Our Car of the Year 2018 is still a Swede success

Volvo appears to be selling itself as an established “label”.

And being in a nationalistic streak which really communicates a pride it its product, its chosen label is the Swedish flag.

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Following on from the flags we’ve seen stitched into the leather of the seats in previously-tested Volvos, the XC40 T3 Momentum Pro tested here featured a little rubber protruding from the side of its bonnet.

A cool little touch, I thought.

Sitting just above the base T2 and Momentum in terms of trim, the T3 Momentum Pro (£30,565) adds a welcome dose of additional power and a few more premium features.

Barely believable when you’re wafting along in the XC40’s sound-insulated cabin is the fact that the T3 denotes a turbocharged petrol engine of just 1.5 litres and three cylinders.

In what was the Advertiser’s Car of the Year 2018, the 163PS unit does a remarkable job, propelling the XC40 to 62mph in a claimed 9.1 seconds and on to a potential 124mph top speed with the help of a super smooth eightspeed automatic gearbox.

What impressed most was its effortless, quiet muscularity.

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Claimed fuel economy of 35.8 to 39.2mpg proved realistic, while 147g/km CO2 emissions reflect just a 2g/km penalty over the diesel-engined D3.

Quality oozes out of the XC40 and it’s not just the refined (front-wheel-drive, as tested) powertrain that impressed.

It might be the smaller brother of the XC60, but interior accommodation still makes it a worthy family car and a useful 460-litre boot only restates that fact.

Volvo’s interior styling and quality is up there with the best in class and the leather seats and touches of aluminium combine with well-judged piano black detailing to great effect.

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Standard on all XC40s is the Volvo Sensus nine-inch touchscreen infotainment system which can take some getting used to, its portrait layout and vertically stacked functions lacking the intuitive usability of rival offerings.

But with automatic LED headlights with Active High Beam Control, dual-zone climate control system, keyless starting, rear parking sensors and cruise control all among the other standard features, there’s plenty to praise.

There’s also automated emergency braking with pedestrian recognition and lane keeping technology, along with the Volvo On Call remote control and emergency assistance service.

The “Pro” element of my test car’s trim denotes the £1,550 addition of a heated windscreen, washer nozzles, front seats, cornering headlights and electronically-adjusted memory equipped seats.

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Far from feeling like a brand’s entry-level offering, it’s a small SUV which feels well-built, refined and truly comfortable.

There may be more dynamic rivals out there but you’ll struggle to find one with more understated quality.

Ten months on from handing the XC40 our Car of the Year gong, I’m still convinced it sits at the top of the compact SUV rankings...even with its more modest trim choices, it remains a Swede success.

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