My Volvo XC40: Ownership Review

Having read multiple threads about the lag and linear power delivery, I was pleasantly surprised with my Volvo XC40's performance.

BHPian gismosin recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Folks, I have been leaching off Team-BHP forums like a vampire and I thought I should contribute my two bits. A couple of reasons for that.

One, I bought a car and I hope it helps someone like me who is interested in the brand or the model.

Two, I wanted to share my overall experiences as well and plan to build this into a long term ownership review.

So, thanks to the admins for giving me a chance to tell my story, this will be my first post!

The Beginning

My trusty old steed, my Honda City, was ageing along with me. It was a car that was absolutely hassle-free to maintain and a joy to drive. Sadly, niggles appeared and then the itch started, you know the itch; all of us had it at one point in time (nope, not talking about the seven-year one). The itch you can't help but scratch, i.e., to get a new car.

Me and my wife are in our late 30s and fairly settled in life. Liabilities are taken care of and we were doing road trips with friends at least twice a year before the pandemic happened. We knew that the next 10 years will be when we could enjoy the most of our road trips and wanted an able companion along for the ride.

With road trips in mind, we sadly ruled out sedans. We are the rare breed of sedan lovers, but the scars on the underbelly of my Honda City convinced us otherwise. Since this will not be an everyday car, we wanted to stick to petrol. Our beater Suzuki Alto would take care of us running around the city.

So, an SUV or a crossover was what we had in mind. Something to get you where you want to go without worrying about bad roads and since we do not stray too far from civilization, a 4x4 was not a need of the hour. As we looked around, we thought why not splurge and get something nice since finances worked out for us.

We began our hunt with the German brands and immediately ruled out Audi (the Q2 made little sense at the price) and Mercedes had no announcements on the GLA yet. Basically, our choice narrowed to two brands - BMW and the unlikely Volvo.

The marquee of BMW is appealing, no denying that the badge attracts. We promptly booked the test drive on the BMW website and got a call the next day. We set an appointment for the weekend and I was keen to test drive the petrol as I was leaning towards it.

There was no update from the sales associate on the day of the test drive and after a quick WhatsApp follow up from me, the salesperson assured me someone would show up with the car at the time agreed. At the time of the test drive, a junior Sales Associate showed up with the car. First disappointment, it was a diesel as they had no petrol available and he urged me to drive as if they were very similar cars. He then mentioned a 3 km limit for the test drive, which was a bummer. I did a quick test drive after which he took me through the high-level features of the car and then we were done; he handed me the quotes for a couple of variants of the X1 and I told him I will keep in touch.

My experience of the test drive is that no doubt the engine is good and extremely responsive, quiet and drives well, but the rest of the car looks dated, fairly dated. I understand subtlety but this was pure undercutting, take away the badge and the car does not stand out. What's worst is that many features lower segments now have (I am looking at you key-less entry, wireless charging, digital instrument cluster) are missing. The cabin is, in one word, boring. While it is good to drive, it was underwhelming as an overall package we were looking for. The overall attitude of the car be like, " I will give you a good engine and decent steering, how dare you ask for more, you mere mortal! Do you know who I am? Did you look at my badge? Now, bow down and pray at my and I may bless you to have the privilege of serving me."

Also, the quote provided was close to Rs. 49 lakh (and this was before the price hike in April). I followed up to negotiate and that is where I further felt disappointed. Response from sales was lukewarm (they had a similar attitude of the car, you are the lucky one to be able to buy this car, what are you complaining about?). They came down to Rs. 47 lakh on the xLine variant I was looking at and refused to come down further. I guess because of the pandemic the deep discounts have become the thing of the past. What I understood from the SA was that they have low inventory and they are getting an abysmal number of units allocated and that is causing the gap in supply and demand. Looked like there were many more folks willing to part money readily. I wasn’t, not at that price point.

Here is the quotation for the base variant (SportX) of the BMW X1 (I misplaced the quote for the xLine) with some dubious charges which would be leveraged to provide a discount to the consumer.

Fairly disappointed with the whole BMW experience, I booked a Volvo XC40 test drive on their website. The Volvo SA called, and he cut a further sorry figure. He had no TD car and their stock was even sketchier. Apparently, they sold their TD car as it was end-of-year (allegedly they clear their TD vehicle in a year).

