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Driven: Volvo XC40 T3. Image by Volvo UK.

Driven: Volvo XC40 T3
Is three the magic number? When it comes to the Volvo XC40, then yes, it most probably is.


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Volvo XC40 T3 Momentum Pro Automatic

5 5 5 5 5

Good points: T3 engine is all the motor you could need for the XC40

Not so good: you won't get much joy out of flinging the Volvo down a back road

Key Facts

Model tested: Volvo XC40 T3 Momentum Pro Automatic
Price: XC40 range from 28,965; T3 Momentum Pro Automatic as tested 33,165
Engine: 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Body style: five-door crossover-SUV
CO2 emissions: 140g/km (VED Band 131-150: 210 in year one, then 145 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 44.8mpg
Top speed: 124mph
0-62mph: 9.6 seconds
Power: 163hp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 265Nm at 1,600-3,850rpm
Boot space: 460-1,336 litres

Our view:

Nice and simple for you here, as we're testing the Volvo XC40 with the first non-four-cylinder engine we've driven since the Swedish company's Drive-E era kicked off in around about 2014. We've already sampled the charming little Scandi crossover as a D4 AWD First Edition and loved it - in fact, we think it's the first thing you should look at in this compact-premium crossover-SUV sector - but will it make any more sense when shorn of a piston and the sort of striking looks/massive alloys that would befit a display car on a motorshow stand?

Well, if anything, the XC40 makes even more sense in a lowlier spec, as tested here. Our three-cylinder turbocharged petrol T3 was in Momentum Pro Automatic trim, which places its windscreen sticker closer to 30,000 than 40,000, and that makes the whole vehicle just a little more palatable. Better still, it still felt as classy and upmarket as any Volvo, the 33,165 model having just the right amount of toys and luxuries onboard to ensure it didn't come across as akin to a Hertz rental car. Although we do question why radar cruise 'adjust your distance' buttons were on the steering wheel, when our XC40 T3 didn't have radar functionality but just plain ol' cruise control (and yes, we cycled through on the dashboard display, looking for 'Pilot Pro' or 'Radar Cruise' to pop up at the bottom-left of the digital instrument cluster). Usually, higher-level equipment switchgear is blanked off on entry machines, but not here, it would seem.

This is a minor niggle, though. As is the one about the automatic model's stumpy little gearlever refusing to go straight from D to R or vice versa, no matter what you did. Low-speed manoeuvring in car parks and onto narrow driveways therefore requires you to adopt the 'double-tap' approach (no, not like in Zomebieland...) and it therefore becomes unnecessarily fiddly if you're in a hurry. Other than that, though, we loved the little T3. With 163hp and 265Nm, it's a perfectly adept motor for this size of crossover and it never felt out of its depth, either on long motorway slogs (we went up to Cumbria and back, from the East Midlands, in the Volvo) or when pottering around on country lanes and in local towns. It also proved real-world economical enough, something you can't always say of these turbocharged triples, with an overall return of 40.7mpg across 445 miles of mixed-roads driving boosted by a best of 43.3mpg on that 180-mile trek home from the Lake District.

And, during the week of road-testing, the ride quality was never less than exceptional. On smaller 18-inch wheels and fixed-rate passive suspension, the XC40 T3 Momentum Pro might not be the finest-handling vehicle in this class, but its comfortable comportment more than makes up for that fact. We've heard it said that Volvo's Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) chassis is actually better for the ride/handling balance as an R-Design, which is the inverse of the Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) where you want to aim at Momentum or Inscription trims to avoid crunchy ride quality, but we genuinely couldn't fault the mechanical and acoustic refinement of the XC40 T3, nor did we ever think its damping was running out of ideas for compression and rebound. Indeed, save for Volvo's typical brand-wide feel of slightly safe handling dynamics permeating the steering and body control of this crossover, we couldn't really fault the kinematics of the XC40 otherwise.

And so we'd be happy to continue to say that the XC40 is our class-leader in this segment. It's not exactly cheap, even at 33 grand, but to match its interior space and comfort from a non-premium marque, you might save money yet you won't get the unremitting quality of this thing; and there's also a good case to say the Volvo XC40 negates the need for any of the bigger crossovers and SUVs from its competitor brands. It would therefore seem, then, that in the case of this Swedish machine, T3 is indeed the magic number.


Audi Q3: like the Volvo, the Q3 focuses on comfort and refinement ahead of handling vivacity and speed. No three-pot engine option in the Audi but it's a smooth all-rounder.

BMW X2: racy-looking thing from the Germans, but not as nice to look at as the Volvo, nor is it as comfortable inside. It does drive reasonably sharply, though.

Volkswagen T-Cross: a premium badge on a small crossover with a three-cylinder engine, but the T-Cross really is a class below the XC40 and it feels it.

Matt Robinson - 5 Sep 2019    - Volvo road tests
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2019 Volvo XC40 T3 UK test. Image by Volvo UK.2019 Volvo XC40 T3 UK test. Image by Volvo UK.2019 Volvo XC40 T3 UK test. Image by Volvo UK.2019 Volvo XC40 T3 UK test. Image by Volvo UK.2019 Volvo XC40 T3 UK test. Image by Volvo UK.

2019 Volvo XC40 T3 UK test. Image by Volvo UK.2019 Volvo XC40 T3 UK test. Image by Volvo UK.2019 Volvo XC40 T3 UK test. Image by Volvo UK.2019 Volvo XC40 T3 UK test. Image by Volvo UK.2019 Volvo XC40 T3 UK test. Image by Volvo UK.


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