2023 Volvo XC40 B4 facelift review, road test - more tech, same solitude
The electric XC40 Recharge may be making headlines lately but the standard combustion-engined Volvo XC40 has always been one of the more enticing options in the small luxury SUV segment. So what is it like now that it gets a minor update for 2023? We'll see what the new mild-hybrid powertrain Volvo has been rolling out across its lineup, more tech and slight updates inside and out do for the XC40.
2023 Volvo XC40 B4 facelift exteriors
You'll need a keen eye to spot how the Volvo XC40 has changed with this update. Most of it centres around the new more angular headlamps with the swept-back LED light signature and a similarly sharp housing for the fog lamps. The rest of the face is largely carried over.
But the changes to the side are a bit of a step back we think. The alloys for the 18-inch wheels are now a fairly-plain single-tone shade while the dual-tone colour palette has been lost too. This takes something away from the crisp, square stance the Volvo XC40 has always had. But generally, the XC40 continues to look distinctive and contemporary despite now being around for a while. The rear remains largely untouched aside from the new B4 variant badging and a single-tone bumper insert.
2023 Volvo XC40 B4 facelift interiors, features
The additions on the inside of the 2023 Volvo XC40 are a touch more apparent. The cabin itself remains largely unchanged so that plush serene feeling when you step inside is still intact. As before, the quality of materials and finish is up there with the best in this segment.
It's not as flashy as say the GLA but there is a similar sense of luxury from the minimalist design and high quality. The Orrefors glass shifter makes an appearance on the XC40 now, replacing the old quite plasticky one, enhancing this sense more than you would think. Aside from the grey cabin seen here, there is also a new beige option. This may be difficult to keep clean but will probably broaden the sense of space inside.
Also new is the latest Android-based infotainment system that Volvo debuted with the XC60 and S60 earlier this year. The hardware remains unchanged so with newer competitors around you do wish for crisper menus and a higher-resolution screen, but the deep Google integration that brings with it Maps and Assitant and other Google services works naturally. A drawback is there's no phone-based Android Auto anymore but iPhone users get Carplay. The new digital instrumentation will also show Google Maps right in front of you so navigating is quite easy, although there's little scope for screen customisation otherwise.
The XC40 deserves a special mention for its cabin's space and practicality. The front seats are large and cushioned just right. You even get extendable squabs so it's comfortable over long stints behind the wheel. The centre console gets a thoughtful set of cubbys with even a small removable dustbin in the centre armrest. The door pockets too are large and have a rich felt lining to them.
Similarly at the back, the XC40 is one of the more comfortable cars in this segment. The backrest cushioning could have been a bit softer but it's still a supportive bench with good amounts of knee and legroom with a flat floor. The panoramic sunroof also doesn't eat into the headroom too much. The boot too is usefully spacious at 584 litres with a low load lip and an intricate through-loading space for large objects.
As for other new features, you get a PM 2.5 air filter and USB-C charging. Carried over is a 14-speaker Harman-Kardon audio system, wireless charging, panoramic sunroof, and lumbar support although cooled seats are missing.
2023 Volvo XC40 B4 facelift ADAS, safety
The Volvo XC40 gets the updated ADAS tech that Volvo debuted with these mild hybrids but the system doesn't seem as reliable as the ones on the XC60 and S90. This could be down to the XC40 lacking a front camera. The assistance system can tend to sometimes lose track of lane markings on bends and then add slightly exaggerated corrective inputs when it does detect the markings again. This isn't a problem on straight roads and the collision avoidance system did kick in promptly but we wish Volvo adds a front camera to make this system fully effective.
A new addition is that of blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert and braking.
2023 Volvo XC40 B4 facelift driving impressions
The Volvo XC40 now adds a 48V integrated starter-generator to the 2.0-litre turbo-petrol motor. This works in much the same way as other such systems, making for quick start-stop functions as well as providing a marginal boost to performance to smoothen out the XC40's powerband. Power output has gone up by 7PS to 197PS while torque is still at 300 Nm, the engine pairing with an 8-speed Aisin torque converter. Our real-world mileage test(see below) also suggests there's been a small jump in efficiency with this change.
The way the Volvo XC40 drives hasn't changed exceptionally with this new powertrain although the SUV now gets off the line in a smooth, intentful way that is quite noticeable. The electric motor also seems to do a good job of covering the gaps in the engine's powerband, making for linear in-gear performance across most conditions. It does enhance the sedate, laidback demeanour of this SUV.
Performance is more than adequate for most needs and the XC40 has the legs both in keeping up with traffic or highway driving in a way you would want a luxury car to. A downgrade with this update is that you no longer get drive modes or an S gearbox mode. This would have been a useful addition since the gearbox isn't the quickest with its downshifts on slightly heavier throttle inputs, so brisk overtakes can be a bit less straightforward than we would have liked.
As before, the XC40 isn't an SUV for those looking for driving thrills. It's best driven calmly where it shines with its straight-line stability, refinement and a general sense of solidity. Drive a bit harder and you do notice a fair amount of body roll as well as some pitching and diving over undulations. The steering also could do with a bit more feel on-centre but this improves as you turn in. It's otherwise reasonably precise and makes the XC40 easy to manoeuvre. We wouldn't bother with the firm steering setting though since it doesn't seem to do anything more than add artificial heft. The positive to this softer demeanour is that aside from some firmness over sharp cracks and potholes at low speeds, the XC40 takes most other road imperfections well. Very little is passed into the cabin so it's a great option for those looking to be chauffeured around.
2023 Volvo XC40 B4 facelift price, verdict
As before, the Volvo XC40 is keenly priced starting introductorily at Rs 43.20 lakh. The SUV is still one of the stronger contenders in this segment with its quality, value-proposition and comforting driving demeanour. Although we would have liked to have seen fewer feature deletions with this change, the new equipment does add to the general sense of solitude you get with this car.
2023 Volvo XC40 B4 facelift real-world mileage, performance
0 to 100 kmph - 8.8s
30 to 50 kmph - 1.6s
50 to 70 kmph - 1.7s
60 to 80 kmph - 2.1s
100 to 0 kmph - 43m, 3.1s
City - 8.7 kmpl
Highway - 15.1 kmpl
Overall - 10.3 kmpl
Images by Vaibhav Dhanawade
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