VOLVO is riding the crest of a wave right now, and its design department can’t seem to put a foot wrong. The new XC40, which goes on sale today, is the final piece in its SUV jigsaw following the big XC90, which launched in 2015, and mid-sized XC60, which arrived earlier this year. And as with its larger siblings, XC40 is likely to turn a few heads in the Waitrose car park.
A rival to the Range Rover Evoque, Audi Q2, Jaguar E-Pace and BMW X1, the Volvo XC40 borrows a lot from the Swedish manufacturer’s most recent models, including the T-shaped LED headlights, rear lights that sweep up the boot lid and the swish, minimalist interior, dominated by a large portrait-oriented touchscreen. But unique stylistic quirks, such as the flick up of the shoulder line behind the rear side windows, give it its own identity and help set it apart in an increasingly crowded market place.
Three petrol engines, producing 156hp, 190hp or 247hp, and two diesel engines, producing 150hp or 190hp, will initially be available – all 2-litre four-cylinder units. They will come with two- or four-wheel drive, and a choice of manual or automatic transmissions.
Volvo says other powertrains will be added later in the XC40’s lifecycle, and with a promise to offer electric or hybrid options of all models by 2019, expect a plug-in version to arrive in the next couple of years.
But it’s perhaps the innovative way in which drivers can get their hands on an XC40 that may get the most tongues wagging. The Care by Volvo package allows drivers to negotiate a monthly fee with the dealer that includes everything from deposit, taxes, servicing fees, Volvo On Call road-side assistance, and even insurance, meaning drivers should have minimal additional costs, other than fuel and parking.
Drivers will also have access to a concierge service, access to another Volvo for up to 14 days per year – should they need a seven-seater for a family holiday, for example – and will be able to swap their car for a new model every two years.
Volvo says the Care by Volvo service, which is available inside the M25 only, initially, makes owning an XC40 as easy as owning a mobile phone, for which the monthly cost includes the handset as well as calls, texts and data. This reflects a trend for consumers to only pay for the parts of services they use.
However, whereas at the end of a mobile phone contract the user owns the phone outright, those choosing to run an XC40 in this way will not own any of the vehicles. In one way it’s more like a pay-as-you go deal as drivers will be paying only for how much they use the vehicle, and can hand the keys back at any time, no questions asked.
Speaking of keys, a new technology will allow Care by Volvo drivers to get digital keys that allow the car to be shared between friends and family, all under the same deal and monthly fee (including insurance). This won’t be available in the UK at first but Volvo says it will arrive in time.
None of this comes cheap, of course: the introductory offer on T5 and D4 Momentum versions will cost £629 per month. “We’re not pretending it’s the cheapest way into an XC40, but it’s ultra-convenient,” a spokesperson told Driving.co.uk.
The Volvo XC40 is available to order now, with the first customer deliveries expected in early 2018. Prices start from £27,905 for the T3 FWD Momentum manual and rise to £40,355 for the T5 AWD First Edition automatic.