New Volvo XC40 - exterior

Volvo shows off the new XC40 [w/ poll]

Just yesterday Volvo finally took the wraps off its latest model, the new XC40. Aimed squarely at the premium compact SUV market, and models like the Audi Q3, BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA and Range Rover Evoque, the XC40 is the first all-new model line the Swedish automarker has introduced since it launched the XC60 in 2008. Seeing as the XC60 did rather well in the European (figures) and US (figures) markets, the question on everyone’s minds is: has Volvo done it again?

It looks rather nice, doesn’t it?

There is no denying the fact that the XC40 is a bit looker. Original in a way that the Q3, X3 and GLA are not, the XC40 manages to combine the best of Volvo’s successful new XC60 and XC90 large SUVs (confident grille, “Thor’s hammer” lights, distinctive rear lights, crisp lines) with new motifs that fit the compact SUV rather well (clamshell bonnet, upswept side line, two-tone paintjob). However, it’s the confidently blocky shape, which refuses to pretend it’s a “coupe” like the Q3 or GLA, combined with sharp side creases that makes the model stand out from among its competitors in a way that no other model since the Evoque has in this class.

Does it carry the Swedish magic into the interior?

It certainly seems like it from the pictures. Although it’s too early to pass judgement on the quality of the materials or the way they’re all screwed together, the early impressions are of an interior that’s every bit as stylish and clutter-free as those in its larger siblings. If anything, it seems to distill the essence of the design that Volvo introduced with the XC90, and takes full advantage of the (standard) 12.3-inch TFT instrument panel and a 9.0-inch infotainment screen to create a look that’s, pardon the use of this word once again, confident in a way that few brands are these days.

OK, but will it be as good to drive as its talented competitors?

This is a tricky one. Historically, Volvo’s ventures into the compact segment have been rather underwhelming. The first generation S40/V40 shared a platform with the lackluster Mitsubishi Carisma (sic!), the second generation took the Ford Focus-derived C1 platform pretty much as far as it would go, but still suffered for being too small compared to its competitors, while the third generation V40 model suffered for being overweight. However, signs are that the XC40 will be a different story: it’ll be the first model based on the brand’s all-new CMA platform, which will also underpin model’s from Geely’s upstart brand Lynk & Co. While the specifications are pretty class-standard (MacPherson strut suspension at the front and a multi-link rear axle, 2.0-liter 4-cyl petrol and diesel engines) they should provide a solid foundation for a soft-riding and safe crossover. For the more demanding, there will be a plug-in hybrid debuting soon with a newly-developed 3-cyl ICE unit. 

So, how well do you think the new XC40 will do? Leave us a comment below and vote in the poll below:

Will the XC40 be as much of a success as its larger siblings?

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