Sprint Review: Volvo XC40 T3 R-Design

Volvo never ceases to amaze me. As if achingly stylish designs, fastidious safety and responsive chassis’ weren’t enough, they’ve just made their XC40 compact SUV even more attractive…

You wanna know: Their littlest SUV isn’t exactly affordable and – up to now – used the same modular 2-litre turbo-petrol or turbo-diesel engines as every other Volvo range. This brand-new T3 engine is a modular version of that modular motor, no jokes, by losing a cylinder to become a 1.5L in-line three-cylinder turbo-petrol.

This too: It retains the original’s clever technology, sounds like a lumpy V6, drops the fuel consumption figure while still returning a respectable 115kW (156hp) and 265Nm. You can have its host in four escalating spec levels, all with excellent safety and comfort features, various colours and cabin trim, automatic or – as tested here – a six-speed manual gearbox.

Anything bad? Being a 1,495kg vehicle with a 1,477cc motor, you need to give her some extra gas when pulling away on an incline. Peak torque is available from 1,850 to 3,850rpm. Fuel consumption doesn’t really suffer too much, although you’ll only achieve the claimed 6.2L/100km average on a level cruise.

Unfortunately, Volvo has discovered what a great money-spinner an options list can be. Where before you could get a set of alloys for five grand (yup, all four) the XC40 will bulge its price tag by almost 14k. Glass roof? Twenty thousand, please. Bike rack? A million dollars. Metallic paint is still affordable yet the colour choice is somewhat limited.

There are good options packs on offer but not everything is desirable.

The good bits: Oh, where do I start? The looks. The headlights. That cabin, those seats and the amazing Volvo sound system. The digital instruments, the ferocious brakes and a surprisingly voluminous boot. The way it drives, the suppleness of its ride (if you get sensible wheels) and the comfort of your passengers.

Buy one because: It’s chic, it’s safe and it’s not just a pretty face. If refinement and style beat price and resale value in your books, you simply can’t ignore the Volvo XC40 with its lively T3 engine. Prices start at R515,000 (Momentum) with a 5-year/100,000km warranty and service plan.


  • Engine: 1.5L i-3 turbo-petrol
  • Transmission: 6-speed Manual, FWD
  • Max. Power: 115kW
  • Max. Torque: 265Nm
  • Avg cons.: Claimed 6.2L/100km
  • 0-100km/h: 10.43 seconds (claimed 9.3)
  • Top Speed: Claimed 200km/h
  • List Price: R 565,000

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