Testing the 2020 Volvo XC40: Your entry to Scandinavia

Think of modern Volvos and I can guarantee you that the first things that pop into your head are sophisticated-looking sedans and crossovers. Gone were the days of boxy turbocharged wagons that the marque was known for; newer Volvos are now classy with plenty of finesse, keeping up with what luxury vehicle buyers demand.

But that isn’t the case with the Volvo XC40 T5 R-Design AWD. This blue tester was turned over to me in Volvo’s Makati showroom, standing out like a hippie in a cocktail party.

While its name sounds like a random string of alphanumeric characters strewn together to form a strange, confusing European monicker, the XC40’s styling, features, and overall driving manners are quite straightforward and predictable – something you’d appreciate from a car of this pedigree. And here are the rest of my thoughts.


The XC40 is the smallest and sportiest-looking in the Swedish crossover range, offering pint-size mobility in a youthful package. But it isn’t that small by Asian standards; it still is a tad bigger than popular seven-seaters like the Mitsubishi Xpander or Suzuki Ertiga. It is, after all, a direct rival to the Mercedes-Benz GLA, BMW X2, and Audi Q3 – all German, but the XC40 refuses to get intimated, especially when it stands side-by-side with the aforementioned nameplates.

The XC40’s heft, width, and massive 211mm space from the ground emanate a supreme stance on the road, highlighted by its wideset non-generic 20-inch wheels and T-shaped LED daytime running lights called Thor’s hammer. Don’t ask me why.

Front and back, the Volvo XC40 is a looker, but wait until you see its version painted in red.


Time and again, there’s this notion that European cars seem alien in terms of their dashboard layout, controls, and HVAC knobs. It seems so with the XC40 at first sight, but it only took me a short while to familiarize myself with everything without consulting the owner’s manual. Even the massive vertical touchscreen head unit isn’t hard to operate – quite surprising, to be honest.

Design-wise, the sporty exterior design continues inside, with the leather seats accentuated with suede inserts. The charcoal headliner feels great to the touch, which opens up to a panoramic moonroof that reaches up to the rear seats. The steering wheel is sized suitably for a positive haptic experience. And oh, there’s a handful of reminders that this car is indeed a product of Sweden, scattered all over the cabin.

In terms of space, consider this crossover’s size with only two rows of seating. You do the math.

Technology & Safety

Volvo poured its tech features even on its entry-level crossover. Everything’s electronically controlled and digital, while smartphone charging is wireless and a 360-degree-view of the vehicle appears on the nine-inch vertical touchscreen infotainment. There’s also a Park Assist feature if that isn’t enough. 

Adaptive Cruise Control is standard in this variant, along with a myriad of active and safety features that fills this car’s spec sheet to the brim. This isn’t a surprise, really, since Volvo has cemented its name globally as an innovator of safety features in cars, winning several citations and awards in the process.

Driving & Handling

A 2.0-liter turbocharged four-banger resides under the XC40’s hood, sent to all four wheels via an Aisin-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission. The whole drivetrain setup isn’t hard to deal with even at initial seating, and power delivery highly depends on your foot’s weight. Turbo lag isn’t noticeable, although the transmission tends to retain high RPMs even in its normal driving mode. 

While handling isn’t so much of an issue with the XC40, especially with its light yet responsive steering, there’s something I need to mention about its width. Due to the thickness of the door panels, the XC40 feels wider than it actually is. That needed some time to get used to. In my case, it was around two days.

The biggest merit here is the XC40’s chassis, almost tuned to perfection. There wasn’t a time during my tests that I felt the impact translated to the cabin; it’s as if the car keeps road impurities and harshness away from its occupants. That’s sincerely notable by any standard.


Stylish and engaging, albeit pricey, the Volvo XC40 is your entry to Scandinavia that’s available in Philippine showrooms. P3,495,000 is a hefty price of admission, to be honest, considering that this is the smallest Volvo in the range and with German competitors offering a more attractive price point.

But I’m glad that Volvo keeps things this way, much of that viewpoint comes from the fact that the units here are still sourced from Belgium. The company didn’t compromise its reputation for price wars, making sure that each person who buys one will be fully satisfied with his or her decision.

If you have the means to purchase one, the XC40 T5 R-Design AWD is worth your consideration. Volvo dealerships offer test drives to interested parties. A bit of a warning, though – you’ll likely end up signing over those dotted lines for this car.

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