2018 Volvo XC40 Overview – Changing perceptions
At first glance the 2018 Volvo XC40, which arrives in the U.S. in May next year, bucks the conventional wisdom about how a modern Volvo should look. There’s no studied elegance to the exterior surfaces, no calming Swedish zen to the interior ambience. Instead, there’s a pugnacious swagger to the XC40 inside and out, with forms, materials, and colors that are reminders that not all Scandinavian designs are a riff on birch wood and mid-century furniture.
And that’s exactly what Volvo design chief Thomas Ingenlath intended. He says although the XC90 redefined Volvo for the 21st century, the XC40 provides an opportunity to further change the perception of Volvo and broaden the expression of the vehicles the company makes. “A family look doesn’t necessarily mean they all look like each other,” he says. The design language you see on the XC40 will be echoed on other small Volvos to be built on the new Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) underpinning this compact SUV.
The XC40 is recognizably a Volvo, but it’s distinctively different from the larger 90 and 60 vehicles. The grille has evolved, and the Thor’s hammer daylight running lights given a racier look. The body side features crisp lines over the front and rear wheels and a deep concave section on the doors. At the rear is another variation of Volvo’s long-standing tradition of extending the taillights up the trailing edge of the rear-most pillars.
Most controversial element of the XC40’s sheetmetal is the way the greenhouse is pulled dramatically upward at the rear. On cars painted a single color, the C-pillar can look bulky, but the vast majority of XC40s are likely to be ordered with either the white or black painted roof that will be standard, respectively, on the entry-level Momentum and midlevel R-Sport models.
Inside, the XC40 is a similar mix of the familiar and the new. Volvo’s 12.3-inch TFT instrument panel—used in XC90 and XC60—will be standard across the XC40 range, as will the 9.0-inch infotainment screen in the center of the dash. The minor switchgear is also familiar fare, and like other new Volvos, the XC40 is started by way of twisting a knob on the center console. But the rest is fresh and impressively thought-through.
Volvo has, for example, removed the speakers from the doors to allow storage space for laptop computers and tablets. Those ordering the top-of-the-range Harmon Kardon audio system will still get 13 speakers, including a subwoofer mounted at the base of the windshield, adjacent to the wipers, to further save space. The center console features somewhere to place your phone-and charge it inductively-as well as a cubby that can house a tissue box and a hinged flap to a “waste bin,” along with the requisite retinue of cupholders.
A power rear tailgate is standard, along with power-folding rear seats. The load space floor can be folded in sections to access additional storage underneath. The rigid load space cover, which helps reduce noise, can be clipped into place under the floor when transporting tall objects.
Although the interiors of the 90 and 60 family vehicles are characterized by the use of sophisticated colors and materials, the XC40 will offer bolder and unconventional alternatives, including the availability of orange carpet and felt on the floors and doors in R-Sport models. Decor packs include metals with architectural designs and even rubber with a stylized 3-D map showing parts of Volvo’s hometown of Gothenburg.
Volvo’s new CMA hardware delivers more traditional front-drive proportions and packaging than the SPA platform used for the 90 and 60 family vehicles. The XC40’s dash-to-axle is therefore shorter, but rear-seat accommodation is reasonable for what is basically a high-riding C-segment hatchback. There’s just enough kneeroom for adults to sit behind a tall driver, but there’s plenty of foot and headroom. At 174.2 inches long overall, 73.3 inches wide, and 65.1inches tall, the XC40 is 10.3 inches shorter and 1.5 inches narrower than the XC60. The wheelbase is 106.3 inches—6.5 inches less than that of the XC60.
Two versions of the XC40 will be available in the U.S. at launch, each available in two trim levels—Momentum and R-Sport. The all-wheel-drive T5 gets the 250-hp iteration of Volvo’s turbocharged inline-four under the hood, while the front-drive T4 gets a less powerful version of the engine. Entry-level Momentum trim models of the T4 and T5 will be priced at $33,200 and $35,200, respectively.
Also published on Medium.