Here’s a statement I never thought I’d utter 10 years ago, people should buy more Volvo’s. In fact, people should specifically buy more Volvo SUV’s. In this instance I’m reviewing the Volvo XC40 Inscription which is the baby of the bunch. But be it the XC60 or XC90 Volvo really know how to balance out looks, performance, safety and quality with sheer precision. I’ve spent a week in this car and despite driving the base and sports model before I was again reminded that this car is quite a feat. 

What is it?

A Swedish five-seat SUV with turbo-charged petrol engine, all-wheel-drive and more safety gear then Goulburn’s Supermax gaol. The Inscription model sits between the Momentum and sports orientated R-Design XC40. It’s more skewed towards those with a luxury bent, for example it has a crystal gear shifter, drift wood trim and lots of nice soft leather. 

But most importantly it offers a new engine choice known as the T4. It’s an alternative to the more powerful T5 now reserved for the R-Design. The former D4 diesel option has been dropped across the range. 

Behind the Wheel

This is just a beauty from the driver’s seat, it’s as simple as that. Volvo execute their own unique take on luxury, but the cabin is certainly worthy of a second or third look if you’re considering a German equivalent. I love the portrait style touchscreen with its touch and swipe features, vertical air vents and overall sense of decent and in some way captivating materials used. 

It’s amazing how a well-sized quality steering wheel makes you feel special straight way. That feeling of inherent classiness in the hands certainly extends to the rest of the vehicle. It’s a serene, well insulated drive that for an SUV sits flush with the road even when pushed. 

This level of engagement and poise is partly due to a dynamic chassis set-up plus the bonus of on demand all-wheel-drive. While not as quick as 180kW T5 models the 140kW T4 hustles along nicely and is more than happy to be thrown in dynamic mode, for a sharper throttle and more enthusiastic gear changes. 

There was rarely a road that fazed the T4 Inscription, except for the odd council ignored pot hole. Not bad considering it rides on 19” rims. If I had to pick out a minor flaw, I’d say the steering tune isn’t as finely honed as some European competitors and does have a typical Volvo artificial feel to it. The brakes do a fantastic job, they feel strong and robust and have the perfect amount of progressive pedal feel to them.

Plus what about those looks, for a small SUV it’s relatively imposing particularly front on.

Vital Stats

The 2.0-litre turbo-charged four-cylinder petrol T4 engine produces 140kW/300Nm with the latter coming on at an early 1400rpm. The 0-100km/h dash is over in a relatively sedate 8.5 seconds. There’s one transmission, an automatic eight-speed Adaptive Geartronic box that can be thrown into manual mode via the crystal shifter, there’s no paddles here.

The XC40 is also jammed packed with plenty of handy features to make life easier. In the glove box is a shopping bag hook, the cargo area has a load net anchor point, foldable floor hatches with more bag hooks plus the rear backrest is foldable via a centre console button or another one next to the tailgate controls. Finally, a small waste bin can be found in the front armrest.


When I think Volvo, I think safety, the brand never disappoints in this area. The list of features is as long as the best of them. AEB helps mitigate collisions with pedestrians, vehicles, and large animals (The Moose is rampant in Sweden). Intersection collision and oncoming mitigation will try and stop you from being t-boned or involved in a head on crash via brake and steering support. 

Under the banner “Intellisafe Assist” there’s all the now common driver assistant aids such as lane keep assist, blind spot monitor, cross traffic alert, front and rear collision warning and even a system that steps in should you stray off the road. The list is longer than “War and Peace” to be honest. 

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are supported on the 9.0’’ vertical screen, plus there’s a wireless charging pad for compatible smartphones. That’s great but unless the smartphone connectively software is wireless it’s basically pointless. 


The Volvo XC40 range starts from $44,990, but the as tested Inscription model begins at $50,990 before on roads. Our car was also fitted with the $2,500 Technology Pack that brings with its adaptive cruise control, 360-degree camera and park assist pilot. The front seats came heated for $550, tinted glass came in at $700, the power folding backrest $250, heated rear seats $350 and a riper Harmon Kardon Premium sound system for $1,200. Oh, I forgot, one option I’ve never heard of – a lockable glovebox for $30? That’s just taking the piss! All up the car in the pictures is priced from $56,570. 

Fuel economy is rated at 7.4L/100km, I hovered around 9.4L/100km which I think is normal considering it’s a 1.7 tonne petrol SUV.

Why Would You Buy One?

Because you’re in on the secret, Volvo are producing bloody good cars. Oh, an there’s that whole Wheels Car of the Year award if you don’t believe my dribble. 

EFTM Scoreboard

If I was French, I’d say it’s a case of par excellence whereas the Swedes would say förträfflig. Anyway, I hope you get the point. It’s a 9.1 out of 10 from me.