Text and photos by Manny N. de los Reyes
ENTHUSIASTS of Swedish premium car maker Volvo know that the title of this article is redundant. That’s because the “XC” in the model name of this week’s test car stands for “Cross Country.”
The XC series of Volvo began with the XC70 of 2003. That long-lived model (its two generations ran until 2016) had a huge “CROSS COUNTRY” decal on its tailgate. That seminal XC model was joined by the XC90 large SUV and the midsize XC60, both of which are still on the market and helping Volvo achieve record sales growth in the last few years.
Then just two years ago, Volvo launched its groundbreaking XC40 compact SUV. The year after that, it was awarded European Car of the Year. Not bad, considering there were new models launched by Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Porsche, and other European brands that were strong contenders for the award.
The XC40 is a landmark model for Volvo, as it’s the very first compact SUV for the Swedish car maker. The XC40 completes Volvo’s global lineup of premium SUVs, completing the triumvirate with the midsize XC60 and the large XC90 flagship. The XC40 marks, for the first time in Volvo’s long, illustrious history, three new premium SUVs in what is the fastest growing segment of the world car market.
The XC40 is the first model on Volvo’s new Compact Modular Architecture (CMA), which will underpin all other upcoming cars in the 40 Series including its upcoming electric vehicles.
The new CMA delivers an energized feel — alert, precise, responsive and connected — perfect for winding country roads or busy urban traffic while still delivering Volvo’s renowned superb riding comfort.
Volvo’s CMA-based cars have an electro-mechanical rack and pinion steering system that delivers the precision the latter is known for and the effortless maneuverability of electric assist. As you would expect from a Volvo, its clever software is optimized for all weather conditions.
The XC40 offers a selection of optional Drive Modes — Eco, Comfort, Dynamic, Off-Road, and Driver-Defined — that tailor the driving experience according to driver preference and driving conditions.
I got to drive the flagship XC40 — the P3,895,000 T5 R-Design variant. (The range starts at P3,350,000.)
The all-wheel drive XC40 T5 R-Design is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder petrol engine with developing 247hp and 350Nm of torque. It’s mated to an 8-speed Geartronic automatic transmission with paddle shifters.
Thanks to a suite of driver-assist safety systems, Volvo brings a new safety standard to the compact luxury SUV segment with the XC40. The car is designed to reduce driver distraction and the so-called cognitive load on the driver. Volvo believes that with safety and driver assistance systems actively identifying and mitigating potential conflicts, driving becomes more enjoyable and stress-free.
Features optimized for city driving include a high seating position that gives the driver a clear view of the road, the latest generation City Safety, a 360-degree camera, and Cross Traffic Alert with brake support to assist the driver in reversing and parking situations. Volvo’s cutting-edge Pilot Assist enables semi-autonomous driving during parts of the daily commute.
Needless to say, the XC40 comes with standard Volvo safety features such as ergonomic seats with anti-submarining protection, Side Impact Protection System (SIPS), and Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS), Volvo-invented three-point safety belts and advanced restraints system, and a range of air bags all designed to help protect the occupants in the event of an accident.
Run-off Road Mitigation, Oncoming Lane Mitigation, Driver Alert Control, Road Sign Information, and Lane Keeping Aid are also some of the advanced safety systems that can be found in the XC40.
Volvo’s Swedish engineers and designers approach connectivity, entertainment, navigation, and car control systems from a completely different perspective — a human-centric one. This has led to a more thought-through and curated approach to connected services, native applications, and smartphone integration.
The Swedes understand that certain technologies are essential in today’s connected world. Making them easy, safe and enjoyable to use in a car is Volvo’s primary concern. Anything that does not actively add to the user experience is not included. Only the most relevant and recent technology is used. This in-car user interface is what Volvo calls Sensus.
Volvo’s cutting-edge Sensus solution is based on the concept of a fully connected and enjoyable experience in the car. The company uses the latest and most relevant technology to deliver a superior user interface and an enjoyable user experience based on what people want and what makes their lives easier.
Volvo understands what people want — seamless connectivity and an easy-to-use interface that allows them to access services and applications that they have become used to outside the car.
Sensus is designed around five basic behaviors and desires: Entertainment, Connectivity, Navigation, Services, and Control. By delivering a suite of applications and interfaces that support these basic and most human of requirements, Volvo has created an award-winning and groundbreaking approach to in-car technology — not surprising from a country that brought you the innovation and elegant simplicity of Ikea and Spotify.
Individualism is at the center with the new colorful Volvo XC40. The XC40 takes Volvo into new areas and allows its designers the freedom to create a car that brings a vibrancy, individuality, and playfulness heretofore unseen in the brand — or even in its small premium rivals.
Volvo chief designer Thomas Ingenlath wanted the XC40 to be a fresh, creative, and distinctive member of the Volvo line, allowing its drivers to put their personality in sheetmetal form. He describes XC40 drivers to be interested in fashion, design, and popular culture, and often live in large, vibrant cities — and want a car that reflects their personality.
Street fashion, city architecture, high-end designer goods and popular culture were all sources of inspiration as Volvo’s design team defined materials, patterns and color options for the new XC40.
The XC40 offers a broader and more playful color palette as well as dramatic two-tone applications you’d otherwise only see in a Mini Cooper. The XC40 is, hands down, the most expressive model in Volvo’s portfolio — even considering its coupe, convertible and hatchback stablemates, past and present.
With all these features and more, European premium SUV connoisseurs can expect the XC40 to deliver benefits that will bring go-anywhere motoring to the next level. With expressive design, solid all-around performance, ingenious storage, and uniquely Scandinavian style, build quality, and luxury, the Volvo XC40 is set to raise the bar in the genre.