However, he asked me to call a few weeks down the road as they were expecting a shipment, which didn't sound promising. Looked like we had no options even if you were willing to spend around Rs. 45 lakh on a car. Having almost given up and have not heard from BMW (I called the SA once in between to prod and he said he will get back to me and I am still waiting for his getting back to this day). I killed my time by watching videos on YouTube, mostly car-related and then lurking in Team-BHP forums to divert my disappointment and during this time what I discovered is the overwhelmingly positive reviews for the XC40 across the globe; it appeared to be a great all-round package and I really liked the way it looked. But Volvo's lacklustre presence in India had me on a back-foot.

A couple of weeks later, I called Volvo back and to my delight; they had a car now. We arranged a test drive for the weekend and after a quick follow up by me on the day of the test drive (mostly eager me), the SA showed up with the car and to my surprise, he was the general manager of sales himself, Mr. Saket Singh. There was no test drive radius mentioned and I took an elaborate one and he showed all the cool features the car had (a little more on that later) and after a satisfying test drive, we bid our goodbyes and the usual with "let's stay in touch" parting statements.

For a change, my wife felt overwhelmed with the car. Her first question was, "It has a lot of features, but are they useful?" Nothing like a shot of reason from your better half. So, took a step back and chewed over the statement for a day.

Did I like the car? Absolutely. It was gorgeous to look at, modern and chic. I liked the way it drove; I am a relaxed driver and it speaks to me. Steering was on the lighter side, so would be easy for my wife to hop in and take off. The car is built like a tank and armed to the teeth with safety features and, at least in theory, they sound amazing (whiplash protection, collision mitigation, to name a few). Safety has been a primary concern for me, with unsafe roads and misadventurous drivers roaming freely, you can never be safer. I wanted all the safety for my family I could get. Need to evaluate their practical application on the Indian roads but definitely good to have, these features are segment-leading for sure.

What I found most useful were the adaptive cruise control and pilot assist. They worked like a charm in our test drive, even when and the markings on the road were barely visible. I was thoroughly impressed, my long drives would be a breeze and the best part was they had a Rs. 3 lakh discount running on the car by Volvo, bringing it to Rs. 36,90,000 ex-showroom. To me, this was a great price point. The car cost less than the base model of BMW and has more features on its resume.

The insurance was way cheaper than the BMW as well. Volvo sales mentioned that was because of some tie-ups they had with insurance companies and Volvo's have lower insurance premium (no way to verify that) but it included everything: zero dip, engine protection, key loss protection and tires. Basically, everything I could think of and after adding Rs. 32,000 for Volvo branded mats, mudflaps for the car, the final price was Rs. 43.8 lakh.

An excellent price for a car such as this. They offer a 2-year warranty, and you can extend it by 3 more years and costs about Rs. 1.4 lakh extra. I plan to bargain further and pick up the 3 years extended warranty. They also offer a five-year service package but did not feel it was worth my kind of driving. SA mentioned that servicing cost would be around Rs. 30-35,000 per year.

Here is the Volvo quote, only thing I could think of negotiating was the TR/HSNP/VDC charges.

My apprehensions were as follows:

  • Volvo has low resale value so when I want to sell it, I would hardly get a good price, but again, I keep cars for around 10 years. So If I kept this one for that long I have made good for what I paid.
  • There was no reliable feedback on the aftersales service, so a big risk here. However, with the plan to take an extended warranty, I can prevent any major expenses from my pocket.

I later learnt that Volvo was now assembling the XC40 locally and had enough spares in stock (which will be put to test sooner than I thought).

As I thought about the entire value proposition, I felt it was a good bang for the buck. By now, the new Mercedes GLA specs and pricing had leaked out and it disappointed me. With both their specs for petrol and pricing, while it was well equipped and looked good, the price was way above what I would pay for it, especially for the petrol engine.

After sufficiently mulling over the options and hogging the internet bandwidth to read through forums, videos and whatnot, I also joined the XC40 owners group on Facebook, where the owners from across the world were generally happy with their cars, minor niggles were pointed out and product defects/flaws had been fixed in newer iteration. So, a proven vehicle globally. The dealer network is evenly spread as BMW, especially to the south of India, my territory of lurking around.

