As far as mid-life refreshes go, the XC40 hasn’t had any. What it did get is a hormone treatment to clean its system of the toxic gases. So now you get a petrol engine that is BS6 certified and makes 190bhp with 300Nm – numbers that are par for the course, and now, in line with the most stringent government norms.
It doesn’t like a facelift, not even a botox, but that’s not a bad thing since the XC40 was always one of the most well-proportioned midsize SUVs in the segment. Distinctively Scandinavian yet instantly likeable, Volvo has tried hard to distinguish it from the bigger XC60 and XC90 siblings and it worked well.
With the new heart, comes new manners too. Gone is the AWD drivetrain, so now you just get a FWD option mated to an 8-speed automatic. This has helped shed some weight, and for an SUV that sits tall, there is surprisingly little roll or pitch in the ride. The steering is pleasantly light but also accurate. Just don’t go looking for “feel” and “communication”, it doesn’t pretend to be a Porsche Carrera and it won’t need to either.
The engine is refined on idle and has sufficient zip to make overtaking moves on the highway easy, but there is a bit of lag in the gearbox, so you’ll have to step on the throttle a couple of seconds before you actually get going. It also doesn’t sound particularly happy when pushed hard, but once at cruising speeds, the 2.0 litre petrol motor is easy and frugal if you keep it in the right gear.
The comfy seats with drivers-side getting memory, wireless charging pad, 13-speaker Harman Kardon audio and the myriad of active safety features go a long way in making the XC40 hold its own against the competition. But what really makes this car an overall great package is how it shines in key areas like ride comfort, insulation and feel-good factor. The ride, even on the 18in tyres, is supple without being too soft around corners or during vertical movement. The quiet cabin means you can spend hours in stop-go traffic or intercity travelling without the honking or road noise ever becoming a bother. And the feel-good factor comes from the awesome-sounding Harman Kardon sound system that packs in 600W of power; it’s more about how well it plays rather than how loud it plays. The 3D surround genuinely puts instruments around different areas of the cabin, immersing you in a 360 experience that makes short work of any long journey. The bass, with Volvo’s AirWoofer technology, is deep, punchy and with heft that is rarely heard in a car with a stock system. And although it’s not as crisp and detailed as the more expensive Bowers & Wilkins option in the more expensive XC60/XC90, it holds its own pretty well.
Radar-based safety tech is another USP in this segment that no one else boasts of. You get Lane Keeping Assist, Collision Avoidance, Adaptive Cruise Control, Parking Assistance, Hill Ascent and Descent, six airbags… the list is long and everything actually works instead of being a tick on the brochure. But you do have to be aware of the collision mitigation system if it’s on; it’s very sensitive for Indian traffic conditions. Even a jaywalker 5ft from the car will trigger emergency braking, and in congested traffic, this could very well get you tail-ended by the motorist behind you. It’s best left to off in crowded patches.
The only thing that is missed from the earlier AWD diesel are the bright orange inserts on the door panels and foot wells. It made the XC40 quirky enough without being too extremist. Now it gets an all-black interior just like any other SUV and makes things a little bit duller. The huge panoramic sunroof does compensate a fair bit, but Volvo should’ve used this opportunity to add better ambient lighting in the cabin.
Quality is as good as before though with soft touch materials, a great steering feel and a 9in tablet-like screen that keeps the cabin clutter-free yet not too difficult to operate using touch controls. I personally love the retention of a proper volume control knob and media controls; it just makes it more tangible and also aids in immediate changes. The digital instrument cluster is great for navigation views, but there is nothing besides that to write home about. It’s clear and functional, and won’t set your pulses racing. There are drive modes to choose from if you do wish to alter your heart rate, but all of them only play around with the throttle response and steering weight while the Off-road mode activates the Hill Descent control. There are no active dampers here even as an option, but the standard suspension soaks up everything beautifully.
The XC40 is a great all-rounder that does everything well and nothing extraordinarily. That’s not a bad thing at all because it’s not something that many of its lopsided peers can boast of. It’s a comfortable SUV to live with, a great cabin to be in and packed to the gills with features you will actually use.