This small Sports Utility Vehicle is Volvo’s next big seller
THIS IS THE new Volvo XC40, by which we mean it’s the first one. Volvo has two Sports Utility Vehicles in its line-up but this is the brand’s first small one, slotting in below the XC60 that was just launched in Singapore.
In pushing out the XC40, the Swedish brand is merely responding to a global trend. The segment is booming, and it’s no longer enough for a carmaker to have one or two SUVs or crossovers in its line up.
That said, the XC40 will likely be the final new SUV from Volvo. The brand says it “completes” its SUV family, so don’t expect the Swedes to product SUV-coupe mashups like the BMW X4 or Mercedes GLC Coupe.
Meanwhile, here’s what you need to know about the new baby Volvo SUV:
What’s with the white roof?
Pretty, innit? The fact that the roof can be bought in while tells you that Volvo is rapidly evolving into a sort of design company that builds cars.
The brand’s latest models are eye-catching, to say the least, and the XC40 is no different, with chunky lines and playful details — check out the rear doors and their upward sweep, for instance. Don’t worry, though. You can still have one with a more conventional black roof.
Is the inside nice?
From the pictures: very. There’s much of the same attention-to-detail and simplicity that’s evident in the XC60, and it certainly looks like the materials are the same soft-touch, expensive stuff in the bigger Volvos.
At the heart of the cabin is a touchscreen system, that cuts down button-clutter. Incidentally, Tesla Motors generally gets the credit for coming up with the idea of putting a tablet computer in the centre of the dashboard, but a Volvo designer told us that the Swedes started work on it first.
Doesn’t look very spacious, though
It probably isn’t. The rear, in particular, looks like it might not be the most welcoming place to occupy. The doors look like they’ll give the cabin a shut-in feeling back there.
The XC60 is smaller in the back than some rivals, too, so maybe Volvo is thinking that looks are more important than space in the segment.
Still, Volvo says it’s given the cabin some clever features, such as inductive phone charging and a removable waste bin.
What’s under the bonnet?
It’ll enter production with D4 diesel and T5 petrol powertrains, with hybrid as well as full electric versions on the way. More interesting to Singaporeans is the fact that it will be the first Volvo to receive the brand’s new 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo engines.
How much China influence is there?
That’s a question only a Sinophobe would ask, but as a matter of fact the XC40 will be the first new Volvo to be built on the Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) that was co-developed with Geely, Volvo’s parent.
Small cars are generally less profitable, so Geely’s involvement is crucial to the XC40’s success. Volvo will also use CMA to build the next S40 and V40 models, but sharing the tech with (or borrowing it from) Geely was necessary to reach the scale to make it work.
Mercedes has four models on its small car platform, and at least nine cars are supported by the front-drive architecture that BMW and Mini share.
Anyway, it’s wrong-minded to think that Geely is affecting Volvo negatively. Geely saved Volvo.
But will it be safe?
It’s still a Volvo, so yes. The main structure makes liberal use of high-strength steel, and it’ll be packed with driver assistance systems: Pilot Assist system, City Safety, Run-off Road Protection and Mitigation, Cross Traffic Alert with brake support, and a 360-degree camera that helps drivers manoeuvre their car into tight parking spaces. Of course, how many of these actually make it onto Singapore-spec cars has yet to be finalised.
When can I see it?
With any luck, it’ll be at the Singapore Motorshow 2018. That’s the plan, but nothing’s been confirmed. The car XC40 will be made in Belgium, so if there are production delays that prevent it from being at the motorshow, blame the Belgians, not the Chinese.