A map of dealer spread in South India

Finally, a week later, we went to the showroom and asked for a second test drive and was readily agreed by the dealer. We took one quick ride in the city. This time with my son in the back seat, we had not taken him for the initial test drive. He and my wife experience some vertigo in the Honda City, so wanted to test if this was the case and luckily both felt fine.

With the second test drive concluded, we agreed we liked the car. We paid Rs. 2 lakh as the booking amount and were assured of the vehicle by end of May. My wife was not happy with the limited colour of choice as white was the only colour guaranteed to be delivered early and with no ETA for other options. The white car we saw, the test drive white, was a little too bland. So, we asked for the silver one. The GM sales said colours get allocated in a limited way while he would try. He could not commit a timeline and our waiting game began.

During the wait, I graduated from lurking to stalking on Team-BHP of anything remotely related to Volvo. Posts from Mr. Narayan, psispace were helpful about their experience with Volvo and their long-term ownership reviews re-assured me.

May turned to June and finally to July and regular follow-ups did not yield any results as the lock-down in Karnataka (Volvo factory is in this state) and the second wave had brought things to a standstill. Finally, in the second week of July, I got a call that they had white available for immediate delivery, much to my wife's disappointment. Mr. Saket Singh urged us to go take a look. They unloaded the car in their service centre. So, a quick 10 minutes drive later, we were met by the service center manager who walked us to the car.

The first impressions were extremely good. While the test drive white had been dull and drab (and now I suspect a re-painting job), the new one had a nice metallic sparkle. The wife loved it and so did I and I took advantage of such rare consensus and confirmed the car shortly.

Another point to note is that sometime in between me booking the car in April and delivery in July, Volvo hiked the price of the car by Rs. 1.35 lakh. I was afraid that the dealer would charge the new price. He never mentioned it and I played dumb and the final price negotiated when booking the car stood good and valid.

Car Delivery

After setting up quick payments, I told the dealer I want to pick up the car and drive it out of the showroom by Sunday 11 AM. For which the dealer wanted me to complete all the paperwork by Saturday and finish the registration process as well. So, on Sunday it would be a quick tour of the car and then drive it away. I had watched enough on the thread, "How NOT to crash your car while taking delivery", thus, erring on the side of caution, I asked for a driver to drive it home and the dealer agreed.

Before the final payment, I wanted to inspect the car. The car was still in the service centre, so armed with VIN and Team-BHP PDI checklist, I went to play Sherlock.

I was shown to the car and did a physical inspection and it passed. It had around 20 km on the odo which was great. But, I could not check the functionality of the car as it was electronically locked on pre-delivery mode and none of the electronics worked. Tailgate, sunroof, features on the centre console were all locked and the odo displayed a factory mode or factory setting message (forgot to take the picture). A quick look around outside and inside was what I could do.

A quick PDI

The service centre informed me that it would undergo a software update and will be unlocked for delivery. The car will be driven down on Saturday to the showroom for Sunday Delivery. While my PDI was half completed because of the car being in "locked mode", the physical inspection was satisfactory, so I gave the go-ahead and the final payment.

A side note, the dealer initially told me the car would come from Belgium, but a quick check showed me it was a CKD from their China factory and assembled in Bangalore. Not that I minded, but nevertheless for folks who are particular. The manufacturing plant is Luqiao Plant (CMA Super Factory) according to the VIN sticker.

VIN sticker with manufacturing details

On the day of the delivery, we went to the showroom with the family and a friend for the extra pair of eyes. Everything was ready from the dealer side, a quick check on documents revealed that my father's name was mentioned incorrectly in the invoice. Luckily, it showed correctly in the other documents. The dealer mentioned he would get it corrected and give me a new invoice copy the next day delivered at home. The registration papers, all looked ok.

The car was covered and they made us do the unveiling and the standard photographs with flowers, chocolates and the key cut-out were done.

While I was with the GM sales inside the car understanding the features, my wife looked around and then she found it! A dent! On our brand-new car and our heart sank to our gut. Barely visible on the back, towards the left, above the bumper was a dent!

