Volvo XC40 wins 2022 Drive Car of the Year Best Small Luxury SUV

Back-to-back victories for this polished Swede that strikes the ideal balance between substance and style at a sharp price point.

Exponential year-on-year sales growth in the small luxury SUV market segment suggests that more Australians are discovering the pleasures of owning a prestige compact SUV. 

And the best of breed – again – is the Volvo XC40, a vehicle that combines space, Swedish style, substance and flair with sound driving dynamics.

Aside from the key criteria of braking performance, overall road impressions and interior assessment, emotive factors like kerb appeal and design were discussed and considered. 

In a more plain colour like white or silver, it simply blends in, whereas our unique Coral Red car stood out and made a statement. Aside from looking great, it drives great too, with the entry-level T4 Momentum model feeling like a fantastic buy for under $50K before on-roads.

If you’re after something fancier, Volvo has the answer. Up from the Momentum trim level is the elegant and luxury-focussed Volvo XC40 T4 Inscription from $52,990, and the more powerful Volvo XC40 T4 R-Design from $56,990, both before on-road costs at the time of testing.

If petrol power isn’t your style, there are both plug-in hybrid and fully electric versions available in the $60–$70,000 price bracket. Regardless of the powertrain you pick, they’re all excellent and have a worthy place within the wider XC40 range.

The popular ‘T4’ driveline – a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo and eight-speed torque converter automatic – is a relatively simple one, but is also quiet and effective. It demonstrates the desirable traits of a linear power band, yet with enough torque down low to move some weight, which makes it ideal as a family SUV. 

In both the XC40 Momentum and XC40 Inscription versions, the 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder produces 140kW/300Nm, and the R-Line trim has a more potent 185kW/350Nm.

The 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo from the plug-in hybrid variant is equally as refined, and pairs well with the electric components despite being down on displacement. 

Volvo has seemingly solved both issues, as well as augmented the charismatic triple-cylinder engine with electrification – making it quite the package overall.

On the road, the XC40’s suspension offers excellent ride quality, and happily proved its worth in both swerve and emergency stop situations. In terms of braking performance, it was a close race between it and the Audi, with the Mini coming last in this discipline.

Inside, the Volvo’s second row is easily the largest of the three finalists, offering great habitability for adults and children alike. It’ll happily take a pair of decent-sized convertible child seats without impeding on the first row. It’s ideal for those who often ferry passengers and want a small yet premium SUV.

The entry price is good, and the powertrains diverse too, with both plug-in hybrid and fully electric versions on offer in Australia for 2022.

With the cheapest variant in the range showing the quality of the bones, we’re looking forward to driving the fully electric vehicle soon in Australia.

Read about the Best Small Luxury SUV segment

Read about all the other 2022 Drive Car of the Year categories and winners

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