Despite its entry-level positioning, you still get the sense that an effort has been made to make the Momentum-grade XC40 feel like it belongs towards the premium end of the compact SUV segment.
Volvo’s large, 9.0in portrait-oriented Sensus touchscreen dominates the centre of the dash, flanked by stylised air vents; while a patterned dashboard graphic injects a dash of flair into a cabin where dark soft-touch plastics have been used fairly liberally. The overall effect is a cabin that perhaps isn’t as quite as h as those of the larger members of Volvo’s XC-family SUVs, but one that’s still certainly in keeping with the XC40’s more debonair image.
Ergonomics are spot on too, with plenty of adjustability both the driver’s seat and steering column making it easy to get comfortable behind the wheel. Space in the back, meanwhile, is decent but not particularly outstanding. The rear seats are rather small for adult-sized passengers, although leg- and headroom are reasonable. Just be warned that opting for the £1,000 panoramic sunroof will compromise this somewhat.
That new T4 engine suits the XC40 well, too. It’s reasonably hushed on start-up and at idle, and remains unintrusive at cruising speeds. A practicably wide torque spread (1400rpm to 4000rpm) means there isn’t a huge need to work the engine hard to make progress either - it’ll pull willingly enough from about 1500rpm, though does so with more conviction from above 2100rpm. And while it’s reasonably happy to be revved out, it does start to run out of puff from above 5000rpm.
Gear changes are generally seamless on the move, though the eight-speed box does have a tendency to upshift a touch earlier than you might like when pressing on, meaning that acceleration out of corners can be slightly delayed while it selects a lower gear. However, this is easily solved by switching to Dynamic mode, which made the transmission far more willing to hold on to its selected gear.
As for its on-road composure, the standard suspension set-up of our Momentum-spec test car did see it lose some of the dynamic verve that so impressed us in the sportier R-Design and First Edition models. While far from uncomfortable, there was an underlying sense of jostle about the XC40’s ride at low speeds, while roll about its lateral axis was notable through bends, too.
Front-end grip meanwhile, felt a bit on the short side, with the Volvo defaulting to understeer with little in the way of provocation on slippery roads. As for its steering, it remains characteristically light and floaty at low speeds, though weights up nicely with a degree more pace.