I don't have a better picture as we were too shocked and dealing with the matter; it is barely visible in the picture but very noticeable in actual.

The GM sales was immediately questioned and he furiously apologised and he promised they will replace the entire side panel. Thankfully, the location where the dent was, the panel can be removed and replaced. Apparently, this might have happened when the staff were cleaning the car late in the night for the next day's delivery.

The panel that was agreed to be replaced (just for illustration, this is not the damaged panel). This is from PDI clicks.

We got pacified to some extent and were reassured multiple times that it would be fixed in a couple of days.

Since the vehicle was already registered in my name, I could hardly do anything and with written assurance by the GM himself (wrote the comment in the delivery invoice that a dent was found with the commitment of replacement which was signed), we took the vehicle home.

When we took the vehicle to my parent's home, who live in a different part of the city, the first thing my mother noticed was the dent; which was another bummer.

However, we got the necessary puja at our regular temple done. Another thing that the dealer mentioned multiple times is that not to have the swastikas etc marked on the car as the colour will never really go away and will be very apparent on white. So had to stand like a hawk in front of the car to ensure the Poojari does not put any marking on the car. Tires and black grill in the front were ok areas.

The next day the manager from the service centre called me acknowledging the dent and apologizing and assuring me to get it fixed. The part would take a couple of days to come and once it was in, they would let me know. I was also in constant touch with the GM sales daily. Because of a festival in between, it got delayed by a few days. Finally on Friday, five days after the delivery of the car, the part was ready.

I was offered the car to be picked up. Anxious, I declined and drove there myself. They took the car into the workshop and hardly 10 minutes later, it was ready. The part had been kept ready and was promptly replaced. Once the car came out, I thoroughly inspected and sighed in relief. There was no difference in paint texture, colour, or misalignment etc. It was perfect. Five days after getting the car home, I was finally relieved and happy.

Dent fixed!

Initial Ownership Experience

Now that the whole dent debacle was behind me, I started slowly exploring my new ride. I turned off things like “lane keep assist” for daily use, otherwise, it would be a constant battle with the car on city roads. I also switched off “road sign detection” for now, as it warns you if you move over the speed limit. Ironically, the car is teaching me to be a good driver, but for now, I could use fewer distractions as I get used to my new machine. But when I tested though, the road sign information picked up speed limits and other road signs pretty well.

Here is the list of the car functions screen which you can toggle on or off.

Fit, Finish and Cabin Impressions

  • The fit and finish of the car are excellent, the cabin looks plush and modern. I really like the minimalist design. I have not yet felt the need to have an extra button for any function.
  • Front seats are comfortable, and the 4-way lumbar support adds additional comfort. The manually extendable thigh support is handy. The front driver seat has the Sweden flag, the only one I could find.

  • AC vents have a chrome finish and look very sleek. All AC controls are via the infotainment screen and are easy to operate.

  • The vehicle is more responsive than expected. Having read multiple threads about lag and linear power delivery, I was pleasantly surprised. Maybe tweaked in newer models? Not sure, but never felt the need or want for more power. No hesitation felt when overtaking.
  • I drove it on the beautiful Hyderabad Outer Ring Road and I could feel some noise inside the cabin, so not super-insulated, but not annoying either. The adaptive cruise control works beautifully, it's hard to resist not putting your leg on the brake, it's unnerving to give up control and trust the car to do its thing. Even with cars cutting lanes in front of me, the Volvo XC40 reacted very well. A feature I am sure I will use in highway driving and would cut fatigue in long drives.
  • Powered tailgate works great and the kick gesture is great to have and my son's favorite feature of the car. Neat little trick. The buttons on the tailgate are convenient.

 You can see the rear camera on the top of the picture as well.

  • The rear seats while not the best in class, are not as bad as I feared they would be. The transmission tunnel and protruding AC vents ensure seating capacity is limited to two at the back. The middle seat is at your disposal for any frenemies you might have.

  • The Thor-hammer DRLs are something else! They are awesome at night. The best DRLs that I have seen on a car.

  • The steering is comfortable to hold and light to use. It has minimal feedback (not everyone would like this). The buttons on the steering are laid out in a clean, easy-to-use fashion. On the left side is the pilot assist/cruise control and on the right side are buttons to select and navigate various options like maps, music and phone and voice assistance.

