Car review: A tale of two SUVs

SUVs have become a popular choice for Indian consumers, considering that they are more practical and suit our road conditions. We take a look at two new sedans – Volvo XC40 and BMW X1, and find out both their plus and minus points.
Updated on Dec 26, 2018 04:17 PM IST
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The Good

The Volvo XC40 (Arun Changrani)
The Volvo XC40 (Arun Changrani)

Out of these two vehicles, the Volvo XC40 is the most recent compact SUV to be introduced in the Indian market. A complete stand-out, the design is borrowed from its predecessors – XC60 and XC90. The big signature front grille with the massive logo sitting in the centre, along with LED DRLs in the form of superhero Thor’s hammer, look quite stunning. The dual tone color scheme gives this SUV a sporty appearance. The upward sloping window line at the rear and the 18-inch alloy wheels also add a lot to the car’s side profile. Towards the rear side, the compact SUV looks more appealing, owing to Volvo’s signature tail lamps.

BMW X1 (Arun Changrani)
BMW X1 (Arun Changrani)

Meanwhile, the BMW X1 offers an aggressive and sportier front face, which features a prominent chrome grille, along with twin-barrel headlamps with the brand’s trademark LED rings. The side profile looks large with a strong shoulder line and the mildly flared wheel arches, with the 18-inch alloy wheels adding to the smart design. The rear is proportionate to the overall design, highlighting the car’s elegant LED tail lamps cluster.

Interiors of the Volvo XC40 (Arun Changrani)
Interiors of the Volvo XC40 (Arun Changrani)

When we talk about the interiors, the moment you open the door, the XC40 provides a welcome feel. The bright magma coloured carpeting, the door pads and the different texture used in the cabin, with subtle use of chrome, complements the overall design. The big 9-inch vertical touch screen sitting at the center of the dashboard, along with the vertical air vents, which are highlighted in chrome, gives the cabin a stunning effect. This compact SUV comes loaded with features such as adaptive cruise control, pilot assist, lane-keeping assist, wireless phone charging, among others. The cabin has a lot of room to store your small or big items. Additionally, the SUV comes with huge boot space of 460 litres.

Inside the BMW X1 (Arun Changrani)
Inside the BMW X1 (Arun Changrani)

As for the X1, its cabin is quite elegant. The ambient light, coupled with a black and beige interior with wooden trim, looks fabulous. The front and rear seats are comfortable with good under-thigh support. The steering wheel, along with a big paddle-shifter, gives the cabin an overall sporty look. There are lots of gizmos to play around inside the cabin, such as heads-up display, an 8.8-inch display with navigation and touch function, and the panoramic sunroof. Also, do not miss this SUV’s impressive 505-litre boot space, which is a notch above the XC40.

Under the hood, the XC40 comes with a 2.0-litre diesel engine mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. This engine is responsive; especially at low-revs you will really feel the power. The gearbox is smooth and does the job well. The ride quality is quite smooth and it seems Volvo has studied a lot about Indian road conditions. The suspension is tuned in such a way that going over potholes and broken surfaces is not a big issue at all.

BMW’s 2.0-litre diesel engine, which comes with an eight-speed automatic gear box, does a remarkable job. This compact SUV comes with different driving modes, among which the Sports mode is our favorite. That said, in the Sports mode, this car really comes alive and is a pleasure to drive, especially with a quick shift gearbox. Where the handling is concerned, we were quite impressed, considering the SUV’s size and weight. The gear shifts are quick and smooth as the vehicle responds well to quick overtakes.

The Bad

While driving the Volvo XC40, there is a noticeable body roll, which did bother us. The seats are part leather and part Alcantara (a microfibre material), but they are not as comfortable when compared with the BMW X1. The rear seats are not too comfortable either as the sitting position is a bit low, so the passenger’s knees go upward.

Adding to the shortcomings, the infotainment system of the BMW X1 is a bit slow, or rather inactive. The suspension setup is stiff, which means when driving on broken surfaces, the SUV does not filter the noise of the road.

The Ugly

In the XC40, when we tried to fiddle with the infotainment system, we had to drop our eyes off the road. Another negative point is that the vehicle’s rear doors do not open wide enough, so getting in-and-out comfortably is something to be concerned about.

When you talk about the BMW X1, it does get the adjustable bulls sting on the front seats, but cannot get the lumber support. Additionally, this SUV also misses out on the power tail gate.

Interact with the author at Twitter/@arunchangrani

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