Still, the steering is far too light and vague, and the brakes feel grabby. The car doesn’t seem to enjoy being flogged, even though it does 0 to 60 in an estimated 6.2 seconds.
Inside, an artful mix of materials, patterned metallic trim, perforated leather and nubuck upholstery, feels decidedly high-end.
The paddle shifters, for example, are plastic but give the impression that they are crafted from metal. The backs of the paddles, where you’ll place your hands when shifting in manumatic mode, are coated in grippy rubber.
They feel luxurious in hand, better than the ones in $100,000-plus grand tourers from the likes of Mercedes. The rubber backing is an artful touch, one that is largely unseen but reveals a keen attention to detail.
The well-designed interior aside, the XC40’s 9-inch Sensus touch-screen system, which controls nearly all of the SUV’s functions, is a major letdown.
It presents a clunky and maddeningly frustrating interface: slow at times and largely unintuitive. There are few redundant physical controls, making it tough to bypass the portrait-oriented screen.
This makes even the simplest of actions, such as adjusting the heat or air-conditioning, unnecessarily laborious.
It’s particularly frustrating because many car companies, Genesis and Lexus among them, seem to have figured out the right balance between physical and screen-based controls. (The Sensus system does offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, which could improve your experience depending on your comfort level with those interfaces.)
Because this is a Volvo, there’s an array of safety features on offer. Our test vehicle included the $1,100 vision package, which includes a cross-traffic alert and auto-brake system that can stop the car to avoid a collision.
For much of my week with the XC40, I was annoyed by the feature, because on a few occasions, it engaged when it wasn’t needed, and the vehicle startlingly slammed on the brakes in an attempt to avoid some imagined impending catastrophe.