All of this is carefully planned to steer upscale millennial buyers away from the established players and into Volvo’s open embrace. As the first product on the Geely group’s new CMA small-car platform, the first 40-series car Volvo has offered on a global basis, and the brand’s first entry in the fast-growing premium compact CUV space, expectations for the XC40 are pretty high. So is the body (Volvo asserts best-in-class ground clearance and height) and the equipment specification, with the safety gear list mostly identical to an XC90’s—Pilot Assist (adaptive cruise and lane-centering), City Safety, run-off-road protection and mitigation, cross traffic alert with brake support, and a 360-degree camera system to help drivers maneuver their car into tight parking spaces. To assess its chances of success, we channeled our inner entitled, lazy, selfie-snapper and headed to Barcelona to sample what might be the most youthful Volvo since the 1957 P1900 roadster.
The only trim level available for test-driving was the range-topping T5 AWD R-Design, and we gravitated to a white one with the “molten lava” orange carpet and door insert trim (a $100 option on R-Design models only). As with the exterior, the XC40’s Sensus vertical iPad-like infotainment screen, A/C vent design, gauges, and fonts say Volvo, but the lack of a woodgrain trim option and the techie metal trim—not to mention that bright orange carpet—all reflect Volvo’s desire to lure the youth. Nothing’s getting lost on this floor or in the gigantic door storage pockets, which benefit from ditching the bass speakers from the lower door trim and replacing them with a single big bass speaker mounted to the firewall just under where the right wiper parks. The interior bristles with clever storage solutions. There’s a retractable hook above the glove box described as a place to hang carryout food bags (an owner’s mom could hang her purse there, too). A console trash bin with a lid comes out for easy emptying, and Volvo introduces its first wireless phone-charging doc in the console. The rear cargo floor folds to form a divider, with three hinge points that serve as bag hooks (another pair of bag hooks flank the cargo area for when the floor is left flat). We also like the rigid cargo cover that stows beneath the floor when carrying taller items.