Volvo XC40: everything you need to know

Published: 16 October 2019

Volvo XC40 baby crossover
 First details of EV and T5 PHEV
 Plus new engines, specs for 2020 

Volvo is updating its popular XC40 crossover for the 2020 model year, with a raft of new engine specs, equipment and paint colours available.

Volvo XC40 2020 model year

The T3 three-cylinder petrol engine gets more power and the option of an automatic transmission, while the T4 petrol is now available with two-wheel drive as well as AWD (saving £1400 in the process, trimming 0.1sec off the 0-62mph and boosting combined economy by 3mpg). Equipment is gently improved across the board with the addition of auto-folding door mirrors, a locking glovebox and extra 12v power sockets, while a flurry of new paint choices is launched too: Thunder Grey, Glacier Silver and Pebble Grey.

The 2020 model year XC40 range is on sale now, priced from £28,965 in the UK.

Further electric car reading

Volvo XC40: our introduction to the smaller Swedish SUV

The XC40 range was officially unveiled in Milan in late 2017 before UK sales started in February 2018, marking the company’s first proper go at the baby SUV market. The new car kicked off modern-era Volvo’s third and, for now, final model line, the 40-series.

Volvo XC40 SUV unveiled

It’s built around a new compact car platform Volvo calls CMA (Compact Modular Architecture), which will be shared with the Swedish car maker’s Chinese parent company, Geely.

This is the right car at the right time for Volvo. Speaking at the car’s unveil, company president Håkan Samuelsson says the XC40 is ‘intended for a very important segment – probably the world’s fastest-growing segment: small, premium SUVs. So we have the right product for the future.’

Production started at Volvo’s Ghent factory in Belgium in November 2017. First deliveries in the UK began early in 2018.

Looks familiar…

The XC40’s styling remains very faithful to that of the well-received Concept 40.1 show car originally revealed in May 2016.

Its kicked-up rear door windowline and broad-based C-pillar are particularly striking, lending the design a different, blockier vibe from the larger XC60 and XC90 siblings. Lead exterior designer Ian Kettle describes it as ‘a tough little robot. It’s a new design – it’s not a scale model of a 90- or 60-series car,’ he says.

Volvo XC40 is a 'tough little robot'

Now-classic Volvo details like ‘Thor’s Hammer’ LED headlight graphics and tall L-shaped tail-lights are all present, but the new crossover has deliberately blocky surfacing, and a more energetic colour palette than the sober shades offered on its sibling models.

The pale Amazon Blue option (pictured in the gallery combined with a white roof and mirrors) is so-called because it’s the exact same shade as a paint code offered on the 1964 Volvo Amazon.

What about the rest of the 40 series? The XC40 won’t be the only Volvo on the CMA platform, will it?

The XC40 is the first in a new line of 40-series cars that are expected to include two other models: a brand-new V40 hatch, and a more elongated saloon-style variant, likely to be called the S40, which could muscle in on BMW 3-series/Audi A4 territory. Its potential styling direction was hinted at by the high-riding ‘notchback’ 40.2 concept.

Trademark Thor's Hammer headlights on the Volvo XC40

That means the present Volvo range is now split into the 40-series, 60-series and 90-series. In the medium-term future, its line-up is expected to include three models in each series. The 90-series range is complete, comprising the XC90 SUV, S90 saloon and V90 estate.

Both the 90- and 60-series use Volvo’s larger SPA (Scalable Product Architecture) platform.

Engines: four-pots for now, with new three-cylinder, hybrids and EVs on the way

At launch, nothing but 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engines power the new XC40 – much like the rest of the current Volvo family. Downsized T3 three-cylinder models quickly followed suit, however.

Initially, the XC40 was available with a D4 diesel or T5 petrol 4-cyl engine from Volvo’s current Drive-E family. Over the coming months, that expanded to include three petrol options, and two diesels:

  • 154bhp T3 (front-wheel drive only, manual gearbox)
  • 187bhp T4 (all-wheel drive, auto gearbox)
  • 244bhp T5 (AWD, auto gearbox – should be pretty brisk)
  • 148bhp D3 (FWD or AWD, manual as standard, auto an option)
  • 187bhp D4 (AWD, auto)

The XC40 is the first Volvo to feature the new three-cylinder T3 engine, co-developed with Geely. A hybrid and a pure EV version are coming too, in line with Volvo’s recent announcement that all of its cars will be electrified in some way by 2020.

Volvo XC40 interior: clean, modern and crammed with tech

Clean, upmarket interior styling is a hallmark of modern Volvos, and the XC40 is no exception, despite its lower price point. It features a related portrait infotainment screen to its larger siblings and a similarly clean design, along with a chunky gearlever and a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster.

Tablet-style touchscreen in Volvo XC40's cabin

There’s a pull-out tray in each front seat, a handy removable rubbish bin in the transmission tunnel console and a smartphone space with wireless inductive charging available as an option. An ear-pleasing 1200W Harmon Kardon stereo is also on the extras list.

