Anyone who’s been to Metro Manila has probably experienced the city’s infamous traffic jams. And for the most part of the week, we are often stuck on the road far longer than it’d take to get to another country. In short, we spend most of our daily lives stuck in transit. And I’ve noticed that when it comes to cars, everyone talks about fuel consumption and styling—but let’s shift the focus here. Instead, let’s talk about what it is like to spend several hours inside this small space that sometimes doubles as a mobile office/home and doing everything there—sleep, work, eat, eat while working—you get it. And so, when I was given the opportunity to get stuck in traffic in the Volvo XC40, also the winner of the Japan Car of the Year award, I wasn’t going to say no.
All the Fine Details
The XC40’s interiors exudes a playful, youthful vibe compared to its siblings while still maintaining the brand’s signature Scandinavian minimalism. Inside, it feels bright, airy, and spacious thanks to the expansive windows as well as the panoramic sunroof. It manages to tastefully balance bold style without it appearing gaudy and integrates elements that draws looks. The seats are luxuriously upholstered in a blend of Nubuck/Nappa leather and fabric. Guaranteed 101% snooze friendly.
On the sides, a pop of color spills seamlessly from the armrest lining down to the flooring, creating a rich contrast with the dark interiors. This is, of course, optional but it’s a strikingly bold move that Volvo pulled off very well. Aside from its dashing good looks, the XC40 also integrates functionality into its design with several storage spaces and holders.
All door panels have a storage area that can easily fit a small to medium sized laptop and can store your folders and documents as well. There is also a foldout hook on the compartment that can hold small bags. On the tunnel console, there are two cup holders along with a removable waste bin for small pieces of trash.
And pardon me for going into driver mode for a moment, but one of my absolute favorite features can be found on the driver’s side in the form of rather unassuming small slats just below the air conditioner designed to hold parking cards. And why must I mention this while barely containing my excitement? Because every single time I enter a parking space, I inevitably fumble for a place to put the card in without it dropping to the floor or sliding away somewhere into the depths of the car (this happens more often than you think). This addition speaks of the level of detail Volvo has put in that is so often overlooked but proves beyond useful in daily drives. Below the touch panel smart system (more on it later on) is also a built-in wireless charging pad. If you don’t own any tech with wireless charging capabilities, there are USB 2.0 ports on the front and rear and also a USB type-C port on the rear end tunnel console that you can use to power up which makes working in the XC40 a breeze.
One Smart Ride
When stuck in long periods of congestion, the XC40 keeps its cool and offers a comfortable ride. It’s also got a nifty feature where it automatically turns off the engine when you stop so that you save on energy. On the open road, it’s a pleasure to ride—much more so knowing that you are in good hands during every trip. Having created the V-type three-point seatbelt that we know today, Volvo vehicles are equipped with several safety features to ensure both driver and passenger safety. The XC40’s seatbelts come with the standard seatbelt tensioner, which locks you into place with sudden quick force and for additional safety, the driver and front passenger has an electric tensioner that helps adjust the passenger to a better position in the event of an accident. There are also multiple airbags present that smartly work with the seatbelts to ensure the best possible outcome during a collision.
On road trips or errand runs, the 9” infotainment system, Sensus Connect comes with a range of useful features. Here, you can navigate, send texts, as well as manage your phone through the system and vice versa. There is also a mobile app—Volvo on Call—that acts like a personal assistant. It allows you to control the car through your phone, tablet, or smart wearable. For example, you can pre-cool or pre-heat the car remotely, check gas levels, lock and unlock doors, and pre-send directions to it for easy navigation. Another very interesting feature the app provides is ‘shared mobility’ where your friends and family can use the car even if they don’t have the actual keys. You can set periods of access and the user can now find, lock, unlock, and use the car through the app and operate it with a spare access key found in the car’s compartment.
The car can also access the internet through Wifi from your phone either through a mobile hotspot or through the Bluetooth connection. When connected to the internet, there are a number of native apps here like Spotify, TuneIn, Record&Send, WikiLocations, and more that you can use. Through the infotainment system, you can also adjust driving settings and look up your stats, among others. The smart system has made a lot of things much more efficient and accessible, but I would have to draw the line with settings that are better toggled with a physical control (especially when driving alone) like the air conditioner. While it allowed for custom air temperatures to come out of different vents for the picky passenger, it’s a bother to jab at the panel (and get it right) if you can’t give it your full attention. Aside from this, though, I have no complaints.
Listening to music and other media is a treat with Apple Carplay or Android Auto on the XC40’s 8-speaker sound system. Sound is crisp and well-distributed wherever you sit in. For audiophiles, there is an upgrade option to a 13-speaker Harman Kardon Premium Sound System that uses a unique, air-ventilated woofer that delivers precise, powerful sound without taking up cabin space. The Harman Kardon Sound System uses Dirac Unison tuning software to optimize the response of every speaker. Its Automatic Level Adjustment delivers a seamless listening experience by maintaining a consistent sound level, while special algorithms adjust the output to compensate for external noise.
For Volvo’s first luxury compact crossover, the XC40 2020 R-Design is beautifully designed inside and out and the perfect match to young professionals and new families. Its sporty good looks and bold interiors combine functionality and tech to create a car that offers solid performance fit for the modern lifestyle.