  • The rear handrest is comfortable and provides access to the panel in the boot. Do note, that the panel can only be opened from the boot side. So if it’s closed, you cannot open it from inside the cabin.

  • The rear view is restricted. The rear camera is essential to use while backing up. Be aware of the car's blind spots while driving, this holds true for any car I guess.

  • The IntelliSafe unit sits on top of the windscreen, behind the rearview mirror. While quite large, it does not hamper the view in any way.

  • The quality of the central console and digital instrument display is excellent. More on that below.
  • Four drive modes are offered. Comfort and Dynamic are the modes that I will end up using the most. Dynamic is not a dramatic improvement by any means. This is not a sports car but neither is it a slouch, kind of somewhere in-between in no man's/car's land?
  • The shifter is covered in leather and looks good. Very unusual and quirky operation, need to press it twice in any direction to engage that function. Reverse is towards the front and Drive is towards the back; something you need to get used to but not really a problem. Has a dedicated parking button.

  • Panoramic sunroof is fantastic. Makes the otherwise monochrome cabin looks airy and spacious. You can open the sunroof regular or just for ventilation (where it just opens in the back slightly).

  • Pedals have a good grip and are comfortable to use. The dead pedal does a good job at playing dead and supporting your leg.

  • The hood has an open latch (yellow colour) and is easy to identify and open once the lever from the inside is pulled. Good insulation under the hood. The engine bay looks busy with no space. I am extremely poor in this department and it would test someone’s patience just to identify anything apart from the battery. So yeah, looks busy.

Features & Creature Comforts

  • The 600W, 14-speaker Harman Kardon speaker system is music to the ears. Covers out every other noise in the cabin, including talkative kids. Against this, the 100W system on the BMW just pales in comparison. The music system is going to be a joy on those long drives. Pair it with Apple music's spatial audio tracks and you are set!
  • Key fob tricks: Press and hold the lock button - it will close any open windows and the sunroof (you need to keep the lock button pressed until the sunroof closes, while windows will close automatically even if you release the button). On a hot sunny day, press and hold the unlock button for all four windows to roll down and AC cools the car down before you step in. Tidy tricks, very useful in hot weather.
  • The digital instrument cluster is really cool. You are greeted with a blank one when you get in the car and it fills up when you start it up. The display quality is excellent.

  • Dash warnings cannot be missed and are easily identifiable. Graphics are nifty and nice. In case you are blind enough to miss them, the car has enough chimes in its armory to warn you. I swear every time I hear a chime I am like, "I did not do anything, I swear".

  • Various functions like trip data, media, phone, and navigation history can be pulled up onto the instrument cluster from the buttons on the steering, which is quite convenient and will minimize driver distraction.

  • The map in the digital instrument cluster is extremely well done. No need to look at the central console. Unfortunately, it is only available in their own navigation app. If you are using google maps, it will not work.

  • Lighting is adequate in the cabin and you can adjust the lighting brightness. The scroll wheel to adjust cabin brightness also adjusts the brightness of the digital instrument panel and infotainment screen. You cannot change the colour of the light.

  • While cabin lights colour cannot be changed, there are LEDs smartly placed whose colour can be changed and they cast light on the shiny parts of the cabin and give you a hue. Will not work in the day due to overpowering daylight. Very understated but works wonderfully for someone like me, who hates some of the over-the-top LED lightings which make the car look like a nightclub. You will be spoilt with a choice of seven colour options. How many colour options does the pointy star have again? Nevermind.

  • Plenty of smart storage. Cardholders, cubby-holes at every nook and cranny. I swear it was designed by a Hobbit. There is a secret cardholder under the USB ports. Once fully inserted, the card is completely out of sight. Someone like me will promptly forget and never find it as long as I am alive. But useful to save that card you use for fuel or emergency. There is a similar card, ticket holder near the boot release button - this I use.

  • Approx. 12 GB of storage is available for apps and maps. Based on which region’s map you want to download, the size varies from a few hundred MBs to a couple of GBs.

Continue reading gismosin's review for BHPian comments, insights & more information.

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