One of the most distinctive features is the use of felt as the principle material throughout the door linings – lots of cars have felt inside the door bins to help with sound deadening, but the XC40 extends it all the way across the door inners to make a memorable visual and textual statement. The same felt material (made from 97% recycled plastic bottles) is used on the side of the transmission tunnel, too.

Some unusually bold interior colours are available – not least the bright Lava Orange option for the carpets and felt sections.

There’s no bass speaker in the doors – instead it’s mounted behind the dash, in the firewall – to free up space for doorbins big enough to accommodate a box of tissues, or a laptop, for example.

What kind of safety tech is on the standard spec list?

  • Pilot Assist – semi-autonomous driving technology, available as an option on every XC40 variant. It assists with steering to keep the car within its lane markings at speeds of up to 80mph, self brakes and accelerates, and keeps a set distance from vehicles in front.
  • City Safety – an automatic emergency braking system, which can detect pedestrians, cyclists and large animals as well as other vehicles
  • Cross Traffic alert – triggers a warning when reversing out of a parking space into the path of moving traffic, for example
  • 360-degree parking camera
  • Oncoming Traffic Mitigation – linked to the same systems used by Pilot Assist, warns if you move out of your lane into the path of an oncoming vehicle and ‘provides steering assistance to guide you back into your lane’

New ‘Care by Volvo’ subscription service

Making its debut on the XC40 is a new initiative from Volvo that aims to make ‘having a car as transparent, easy and hassle-free as owning a phone.’

Called Care by Volvo, it’s a 24-month subscription at a flat monthly rate, which includes insurance, tax and servicing. Volvo describes the service as ‘the world’s first subscription model for cars,’ and is keen to point out that it’s a different model from that of leasing a car.

Volvo XC40's rear light cluster

Customers get a new car every 24 months, and can share their car with selected family or friends via a ‘digital key.’

The XC40 is the first Volvo model available through the Care by Volvo scheme, but it will be rolled out across other models in the company’s range over the coming months. Initial work on the scheme began two years ago, and it’s launched officially today (21 September 2017).

Initially it will be made available in the United States and in various European markets, including the UK. Others will follow. The monthly rate is the same across Europe, and unaffected by the age of the customer.

Bird's-eye view of the Volvo XC40's cabin

In the UK, introductory price is £629 a month for 24 months, and initially available only on T5 and D4 Momentum models, and more pertinently, only to people living within the M25 to begin with. Other variants, and further-flung customers, will be made available at a later date.

Thomas Andersson vice president of Care by Volvo describes the service thus:

‘Many people subscribe to different kinds of services today. So we asked ourselves, what about cars? Care by Volvo is a premium offer, that you access via an online subscription at a flat rate. And it includes many services like insurance, taxes, service and repair.’

Concierge services available as part of the scheme include picking up your car and taking it to be serviced, getting your car cleaned, and even refuelling it, by arrangement. Internet shopping services may also be able to deliver goods to the boot of customers’ cars.

During subscription, Care by Volvo customers can also get access to a different Volvo at certain times of the year – if they want a bigger car for a trip away, for example. It’s also a handy way of enticing customers to try out different Volvo models ahead of their subscription running out, one imagines…

How much does the new Volvo XC40 cost?

In the UK, assuming you’re buying the car the old-fashioned way and not through the Care by Volvo package, prices start at £27,905 for a T3 petrol-engined front-wheel-drive Momentum model. The equivalent diesel D4 costs £28,965.

Momentum is the bottom rung of three trim levels, below R-Design and Inscription. A limited number of cars will be sold from launch as kit-laden First Edition variants, available only with the T5 and D4 engines.

Distinctive headlights on the Volvo XC40

The base Momentum versions feature a 9-inch touchscreen (similar to that of the 90-series and new XC60 models) with sat-nav and rear parking sensors, and are all fitted with distinctive-looking LED headlights and 18-inch alloy wheels. A contrast colour roof is an option, as is a choice of white or black alloys up to 21 inches in diameter. A T3 R-Design starts from £29,755.

R-Design is a more aggressive-looking option with body kit – gloss black grille, black roof and mirrors and dual exhaust tips, along with slightly firmer sports suspension. This trim’s been a popular one on previous Volvos sold in the UK.

Volvo XC40's cabin finished in red leather

Inscription is the poshest trim, with lots of chrome, leather, driftwood dashboard trim, front parking sensors and a powered tailgate. There’s also a dubiously bling-tastic crystal gearlever on auto versions.

Each trim is also available in ‘Pro’ form, with bigger wheels and yet more kit. A top-of-the tree Inscription Pro T5 will cost £37,905.

Read all of CAR’s Volvo reviews

By James Taylor

CAR's deputy features editor, occasional racer