First Drive in the new Volvo XC40

Let me just get this out of the way. I am a die-hard Volvo fan. I have been since I first attended the launch of the V40 in Verona, Italy, back in 2012. I certainly wasn’t a fan before that when its cars still looked like they took on the shape of the shipping containment they arrived here in. Since the V40, every product that Volvo has produced has just cemented my love affair with this brand.

I was so excited to get behind the wheel of the new Volvo XC40 that I was willing to wake up at 4am to catch the red-eye to Johannesburg for it (in fairness I do this a lot for my job, but this car made it slightly more bearable).

The XC40, which is Volvo’s first true compact SUV, is brand new to the segment that already houses the likes of the Jaguar E-Pace and BMW X2. And just to ensure it arrives with some attitude, it’s already nabbed the 2018 European Car of the Year award.

Firstly, the look! Yislaaik. How hot is it? It’s got that “I am here to stay” look in its eyes (headlamps if you will) and with the wheels pushed right in to the corners of the car, it has a real dik stance (yes I am now throwing in Afrikaans words for effect). It looks distinctly Swedish. It’s practical yet rugged, beautiful and stylish.

Volvo XC40

The high-quality interior is as gorgeous and with touches of the XC90 trickling in to the cabin, you are in for a real treat. I still struggle with the IMAX-sized 9-inch touchscreen infotainment system, but I think an owner would get used to this in no time. Where the XC40 really shines, is with its features. If you know anything about the XC90 you know it is a leader in technology, the XC40 is following in its big brother’s footsteps and ensuring you are not left wanting anything.

Volvo XC40 interior

So, it has good looks and desirable charm, what else do you need? Well, probably the most important thing of all really; safety! And this is where Volvo is just untouchable and probably one of the main reasons why it remains one of my number one brands.

Did you know that since the XC90 launched in 2002, not one person has died in one? Just take a moment to let that sink in! Think of the carnage on our roads and then reread that sentence. Volvo’s mission is to ensure no one dies in a Volvo by 2020. With the roads like they are, especially in this country, it is something that I wish every manufacturer would strive for. With driving behavior worsening we need something to change. Volvo is a leader in this avenue and it’s something worth noting.

City Safety, which acts like a co-pilot, if you will, is standard on every XC40 model. It identifies other vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and large animals ahead, warning you If a collision is imminent. If you don’t react in time, it will brake automatically to help avoid or mitigate an accident. Can you imagine if every single car on the road had this system? It’s expensive, so it is no wonder they don’t, but here’s hoping it becomes a requirement for every brand-new car going forward.

Another cool feature, but one you will have to pay extra for, is called Run-off Road Safety. This helps to keep you on the road. If it detects you are about to leave the road unintentionally, it uses steering input and, if necessary, brake support to guide you back on track.

Another optional feature is Pilot Assist, Volvo’s next generation of semi-autonomous technology. The Adaptive Cruise Control feature maintains the desired set vehicle speed but utilises radar to monitor the vehicle in front and automatically slows down or speeds up as necessary. In an evolution of this, Pilot Assist also takes care of the steering (up to 130 km/h and when lane markings are clearly visible) by continually monitoring the area in front of the vehicle, making the necessary steering, accelerator and brake inputs as required to keep to the desired speed, distance and within the lane markings.

Are you starting to see why the XC40 can be called the safest compact SUV on the road?

The XC40 is currently available with two trim levels (R-Design and Momentum) and two engine options (D4 diesel and T5 petrol) with all-wheel drive on evert model. We will see Inscription trim and D3, T3 and T4 petrol engines with front-wheel drive options arrive later this year.


  • T3 Manual Momentum                       R489 500
  • T3 Manual Inscription                         R521 300
  • T3 Manual R-Design                            R528 400
  • D4 Geartronic AWD Momentum        R600 300
  • T5 Geartronic AWD Momentum        R610 900
  • D4 Geartronic AWD Inscription          R632 100
  • T5 Geartronic AWD Inscription           R639 200
  • D4 Geartronic AWD R-Design             R642 600
  • T5 Geartronic AWD R-Design             R649 700


The bottom line, if I had the money, this is the car I would buy for my mom. Not to say I wouldn’t buy one for myself as well, mind you, but my mom is in the market for a new car and I could not think of a better option for her, or for anyone really. Watch this space, it will become Volvo’s best-selling car for sure.

Now we just need Care By Volvo to come to South Africa (thankfully it is being considered and will hopefully be here in 2019). Care By Volvo allows customers to “subscribe to a car rather than buy it, for a fixed monthly fee which includes the likes of service, maintenance, insurance and other added value benefits”.


I’m Julz, South African motoring journalist with a passion for cars and a questionable sense of humour. I am not your average motoring journalist, and this is not your average motoring website.

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