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Volvo’s XC40 T5-R-Design premium compact SUV wants for little

Volvo is enjoying a good year, sales up 33 per cent, its latest XC60 SUV the big seller while the smaller XC40 launched earlier this year has quickly gained the No 2 spot. The XC40 has been well received although supply is at present somewhat constrained while it has some excellent competition from the likes of Mercedes GLA, BMW’S X1 and Audi’s Q2 and Q3. I tested the Volvo XC40, the top-spec T5-R-Design model at $57,890. The three-model range features just one engine – a 2-litre 185 kW turbo petrol linked to an 8-speed gear-tronic auto with manual paddle shifters and three drive modes Eco, Comfort and Sport. Visually, appealingly different, although its unusual rear three-quarter styling divides opinion and obviously impairs over the shoulder vision. A very impressive interior however, practical and well thought out. As you’d expect from Volvo its loaded with safety and driver aids plus a stack of convenience equipment like wireless phone charging. Volvo is of course these days owned by the Chinese company Geely, however their products are still very much designed and engineered in Sweden. To further confuse, its built in Volvo’s plant in Belgium. The central 9-inch colour touch screen is easy to use, clear and intuitive but it does require your concentration and needs to be used for the most part while your stationary. A pleasant driver the Volvo XC40 shows nice polish but at a time when petrol prices are through the roof it’s not the most frugal. I’m David Berthon

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