as well however there are two striking feature to watch out for that include a blacked out roof and 18inch allow wheels. Unlike the front, the rear has a different design to reflect. The prominent part of which is the badge found in the tailgate, which makes the back of this SUV very interesting to look at. Other elements like L shaped taillights, a black plastic rear bumper, reflector inserts and chrome finished dual exhaust pipes complete this SUV.

Volvo has always believed that the customer is the “King’ and must get what he deserves. To this notion, Volvo has loaded the XC40 with everything. From plastics to the fabric they are all top quality. In fact, the test vehicle that we test drove was the top-of-the line (R – Design) variant. Thus the moment, I set my feet inside the cabin, one thing was very clear this SUV felt very premium. Unique in its own way, the Volvo XC40 offers a contrasting interior that is a combination of black and orange. The Orange material which Volvo refers to as Lava is made up recycled plastic; a really cool way of reusing components isn’t it and making the world a cleaner place to live in. You know what I mean right?

On the deeper description, elements like the instrument panel, steering wheel and the 9-inch vertical touchscreen music system present in the XC40 have made their way from their elder siblings the Volvo XC60 and XC90. That aside, the dashboard looks very classy due the silver touches provided to it as well as on door panels. Inclusion of silver finished vertical A/C vents and door handles further enhance the style quotient.

Following true Volvo traditions, the center console features minimum number of buttons via the presence of a single panel. This feature makes the cabin look very neat and clean. The word comfort is synonymous to any Volvo and so is the case with the XC40. The seats therefore offer ample of head, shoulder and legroom, though the cushioning feels a bit on the stiffer side that could pose a threat to long distance travel. In terms of occupancy, this SUV would be perfect for having four people onboard as fitting the fifth one at the rear would be a real squeeze.  A clever thought on behalf of Volvo, to provide more storage in the door pockets they have done away with the speakers. In fact the front speakers now come built-into the dashboard. According to the automaker, they constitute for better sound quality and user experience that is true as we were a testament to this feature. We had mentioned earlier about the 9-inch touchscreen that is a part of the infotainment system; it comes with functions like Apple Car Play and Android Auto. Fitted with a Harman Kardon music system the XC40 also caters to wireless phone charging.

If you’re thinking that this is it then hold on, from a safety perspective there a hoard of radar-based features like lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, blind spot warning, pilot assist and emergency braking being offered on Volvo XC40. Besides these, the regular list of safety features includes hill decent control, traction control, ESP and multiple air bags. The XC40 R-Design as standard fitment provides 460 litres of boot space, panoramic sunroof, electric tailgate, auto LED headlamps, dual zone climate control, reverse camera along with front and rear parking sensors.

Next how worthy is the Volvo XC40 R-Design to drive on Indian roads? To begin, it comes equipped with a 2.0 litre, four-cylinder engine that produces 190 bhp with 400 Nm of torque. The powertrain is quick to respond and does not feature any turbo lag. In fact the engine is very responsive and offers a strong-mid range as it can rev all the way to 4200 rpm beyond which it starts to feel strained. Despite being a diesel, the level of refinement is brilliant be it in idle or as the speed builds up the NVH levels inside the cabin are restricted to a minimum. This wouldn’t have been possible without the inclusion of an eight-speed automatic transmission that offers smooth and perfect shifts. For an enhanced driving experience one can also utilize the paddle shifts that allow you to go up or down the gears as per the requirement. However while using the transmission (gear lever), the procedure of a double-tap while engaging the gear or slotting it into parking takes a bit of time getting used to.

Riding on 18-inch wheels, Volvo XC40 does not get an air suspension like Volvo XC60 and XC90. What it does have are regular steel springs with non-adjustable dampers. Despite this, the ride quality is fairly comfortable be it the tarmac or on any broken road surface. In a straight line, the XC40 feels very stable and while cornering this SUV lets the driver be in complete control thanks to the all-wheel drive system aboard. Though there is a bit of body roll but nothing that cannot be handled.

We really like the steering feel of this machine as it is light and gives the right amount of feedback as on drives along. Having driven within the city and on the open-highway, the brakes on Volvo XC40 are really impressive as they offer just the right amount of bite to handle any sort of situation. I personally liked the driving position as you are seated high and get a better view of the road in front.


The Volvo XC40 surely has the potential to dismount competition. Priced at Rs 39.90 lakh (ex-showroom India), the XC40 is offered only in R-Design that comes fully loaded with all-the bells and whistles not to miss out a mention for the radar based technology being provided with this SUV. It looks good on the road and has on-lookers wanting for more. The interiors are premium and comfortable ideal for four occupants. With a refined and a performance oriented diesel powertrain, the XC40 makes for the ideal entry-level premium SUV. As against competition from a price point of view there are German SUV’s (Mercedes Benz GLA, BMW X1 and Audi Q3) that offer a hoard of variants but then again there are many permutation and combinations to contend with. However with Volvo XC40 there is only one variant that offers the best of everything so incase you’re on the look out for an SUV that is out of the box then this one should be your choice.