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First test drive: 2019 Volvo XC40

Ten years ago, we never thought Volvo would be launching its third SUV after redesigning its large S90 sedan the year before. Indeed, the Swedish brand was lost a decade ago. An aging S60, an XC90 that had lost its luster … the brand was essentially going nowhere. Today, Volvo is slowly turning the corner, and everything that comes out of the Gothenburg factory is a success, both from a sales standpoint and by the amount of awards these new models are winning.

Volvo XC40

The most concrete proof of this rebirth is the 2019 Volvo XC40 that I had the opportunity to drive to Barcelona in December. I must admit from the outset that I loved the new entry-level SUV from the Swedish manufacturer. It’s essentially like its big brothers the XC60 and XC90, and that’s a very good thing.

It is elegant, very spacious and more comfortable than any of his rivals. It has more power on paper than them as well, but you don’t really notice it out on the road, and this is perhaps its only flaw. Otherwise, it’s easy to love the XC40, and it’s easy to get behind the wheel and get on the road.

It is full of storage space and even offers a trash bin. It’s the first vehicle to my knowledge that provides a thrash receptacle in the center consol. It’s an SUV that focuses on practicality while being very well designed at every level. Its cabin takes the style of the other two SUVs of the brand, and you immediately notice how elegant everything is inside. I repeat, it’s easy to love the XC40.

A T5 engine that isn’t as powerful as one would think

No, it’s not perfect. Let’s start with this 2.0-liter T5 turbo engine developing 248 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. On paper, it’s the most powerful entry-level engine in the segment, by far. On the road, it can be a little hesitant and you certainly aren’t pushed into your seat when you floor the right pedal.

There is no lack of power and you can pass with confidence, sure. But, when you look at the specs, you think you will feel a rather impressive difference in power compared to an Audi Q3, a Mercedes-Benz GLA or a BMW X1, and it is not the case.

On other hand, this engine has the distinction of being incredibly smooth. There is no hesitation on the part of the turbo, and the eight-speed automatic gearbox performs very well as well. In addition, the engine is remarkably quiet.

In other words, this engine is designed to preserve the DNA of the Swedish brand’s vehicles. They were not designed to carve a race track. Rather, they offer silky comfort, a sophisticated and quiet interior, and a drive that immediately puts you at ease.

This is where the XC40 will impress you. The interior is large for a vehicle of this size, and storage spaces are everywhere. The compartment in the door can accommodate a laptop, and wherever you look there is space for our cell phones, our wallets, and everything we do not want to drag in our pockets. The infotainment system looks like a big iPad and it takes a while to get used to it. Even after several months, some owners might find it a bit too complex on a daily basis, but visually it’s stunning.

Once behind the wheel, the XC40’s solid, stable and predictable handling makes us want to drive for a long time. On the highway, it is poised, even when the road is in bad condition. In town, its visibility is near perfect, and it also offers an automatic braking system called City Safety that is active up to 60 km/h and can automatically brake when another vehicle, pedestrian or even a large animal is detected and the driver does not react.

The 2019 Volvo XC40 is available starting at $ 42,100. You’ll need to move fast, however, if you want to buy it because already several orders have been placed and its availability will be limited during its first year on the market.

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