Ian Lamming is homeward-bound in Volvo’s excellent XC40.
IT’S the long drive home, but that’s okay.
Food has been consumed, gifts exchanged and the feeling is fuzzy and warm. It’s 9pm, the end of a long hard day socialising and while family head upstairs and around the corner, we have 82 miles to cover in the pitch dark, along country lanes, to bed.
That could be a chew to be honest, a trial, a challenge, but it’s not, because the car in the drive is a Volvo, in this instance the XC40, a favourite of mine.
It welcomes driver and occupants by lighting up on approach. The tailgate rises electrically so arms full of presents can be deposited in a large and well-shaped load bay which closes to protect our stash.
Inside, the glow from the dash is comforting, so is the heat from the seats, which warm bottom and small of the back mercifully quickly as the warmth from the climate control filters through.
Stunningly powerful LED headlamps illuminate the way back home; the light even bending to maximise the view. The all-wheel-drive plants the XC40 to the road and it shrugs off wet, slimy, muddy roads, that are cold and covered in squished leaves.
The powerful 190PS diesel engine works in harmony with the super-slick eight-speed automatic gearbox – the stubby little gearlever is a delight – to transport the Volvo swiftly on its journey home. It is not simply an easy ride it is an enjoyable one. The XC40 is a supremely able and gratifying way to drive and it thrives on miles gulping them down with reckless abandon.
It’s a Volvo so we all feel safe because Volvo invented safety and the raft of electronics which spark away under the XC40’s attractive skin keep it pointing in the right direction and maintaining the optimum speed at all times. This car is staggeringly clever and keeps a watchful eye on you from all directions.
Add to this excellent mixture a simply brilliant 14-speaker Harman Kardon hi-fi, which links via Bluetooth to Spotify, and the following 90 minutes on the road could not be a more enjoyable experience.
Is it just me? Have I been affected by the heady mood of the season? No. My friend opted for an XC40 on my recommendation instead of the Italian SUV which had caught his eye. Regrets? Not a single one. His only complaint? He can’t stop driving it and is putting too many miles on the clock.
And that’s the strength of the XC40, it has you looking for the long drive home whether it is one or not.
XC40 D4 AWD R-Design Pro
Engine: 2.0 turbo diesel
0-62mph: 7.5 secs
Top speed: 130mph
Combined miles per gallon: 44.1
Transmission: eight-speed automatic
CO2 g/km: 133
Price: £41,005.00 $}