THE challenge with trying to be up-to-speed with technology is that you overtake humanity in the process.
It has to be admitted that Volvo has benefitted from the involvement of the Chinese parents, and are producing cars that are sharper in looks and gaining in appeal.
But keeping pace with the industry has come with some challenging situations for users.
The Volvo XC40 T4 R-Design is a good-looking, well-proportioned small SUV. For city driving its size fits into the tighter spaces, and there’s enough room in the cabin to load up kids or gear and run around town.
It’s also very well appointed in terms of its interior finishing. Details on the dashboard break the monotony of an otherwise black interior. The metal highlights are in less conventional forms and add to the youthful demeanour.
And on the outside, finer details like the design on the grille, Thor’s Hammer lights, and the structural grooves and bulges to deliver a long nose and a powerful body, deliver a visually exciting proposition.
For a first go at this segment, Volvo seems to have come up with the goods. The Swedish brand, which is now a subsidiary of Chinese car manufacturer, Geely, has enjoyed some of the benefits of shared research and development.
The overall look and feel of the XC40 is comendable and promises of better things to come from ths alliance.
The injection of safety features harks back to Volvo’s reputation for sturdy, safe cars.
The Wolrd Health Organisation estimates that 1.2 million people are killed, and 50 million wounded in traffic accidents annually.
Volvo’s aim is that by 2020, no one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car. Towards this goal, Volvo has launched some “world firsts” in the XC40 include Oncoming Lane Mitigation, Run-off Road Protection, and City Safety, where the brakes come on when there’s a pedestrian, cyclist or large animal detected. These are in addition to other features like blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise ontrol with distant alert, 360° camera view for a bird’s eye view of the car and its surroundings.
All well and good, so far.
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The cabin promises a welcoming ambience. The sunroof lets in copious amounts of light. The finishing of the dials, buttons, seats and displays are harmonious, with enough detail to keep them from becoming bland or predictable.
The multi-purpose steering steering offers access to key functions, including paddle shifters for quick gear shifts. Much better than trying to do things manually.
There’s good visibility all around, but the high line at the C pillar does cut your view at the back. So you’ll be relying on your blind spot monitors a fair bit for these dark zones.
My biggest beef with the XC40 is its central display. It looks good as a 9″ iPad stuck there, but it’s operational functionality is a bit annoying.
The touchscreen doesn’t obey your finger, possibly because of the way it’s set up. The connection with the mobile devices is a bit quirky. But most irritating is the Auto start/stop function, which is not a simple button you can stab at, but is tucked away on the screen, behind a few layers of hunting.
So, it’s a case of searching, finding, trying and trying again. Apparently, you are able to do this with gloves on. Maybe you should keep a pair in the glove compartment. Or one of the many storage spaces in the cabin.
A remodelled sound system contributes to the roomier spaces in the XC40. The air-ventilated woofer from Harman Kardon delivers a rich sound and its design allows for a full sound effect without encroaching on storage space.
Considering that it’s a small SUV, driving the XC40 is surprisingly like driving its larger brethren. There’s a rolling gait that needs getting used to. In Dynamic mode, with the shorther gear throws and stiffer suspension, it does settle a bit, but still tries to keep things comfortable.
If you’ve lived your life on a boat and like that rocking, then do get onboardOnce you get used to that rocking motion,
Which may not be a bad thing since you’ll likely keep to one setting and get the biggest bang for your buck.
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VOLVO XC40 T4 R-DESIGN TECH SPECS
Engine: In-line 4 cylinders turbocharged
Max Power: 140kW@4,700rpm
Max Torque: 300Nm@1,400-4,000rpm
Transmission: 8-speed Automatic
VES Band: C1
Top Speed: 210kmh
Retail price: *$180,000
Please reconfirm price with dealer.
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