[Behind the Wheel] Volvo enters compact SUV market with XC40

By Kim Bo-gyung
  • Published : Aug 15, 2018 - 17:52
  • Updated : Aug 15, 2018 - 17:52

POCHEON, Gyeonggi Province -- Sweden-based carmaker Volvo has completed its sport utility vehicle lineup with the launch of the XC40, stepping into the compact SUV market for the first time in the carmaker’s 90-year history.

The XC40 is smallest in the XC family consisting of the flagship large-size SUV XC 90 and XC60 midsize SUV.

In the hope of continuing popularity garnered by the XC60 last year, the XC40 was released here in June, targeting younger drivers.

The Korea Herald had a chance to test-drive the small SUV from Seoul to the Korea National Arboretum in Pocheon, Gyeonggi Province -- about 100 kilometers back and forth -- last month.

Volvo XC40 small SUV (Volvo Korea)

Breaking away from its longtime image as a safe yet boring carmaker, the Volvo XC40 is stylish and modern in design, apt for city driving, particularly in Seoul where roads are heavily congested and small.

The small SUV also features a headlamp that resembles Thor’s hammer, unique to the XC family.

To spice up the Swedish minimalist exterior design, the steep angled headlamp gives the model an edgy and dynamic touch. The lifted rear bumper gives a voluptuous look to the compact SUV, while the L-shaped classic Volvo taillight preserves the Volvo design.

The Compact Modular Architecture compact car platform jointly developed by Volvo and its Chinese parent company Geely was applied to the XC40 for the first time among Volvo models.

Unlike its simple and minimal exterior design, the compact SUV is armed with an array of the most up-to-date semiautonomous systems, and the Pilot Assist II is a standard in all trims.

The Pilot Assist II is a semiautonomous driving system that calculates the distance and speed with the vehicle in front, controlling the steering wheel and acceleration while making sure to stay within lane.

The XC40 delivered a comfortable driving experience on straight and curved roads with minimal wobbling despite the higher-than-average vehicle height of 1,652 millimeters.

The sense of a younger and trendier Volvo continues when driving, through the instantaneous and softer accelerator, brake pedal and steering wheel.

The Drive-E 2.0 liter gasoline Turbo T4 engine has a maximum output of 190 horsepower and 30.6 kilogram-force meters of torque, which Volvo describes as an “optimal balance for city driving.”

A sticking point, however, for drivers with sensitive hearing and those who prefer listening to music while driving could be the noticeably noisy air conditioning. The loud fan made it difficult to listen to music or the navigation, unless the air conditioning and its fan were set to a lower level.

For drivers who place greater importance on interior design, the vertical, slim shaped AC unique to the vehicle captures Volvo’s simple and trendy design. The center console has been kept simple with a vertical center display and minimal buttons, partly to cut down on cost.

The Korea Herald rating (out of 5 stars):
Design: 5 stars
Safety: 5 stars
Gas Mileage: 3 stars
Price: 4 stars
Overall: 17/20

By Kim Bo-gyung (