The XC 40 from Volvo was first launched in India in 2018 and managed to turn several heads with its typically Scandinavian looks and an exhaustive feature list. That it was offered 2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine, however, may have been a folly, as the move away from diesel had already begun to gather pace. It is perhaps this recognition that led Volvo to drive in the XC 40 T4 R-Design petrol variant which will continue to lock horns with the likes of Mercedes GLA and BMW X1.
The XC 40 T4 R-Design in its petrol version does not differentiate itself from the diesel version in how it looks. And that works for the inherent Volvo character design. At a time when other manufacturers are going big with chrome, Volvo's R-Design ensures that chrome on XC 40 T4 is a bare minimum - on the logo at the front and exhaust tips at the rear. The front grille is glossy black and is flanked by the signature 'Thor' LED headlights on either end.
The roof of the XC 40 T4 is blacked out while the 18-inch alloys make a comeback as well.
The rear too continues to feature the boomerang tail lights which have defined Volvo SUVs for some time now.
On the inside, the XC 40 T4 stays true to Volvo's commitment towards packing its cars to the brim. In fact, this car also borrows several elements from its elder siblings - XC 60 and XC 90. Soft-touch materials are aplenty with black highlights done extremely tastefully. The nine-inch vertical touchscreen on the center console has also been carried forward and remains as responsive as ever. It is the hub which controls almost everything - from NAV and safety features to music from the Harmon Kardon system.
The seats have been refreshed and are now in black. The rear seats though are not the most comfortable and that is one jarring drawback in the SUV. The seating position is a bit too upright and can make for a stiff back on long rides. There is also a lack of under thigh support on the rear - also because of who upright the rear seats are. The other blemish is a carpet-brush finish on all the doors from the inside which may have been 'well-intentioned' but come off as rather shabby.
There is nothing shabby about the mile-long list of safety features on the XC 40 T4 with Volvo once again underlining why it shines in this department. The SUV gets radar-based safety which is highlighted by lane assist system, adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation system, ABS with EBD, 360 degree proximity sensors, tyre pressure monitoring system, six airbags, hill descent control, reverse camera, among many others.
The real test of the XC 40 T4 is how it drinks petrol and performs on the road. And for the most parts, it shines bright. The 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine has superb levels of refinement and manages to gobble up miles with considerable ease. There is 190 hp of power and 300 Nm of torque and while this does not translate into a rush of speed and acceleration, the XC 40 T4 makes up for the rather lack of sportiness with a drive that is composed. It manages to handle most road conditions with ease at moderate speeds even if there is a slight struggle at lower speeds. The struggle may be defined in terms of body roll when the XC 40 T4 is moving over bumps at speeds under 50 kmph. It is hardly an outright deal breaker though.
Transmission duties are handled by a introvert eight-speed auto gearbox which isn't the most eager to push itself hard. It does manage to do the job expected of it in a smooth manner as long as expectations are kept, for the lack of a better word, realistic.
There is no AWD in the XC 40 T4 because Volvo claims most buyers have not reported much use for it. Instead, there is an off-road mode along with Dynamic, Eco and Comfortable. The off-road mode adjusts the steering when engaged and turns on hill descent control, and manages to treat bad roads with a bit more care. Apart from these minor adjustments, don't expect it to turn the XC 40 T4 into a wilderness conqueror.
To conquer or even tame the wilderness is anyway not what the XC 40 T4 seeks to put in its resume. Neither is being outrightly sporty. Instead, the baby SUV from Volvo builds on its strengths and on those that have defined the company. Packed to the teeth with features, sophisticated looks and safety features that still make others look like bumper cars at an amusement park, the XC 40 T4 is for those looking for a higher calling. Put up against the likes of Mercedes GLA and BMW X1, the single-variant XC 40 T4 - priced at ₹39.90 lakh (ex-showroom) will end up possibly disappointing those looking for adrenaline rush galore but then again, when was Volvo ever known for being a drag-race champion?