There's a few motoring categories that are hot stuff right now, and the compact SUV is one of them. Many automakers either already have a poker in the fire, or one is in the works. Volkswagen has the popular Tiguan, Jaguar has the E-Pace, BMW has the X2 (and X1 I guess), Audi has the Q3, and even the Chinese have the Haval H2 bringing up the rear. New from the Swedes is the Volvo XC40, and it has to be one of the best looking options available, but as usual there's so much more than just good looks going on. Volvo already offers the large XC90 and it's smaller sibling, the mid-sized XC60 that shares a lot of the same design cues which are really pleasing on the eye. The XC40 isn't just a shrunken XC60 though, it's an all-new creation from the ground up built on the CMA platform, Volvo's new modular vehicle architecture, such is Volvo's commitment to take on the segment. The automaker is clearly on the right track because while the XC40 has just reached SA soil, the stylish SUV has already been named as the European Car of the Year for 2018 - this has what it takes to knock a Porsche out of the running.
The Volvo XC40 has an interior designed around the driver, so everything is there for a reason, the cabin (and the rest of the car) has everything you need, and nothing you don't. The Swedes are a clever bunch and they've made sure no space is wasted and so there are numerous compartments found around the cabin to cater for the modern day driver's everyday carry items. Smartphones, laptops, just about anything you would have, has a safe place of it's own. Added to this there's the brilliant infotainment system headed up by the 9-inch Sensus Connect touchscreen that's fitted in a portrait orientation making it look larger than it is, which isn't a bad thing. This screen is home to many functions and settings screens along with the usual things like navigation, reverse and 360-deg. surround camera and the audio system. For the XC40 the optional audio upgrade is a little different from the others in the Volvo range in that it's no longer that amazing Bowers & Wilkins system, but an equally brilliant Harman/Kardon system. There's plenty more tech packed in, enough to make some German rivals blush.
There's a few trim levels planned for the Volvo XC40 range, but at the time of the local launch there's only two that can be had, but worry not, this compact SUV is a winner no matter which you choose. The available range kicks off with the Momentum trim, but don't mistake this an an entry-level offering, it simply has too much included for it to have that classification. The two models already in SA are the T5 Geartronic AWD with a petrol-fed turbocharged 4-potter that produces 185kW and 350Nm of torque, mated to that brilliant 8-speed automatic transmission (R610 900); and the D4 Geartronic AWD with a diesel-fed turbocharged 2.0-litre 4-potter that's also mated to the 8-speed auto (R600 300). The second trim level that's available straight away is the one I'd sell a kidney for, the R-Design. The R-Design trim makes use of the same go forward bits leaving the differences to be mainly centred around the aesthetics and options, and they look bloody good, if you dispute that then you have no taste. The diesel will set you back R642 600 and the petrol sits at R649 700. Another trim on it's way is the Inscription which offers a sort of balance between Momentum's more businesslike attributes and the R-Design's sports aesthetics, when these arrive you're looking at R632 100 for the diesel and R639 200 for the petrol. In Q3 of this year you'll be able to get a T3 in manual with front-wheel drive that's set to upset rivals with an entry price tag of just R489 500.
These very, very good-looking compact SUVs simply HAVE to do well here in SA. I don't have any facts or figures to back it up, but just from the people I know and people I speak to, many seem to be looking to the smaller, more niche brands to fill their motoring needs, and Volvo has some absolutely brilliant solutions in the popular segments. Besides the pricing and great products, all new Volvos come with a 5-year/100 000km warranty and maintenance plan as well as a 5-year/unlimited mileage roadside assistance package. Oh, and if Vördnadsbjudande doesn't mean what Google Translate says it means, let me know. I just hope its not PG.