Friday, December 14, 2018

Bucket Seat: Volvo XC40 - R Design

When it comes to cars, the Swedes always tended to do things differently in their own unique way and while most of the world never really got to grasp with their cars, those who did own them, knew what they were on about. Volvo in particular we leads in passenger safety and then the stepped up a notch and also made their cars safe for pedestrians, how so you may ask? Well on certain models they design the crumple zones to minimize injury to a person if he was being hit by one of their vehicles, weird but you got to hand it to them for thinking about everybody. Going back to safety for their own passengers, the XC90 won the title as the worlds safest car and apart from that award, the XC90 was  a major car for the brand, as it ushered in a new dawn for cars that were to follow. Volvo sort of lost track with the styling and consumer appeal with their cars for a bit, and a drastic change was needed to get the brand recognised again. 

Apart from just building an attractive car, it had to be up their competing with the best in the world in terms of engine performance while still being eco-friendly and have all the technology that others offer. The XC90 not only ticked all those boxes but did it style, finesse all while keeping to that legendary Swedish heritage. Not long ago I got to sample a spin off model from the XC90, a baby version of it if I may call it that, the XC40. Although my time with the car was short, it was my first experience with the new generation Volvo's and it left me flabbergasted as to what it had to offer. 


Looking at it from the outside, one could sit stare at it for hours on end. It's contemporary design is fresh and modern which not only gets heads turning while you drive past them but it can also fit in with modern day architecture so well. It's almost like a showpiece where you can have it parked off in your lounge and it would look like part of the decor. The combination of straight lines, contours and beveled edges really add character to the XC40 while key design elements iconic to Volvo still stand out like the L shaped rear lights and the grille with some new features which will form part of future designs from the brand. I had the R-Design kit on this particular model which is Volvo's sport package for their cars, easy ways to identify this is the large 20" 5 spoke split rims, and the two tone paint work with the roof being finished in black with the rest of the car in white with black accents. The contemporary styling also flows into the cabin with everything looking fresh and modern. One striking thing about the interior is that it was orange in colour, well not all of it, just the lower half which I found quite quirky but it worked! This car is the baby of the crossover line up and it looks to be playful so I'm glad that also transcends into the colours available for it. 


I had the D4 AWD model XC40 which is the only diesel variant available, with the cost of fuel, it would be the preferred engine for the consumer. The power output on the 2 litre motor is quite decent with it delivering 140kW with 190 Bhp and 400Nm of torque waiting to get you off the mark. So as you can imagine the XC40 isn't a slouch and while it might be a bit bulky, navigating it is pretty easy, too easy if you ask me. The first thing you notice on the car is how light the steering is, it's like you get power steering then you get Volvo's super power steering! I could legit use 1 finger to turn it. Handling on the XC40 is exceptional, whether you're going around town or on the open road, the XC40 makes the most of the road in front of it. I even did some light off roading with it, which didn't break a sweat for it, eating up the gravel and leaving a big trail of dust behind. 


Sticking with the awards, Volvo's V90 won the most comfortable seat award recently and I can tell you the XC40 seats and pretty darn comfy as well. While the car is the smallest crossover offered by Vovlo, they do not compromise on comfort. The cabin is spacious for every individual that is in it. The ride quality is pretty great as well, even with the car riding on 20" rims this doesn't influence any cabin noise or compromise the ride comfort. The cabin is completely air-conditioned with dual climate control for the front passengers and the rear having their own vents. the car came with a 600W 14 speaker Harmon Kardon Premium Sound System which made any song sound exceptional in the car. I keep coming back to the design of the car because its a design that works and works well, everything is thought of and functional, that's ultimately what you want in a car interior and full marks to Volvo for getting this right. 


Where do I start? Lets go with the obvious, the massive screen that sits in the dash, this is the brain of the car. Fully touch screen interactive menu lets you control just about everything in the car. With most of it controlled by this, it uncluttered the rest of the dash. It does seem daunting at first but it can be made more easier with you customizing the screen for your convenience. The big screen comes handy when parking, while it did come with the auto park feature, the XC40 also has 4 cameras around the car to give you a birds eye view of your surroundings when getting in out of tricky spaces. One of the main talking points about the new Volvo's is the Pilot Assist, which is as close to autonomy as you can get. Coupled with the adaptive cruise control, you can set the speed you want to go at and the car will do the driving for you. It monitors the cars around you and is alert to dangers that may spring out. Seeing it in action is quite an experience, having the car take full control and slowing down while maintaining a safe following distance to the car in front is spell binding to say the least. Other key safety teach features include lane keeping aid, run-off mitigation, oncoming lane mitigation, city safety and many others which are too long to list. 


Overall the XC40 exceeds it's reputation in the market and really is one of the better compact SUV's you can buy. The features the car comes with coupled by the brilliant design and technology offered is hard to find another that can come close to match it in terms of pricing. While the model I had does raise a few eyebrows when mentioned the actual cost, you have to understand that all the options were ticked in this spec and if you had to spec a competitor model with the same extras you would be paying a lot more. While Volvo are trying to take some market share from their German competitors, models like the XC40 are not going to do them any harm, with the SA market taking a liking to the XC90 and the S90, future models like the S60 and the new XC60 will only strengthen their cause. This is one brand to be on the look out for going forward, I hope we get some of their Polestar models at some stage too. 


2L Four-cylinder turbo charged disel
 Gear Box
8 Speed Geartronic Automatic AWD
7.9 seconds
5.7 L/100km
R 494,400*
*Excluding extras

Pictures by @MVRC1988

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