Road tests 19.7.2018 10:37 am

DRIVEN: All-new Volvo XC40

Abundance of electronic nannies shield the driver, which does not add to a hands-on feeling.

This writer sometimes dabbles into scientific research, coming up with different findings than those of experts whose views are generally accepted as gospel.

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Take the Tyrannosaurus Rex, for instance. Palaeontologists tell us this species of dinosaur was the most aggressive of all animals, ever.

Unlike other flesh-eating dinosaurs, who would kill in order to feed themselves or when their lives or those of their offspring were threatened, the T-Rex would attack whatever other living being it happened upon.

Weighing in at around 10 000kg, the T-Rex was by no means the largest breed around, but that did not stop it from immediately fighting much bigger creatures to the death.

The experts say this was due to the T-Rex’s environmental movements – it travelled long distances and would always try to forcefully establish its own living area wherever it went.

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They are, of course, wrong.

Look at a picture of the T-Rex and notice those ridiculous little arms. There is your explanation.

Anything that lives to be 400 years old without being able to scratch its ass even once has the right to be in a perpetual bad mood.

That is my take on the subject and I stick by it.

We, and palaeontologists throughout the world, have agreed to disagree on the matter.

Other things, generally taken as fact, are also not necessarily correct.

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For instance, many motorists believe people buy Volvos because they are the safest cars around. Not so.

These days, there are many other reasons for buying a Volvo.

Take the new Volvo XC40, for instance.

For a start, it is visually appealing, looking somewhat like a XC90 that has shrunk in the wash.

At 4 425mm long, 2 034mm wide and 1 652mm high it is chunky, purposeful and solid in appearance.

It sits 221mm high to indicate off-roading ability and the test vehicle sported beautiful 19-inch, diamond-cut five-spoke alloy wheels in low-profile rubber.

Adding much to its presence, the vehicle comes with Volvo’s unique T-shaped front-lighting signature, plus high-level LED lights and side illumination while cornering.

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Naturally, the XC40 boasts a bewildering array of safety equipment, including pedestrian and cyclist detection, emergency brake assist, blind-spot information system, lane keeping driver alert, road sign identification and on-coming lane identification.

And, if all of that plus disc brakes with ABS all round does not prevent you from crashing, there are air bags and safety curtains, plus whiplash-protection for front occupants, all contained in an enormously strong safety cage.

The XC40 is technologically sound, powered by a transversely fitted 1 969cc four-cylinder, 16-valve diesel engine that employs twin turbochargers to produce 140kW of power at 4 000rpm and 400Nm of torque between 1 750rpm and 2 500rpm.

The grunt and twist goes to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

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Inside, the XC40 boasts everything electronic that can connect to everything else electronic – far too much to list here.

If you have an electronic device, the Volvo will have a socket for it.

That apart, it has its own touchscreen computer, navigation system and sound system – all top-notch equipment worthy of any luxury vehicle.

It seats five adults in comfort and has massive luggage space with a locking case for valuable items like laptops.

Volvo say the diesel model will accelerate from standstill to 100km/h in 7.9 sec with a top speed of 210km/h, and we have no reason to disbelieve them.

The vehicle does not feel sporty, but the torque is fantastic, surging seamlessly from low down and making overtaking a simple exercise of putting you right foot down slightly either in city traffic or on the open road.

Meanwhile, a turning circle of 11,8m makes it easy to manoeuvre, while a park-assist system makes it simple to squeeze into narrow spaces without damaging the paintwork.

New Volvo XC40 – interior

With a myriad of electronic nannies looking after one’s wellbeing, the driver is somewhat shielded from the vehicle’s mechanical operation on the move, which does not add to a hands-on feeling or any sporting aspirations.

But this Volvo will probably spend most of its life ferrying kids to and from school, with sporting or off-roading adventures never being entertained.

We managed – without trying to save diesel – an average fuel consumption of 6,4 litres per 100km.

Driving with a lighter right foot would certainly result in lower figures.

The XC40 is, like one has come to expect from a Volvo SUV, a sturdy, tough, ultra-competent and incredibly well-appointed vehicle – all yours for R637 800.

New Volvo XC40 – exterior

All Volvo CX40 models come standard with a five-year/ 100 000km maintenance plan, that includes Tracker Connect roadside assistance.

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