XC40 is close to 2016 concept. Many will find the smaller size very appealing

XC40 is close to 2016 concept. Many will find the smaller size very appealing

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I can't believe it's over four years since Volvo stunned us by replacing the ancient-of-days XC90 SUV with one on a new platform, with new electrified 'twin engine' drivetrain (plus the usual petrol and diesel engines) and an interior that made IKEA look cheap and nasty and was more comparable to hand crafted products like Bentley. Only problem was - it's sooooooo big. The follow up, the XC60, again replacing an older (and still desirable) iteration, was more manageable in size but, Olaf, could you shrink it just a bit more? And so, on the different CMA platform, shared with Volvo Cars' Chinese masters Geely, came the XC40. My size of Volvo SUV.

Early on, there was some suggestion this might be aimed more at younger buyers than the average-age-deceased often associated with the brand though I see most in the steady reliable hands of pavement-climbing school run mums. We were promised a broad selection of possible colour combinations from a solid, monochromatic theme to dual compositions "in vivid colours" and a warm Lava Orange carpet, an Oxide Red upholstery plus "a range of new and distinctive trims and materials with designs inspired by urban architecture and cartography. Natural, felt-based carpets, headliners and door inserts deliver a modern touch". Ours arrived in vivid deep orange with a black roof and looked a lot nicer than it sounds.

Then we got the Storage Wars press release. Apparently, as part of the XC40's development phase, a research team spent considerable time investigating how city dwellers around the globe use their car on a daily basis – and, more importantly, how they store their belongings in their cars. So speakers were moved from the door and a claimed world first, air ventilated dashboard mounted subwoofer was developed, leaving enough storage in the door compartment for a laptop and a tablet, or a couple of water bottles. A wireless charging pad supplements USB ports, a small fold-away hook was added to the glove compartment, allowing small shopping or takeaway bags to be secured (Land Rover will claim that as its late 1990s 'curry hook') and there is a storage space under each front seat, large enough to take a mini tablet or other smaller items. There are also offers slots for credit and service cards in the dashboard and, under the centre front armrest, a large storage area with room for a tissue box. A special, removable bin is specially for waste.

The XC40 also includes a fold-up boot divider with two hooks to help secure shopping bags or other luggage, along with four load hooks that make loading luggage simple. A private locking storage compartment has also been added under the load floor. Suffice to say there were no complaints from The Family about where to store stuff though there were demands for wi-fi, which can be added as an extra.

The Ghent, Belgium built XC40 may be described as the youthful cousin to the larger XC60, but most people buy Volvos in the belief you can drop a shipping container on one and emerge unscathed. The latest collision-avoidance and crash mitigation systems are expected as is a large box in which to convey people, pets and stuff. The range kicked off last year with a selection of I4 Drive-E powertrains but now the long-promised new three-pot engines, plus an additional T4 petrol, have kicked in so the choice has been expanded to 150hp and 190hp diesels badged D3 and D4 and 156, 190 and 247hp petrols (T3, T4, T5). Manual (courtesy Getrag) and automatic (Aisin Warner), two- and four-wheel drive and Momentum or R-Design trims, each with a more-goodies 'Pro' version ensure something for everyone. Volvo's GB unit now counts 38 different combinations of engines, equipment grades and transmissions with on-the-road prices ranging from GBP27,610 for the T3 Momentum manual to GBP37,620 for the T5 Inscription Pro automatic.

Anticipated sales split for the XC40's engines are D3 FWD, 40%; D3 AWD, 20%; D4 AWD, 15%; T3 FWD, 10%; T4 AWD, 10%; T5 AWD, 5%. You'll note that's 75% diesel - Volvo British buyers are not put off by media or ministerial hysteria/ignorance and these Euro 6.2 units are as clean as you can get, with a little help from urea injection for the oil burners.

Trim level anticipated split is Momentum, 20%; Momentum Pro, 10%; R-Design, 30%; R-Design Pro, 10%; Inscription, 20% and Inscription Pro, 10%. First Edition sold out like hot cakes.

I, being a fan of electrified, await the plug-in hybrid and pure electric versions still to come.

While some concepts are essentially in la-la land, XC40 is not far off Concept 40.1, revealed in May 2016. The clamshell bonnet, concave grille, heavily sculpted doors and distinctive rear pillars remain and doors overlap the sills, keeping your trouser cuffs clean.

The XC40 does not pretend to be as posh as the XC90 but materials used and general fit and finish are not too shabby and a lot of equipment, including the table style infotainment, works just like in big brother so familiarisation time is minimal. I had no problems with performance, ride, handling and general comfort and just a few minor bleats about a few features in the infotainment - you have to remember do you swipe up, down, left or right to access certain menu items.

We had a loaded First Edition model. These, much sought after 'used', are essentially a top trim version with every extra box ticked, hence power remote tailgate (subject to the usual wave-foot-under-rear-bumper-and-hope flakery), Harmon Kardon audio, full length glass roof, leather trim, every whichway power heated front seats, and so on. Cheaper versions are available, surprisingly well equipped and likely to be just as satisfactory to drive and own. There's a heap of connectivity including Android Auto (always flaky on my phone), Apple CarPlay (usually works), various cloud apps, remote start and, yes kids, if you pay the monthly, ability to have a WiFi hotspot - the best invention I have ever come across for keeping insurrection in the back seat under control. Along with USB ports to keep the gadgets charged.

First Edition is R Design Pro plus plus plus. Hence Park Assist Pilot self-parking system and 360º surround-view parking camera, Intellisafe Pro Pack with Pilot Assist semi-autonomous drive technology, Blind Spot Information System and Cross Traffic Alert with automatic emergency braking - great tech kit to have. Pilot Assist is just great on the motorway, keeping the car a safe distance from traffic in front, in its lane, and within speed limit on our camera-infested 'smart' motorways (it can read gantry signs) and I also soon found BLIS and CTA very useful. Very occasionally, the XC40 would demand I actually do some driving (the odd bit of sharp braking) and it will nag you if you try any smart tricks like seeing if you can get away with hands-free (only for a very limited time). You can select various driving modes but, after due experimentation, I just left it in Comfort.

The biggest appeal is size. For me, with local car park spaces apparently sized around the 1930s Austin 7, the XC90 is just too big and the XC60 is pushing it. The XC40 is just the right size to still get everybody in, plus the stuff (the weekly shop disappeared with room to spare) yet easy to manoeuvre and park.

Honey I Shrunk the XC has been years a-coming but it's very welcome. No wonder this first of the new 40 series cars on the new CMA platform is selling so well.

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