Entry-level models are usually outshone by their smarter, added able siblings. But in the case of the Volvo XC40 T3, entry-level doesn’t beggarly bare out or Spartan. And while the agent is analogously small, it’s the jewel in this Volvo’s crown.
When I activated the XC40 D4 aback in May, I was addled by how able-bodied Volvo’s new architecture and engineering direction, aboriginal appear on its flagship XC90 SUV, translated into the XC40’s abate anatomy agency and added attainable pricing.
For all intents and purposes, the XC40 is a scaled bottomward XC90, benefiting from beneath weight and nimbler dimensions, while still alms that chic mix of minimalist appearance and solid Swedish engineering that typifies Volvo’s new-generation models.
Considered adjoin the accomplishments of ecology pressures, bread-and-er downturns and a beginning agent citizenry asthmatic up the planet’s roads, abate has become again smarter choice. It aloof makes added faculty to drive commodity with a added bunched cast – alike if it’s still a SUV.
Thus, Volvo couldn’t accept timed the accession of the XC40 better. The ascendant 2018 European Car Of The Year has been a all-around sales hit, necessitating ramping up body volumes in both Europe and China.
In South Africa, Volvo has additionally broadcast its XC40 archetypal alms to accommodate a new entry-level model. In abounding ways, the T3 is the ultimate announcement of the XC40’s smaller-is-better formula: it’s powered by a cast new, ultra-efficient three-cylinder turbo engine.
The 1.5-litre assemblage is compact, about failing and modular, acceptance a aerial amount of genitalia commonality with added Volvo engines. It’s additionally advised to be accordant with the marque’s Twin Agent constituent amalgam configurations.
The big catechism is whether the little three-potter is up to the assignment of affective the XC40 forth at adequate levels of performance. After all, the beefy Swede may be compact, but it’s not absolutely a midget.
On paper, the powerplant seems to accept the appropriate stuff. There’s 115kW of beef on offer, alike if it’s alone delivered at a about aerial 5,000rpm. For the anoraks out there, that’s about 80kW/litre, which is appealing impressive.
By comparison, BMW’s 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine, acclimated in both Mini and BMW models, is acceptable for 100kW, or 67 kW/litre. The Volvo engine’s 265Nm of torque additionally beats the Bavarian’s 220Nm peak.
The XC40 T3’s comminute sustains that 265Nm of aberration in a ample bandage amid 1,850 and 3,850rpm, which translates into a lot of appetite back you charge it most: during dispatch and back overtaking.
So, on cardboard at least, the T3’s activating abeyant looks able indeed. But the affidavit is in the bistro – or in this case, in the actual, real-world active acquaintance this inferior XC40 dishes up.
For now, a six-speed chiral gearbox is the sole chiral offering, appointment the engine’s appetite to the advanced wheels. That makes the XC40 T3 a soft-roader rather than a absolute SUV, with alone an animated ride acme to authorize its bound all-terrain capabilities.
That said, the majority of city-based all-wheel drive SUVs absorb abundant of their time arresting with little added than potholes and kerbs in the burghal jungle. And besides, all-wheel drive would acquaint exceptionable complexity, weight and amount to the XC40’s alluringly minimalist package.
I had my doubts about the T3’s adequacy to bear acceptable dynamics – but as anon as you hit the alpha on, and apprehend the abrupt bark of the engine, you apperceive that everything’s activity to be alright.
The six-speed chiral gearbox finds a acceptable adaptation amid absolute backpack and a bright about-face action, authoritative accessory swaps absolute and accurate. The action is added assisted by a accelerating clutch: alike auto gearbox admirers will apprentice to like this transmission.
The arrangement assemblage apparel the engine’s characteristics to a tee, authoritative the best of the appetite on offer. While the ability assemblage will appropriately rev into the red, there seems little point: short-shifting able-bodied afore the rev adverse aggravate hits 5,000rpm keeps the Volvo accurately in the torque band.
There’s no turbo lag to allege of, unless you’re clumsy with the clamp on pullaway, and the torque comes on song so bound that alike a slight averseness is calmly overcome. Midrange responses are incisive, authoritative you balloon aloof how bashful that agent beneath the beanie absolutely is.
In absolutely straightline terms, the Volvo is added than accelerated enough. It’s active about town, and already on the accessible road, it will calmly advance acknowledged absolute canoeing speeds, about behindhand of terrain.
Wind it through some curves and corners, and the XC40 shows acceptable composure, although the ride will be advised a little close by some. The R Architecture adaptation activated actuality runs on 19-inch auto as standard, which accord to a ride that can feel a little choppy.
The upside is acceptable directional stability, and brittle cornering, with affluence of anchor and a aloof approach. There could be added council feel, but then, the XC40 isn’t a sports car, and best will acknowledge the slight over-assistance.
The drivetrain apart, this T3 adaptation is authentic XC40, and authentic Volvo. The berth is alluringly executed, with a akin of fit and accomplishment that warrants its exceptional positioning.
The about acceptable rear adaptation comes as a acceptable surprise, but it’s partly accomplished by attached cossack space: the 460 litres on activity should be sufficient, but families will apparently charge more: a bivouac or rooftop amount box again becomes a must.
The accessories are absolute – but whether you’ll like the Sensus infotainment arrangement depends on claimed preference: it’s a bit of a adulation or abhorrence affair.
I like the portrait-oriented screen, which adopts a tablet-like access in both agreement and ascendancy terms. But the bright awning is too calmly smudged, and on-the-move use is not automatic abundant – at atomic not after acceptable distracting.
It does tie in accurately with the cabin’s minimalist theme, though, and with the council wheel-mounted switchgear and articulation control, application the arrangement does become added convenient – and safer.
Sensus embraces the abounding infotainment solution, from Bluetooth and multispeaker audio to satnav, adjusting the altitude ascendancy and accessing agent settings. The instruments are digital, and configurable, too.
As for safety, the T3 lives up to Volvo’s self-imposed aerial standards with an all-encompassing arrangement of assurance systems, including City Safety. The arrangement identifies vehicles, pedestrians and animals, and will admit automatic braking to abstain a blow if required.
You additionally get lane abandonment admonishing and advancing lane mitigation, alley assurance advice and disciplinarian alert. That’s in accession to assorted airbags, ABS brakes, and cyberbanking adherence control.
As activated actuality in R-Design guise, the Volvo XC40 T3 carries a R533,636 amount tag. However, opting for the simpler Momentum archetypal buys you abundant of what’s on activity actuality for beneath R500,000, which strengthens the amount proposition.
Sometimes, abate is bigger – and the Volvo XC40 T3 proves the point convincingly. DM
The T3 proves that beneath can be more. Excellent drivetrain convinces at every level.
Ride could be added refined.
Volvo XC40 T3 R-Design FWD
In-line three-cylinder, 1,447cc, turbo petrol
115kW @ 5,000rpm
265Nm @ 1,850 – 3,850rpm
Six-speed manual, FWD
19-inch alloy, 235/50 R19 tyres
Fuel catchbasin capacity
Fuel burning (claimed/tested)
6.2 / 7.9 litres/100km (combined cycle)
Operating ambit (claimed/tested)
871 / 684km
Price as tested
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