What is it like on the inside?
Volvo says the C40 is ‘all about design’. Naturally that’s brought flaws: scant headroom for anyone six-feet-plus intent on sitting in the back, a not-huge boot with a high floor, and tiny rear visibility, that most familiar of coupefied crossover gripes. Add in a boot release button dangling over the number plate – ensuring it collects lots of dirt and puddle water to muddy your hand as you open it – and you realise style really has won the day.
But this is a Volvo, and the criticisms of its accommodation are minor rather than major. In truth the interior ambience is as zen as it ever was in a Swedish SUV. As a newly launched Volvo, it contains no leather at all (nor will it ever), with its various fabrics and carpets sourced from recycled matter. We’re promised 71 former PET drinks bottles go into each C40 cabin. Try drinking out of anything other than a keep-cup with that stat boinging around your brain.
You said it’s minimalist…
It truly is. There’s no button to start or stop the engine, you just slot the stubby little gear selector into D or P. There’s not even a handbrake or auto hold button – which does encourage you to sit on the brakes in traffic, dazzling drivers behind with red lights. Oops.
All major functions operate through the mid-mounted, portrait touchscreen, and it’s much simpler than when Volvo debuted this layout a few years ago. Signing into Google with your car may awaken the ethical quarters of your brain, but it does make things a cinch to operate. Nav instructions are neatly displayed in the digital instrument binnacle, so idle passengers can faff around with the middle screen all they like – poring judgementally through your Spotify – without disrupting progress.
What else should I know?
Being a Volvo, the seats are terrific, and the backlit dashboard and door trim – mimicking the topography map of one of the designer’s favourite Swedish hiking spots – is a cute and visually satisfying touch.
Which is handy, because some of the materials and functions – not least the snappy manual lever for adjusting the steering wheel position – speaks of a £25k crossover punching up, not a £57k car completely comfortable in its skin. The XC40 on which this is based is one of the UK’s bestselling cars, but that does mean some of the C40’s core bits can’t help but feel mainstream. With less power and a lower price, it’ll all make significantly more sense.