first impressions are super important right well they’re doubly important for these two small SUVs here because they’re not just setting the tone for themselves they’re setting the tone for the brands as a whole that’s absolutely right and if you are looking to bite into the luxury pie as it were chances are you’re going to stick with the same manufacturer for the upgrade that comes next and possibly the car after that too so on one hand we’ve got Volvo’s new XC forty the latest new small SUV that’s making a big dent in the luxury car universe and we thought we’d put it up against what is currently the crowd favorite which of course is BMWs x1 and to compare these cars were going to put them up against each other on three main parameters
number one which one feels like a proper SUV number two which one pampers you better and gives you that greater sense of luxury these are luxury brands after all and number three which one delivers better value but before we carry on and click the little bell to stay notified let’s start proceedings with design and straight off the bat it is Volvo XC40 that looks like a proper proper SUV and that’s because the design that squared off the bonnet line sits nice and high and it’s got plenty of ground clearance as well then there are Volvo’s signature design elements like the all LED thors hammer headlamps the waterfall effect to the tail lamps and those lip-smacking 18-inch machine finish alloy wheels that adds a bit of oomph to the overall design and we particularly dig that clever two-tone theme that’s going around it does make the Volvo look young and fresh the x1 on the other hand has the size quotient on its side sure it doesn’t have the same old-school boxy SUV profile SDXC 40
but it does have the big car appeal nonetheless more importantly it looks properly sporty especially in this shade of Estoril blue combined with the M Sport package but above all else what BMW has managed to do here is unlike the previous generation car this one doesn’t look like a grown up hatchback it looks like it deserves this place next to the X3 and the X5 all the more so when you factor in signature elements like the kidney grille the double barrel headlamps and those 18-inch alloy wheels with the inset spokes but looking the part isn’t quite enough let’s see if they can put the sport in SUV BMWs have always been known as drivers cars and that does hold true for the x1 as well between the two of these it is easily the more fun to drive thing sure they make the same amount of power the same owner talk but when you compare the 0 to 100 test it’s about a second quicker it’s also quicker in the Indy acceleration test as well as 20 to 80 and in no small part is that down to the transmission which isn’t just quicker but also a lot smoother and when you compare that to the gearbox on the XC40
well that doesn’t particularly like being hurried all that much and as a whole if the fun-to-drive aspect doesn’t rank quite high on your parameter list and you just need an SUV that’s got more than enough power to tackle the daily commute and the occasional thrills the XC 40 fits the bill quite well it’s not that it’s not quick or not fast right it is but it’s so much more enjoyable to drive when you’re driving it in a relaxed manner and when you take it out to the gaps the XC 40 can be quite engaging that steering it’s direct its quick but we do wish there was a bit of weight on the steering wheel but that does not take away from the fact that you can properly have fun in the XC 40 around the twisties but then there’s the x1 that simply elevates the experience to the next level and that’s because in typical BMW fashion if the XC40 steering is direct this is director if it’s quick it’s quicker it’s more responsive and it’s just so much fun you take this to a set of corners and it’s very much car like to drive because there’s practically no body roll and sure both of these cars are going to be just as easy to drive inside the city when you’re nice and relaxed but on that one weekend when you decide to go whole hog on the highway or go hauling around the corners it is the x1 that’s gonna deliver a lot more excitement let’s make it clear that both these cars are comfortable on the move both feel like typical euro cars which is to say that the ride quality is formed and you will pick on some side to side rocking movement as you tackle the beautiful roads our country has to offer but if we had to pick one that was slightly more comfortable it would be the XC 40 and that’s because the ride remains consistent irrespective of speed the BMW is slightly stiffer set compared to the Volvo and has a more prominent rebound if you hit bumps at higher speeds before we sign the section of let’s tackle one last question which one feels easier to drive we’d say it’s the XC 40 again because you sit higher so you can see the edge of the bonnet with more ease that’s not the case with the BMW x1 where you sit low in fact the x1 is very car like to sit in the cabin of the x1 is quite car light to get in and out of as well the upside here is that as you can see this is a cabin that’s big enough for 4 average sized adults to fit in quite comfortably that said the M Sport can be all black interior that comes with it it does me the cabins seem a bit smaller than actually is also as you might have figured out already it doesn’t sit all that tall and there is a plus and minus to this the minus being that the driving position isn’t as commanding as it is in the XC 40 but the plus is that people of almost any age can get in and out quite easily and that is a minor hiccup in the XC 40 especially for those who want to spend their time at the rear bench now the door itself that’s quite narrow and the opening is quite small so the less athletic among us will take some practice getting in and out comfortably but once you’re in you’d find that the seat back it’s a bit too upright now if it was slightly more reclined even at the expense of boot space we’d have preferred that but look past that and it is v XC 40 that offers more knee room and more width at the rear the only compromise comes in the form of headroom so if you are above six feet tall yeah the roof is going to be your new best friend the small hiccup is more than made up for by the XC 40 swanky interior design the dashboard sits high up and carries the typical Volvo design theme that includes the nine inch touchscreen and a minimal eight button layout if we could change one thing we add softer material on top of the dash on the other hand BMWs dash reminds us how softest dashboards are meant to be but in terms of design it’s a mixed bag while some will like the functionality of the plethora of buttons some might find the clutter a bit much as far as the features are concerned it is Volvo’s XC 40 that wins this round hands down because over and above the top spec BMW x1 the XC 40 gets you LCD screen in place of the instrument cluster heated front seats an electric tailgate as well as a wireless charging pad for your phone what puts the x1 further on the back foot are some strange feature misses at this price point for example you do have a smart key and even push-button start but there’s no passive keyless entry you have to hit unlock every time you get inside the car and top of that you don’t have cruise control and in this particular variant which is the top spec M Sport no apple carplay or Android auto if we discuss what’s common then both cars here get leather upholstery powered front seats with memory a panoramic sunroof dual zone climate control and LED headlamps in terms of safety features the BMW gets six airbags anti-lock brakes with EBD and a host of tech including stability control and traction control the Volvo gets all of that and then kicks things up a notch with radar based safety tech such as Lane Keeping Assist and adaptive cruise control now we completely understand why BMWs x1 is such a popular SUV it looks posh it demands attention it is luxurious on the inside and to top it all off it is properly fun to drive as well what was XC 40 well that is kicking the game up a notch not just by offering more features but by doing so at a price point that undercuts the BMW x1 to top it all off it does offer more space at the rear a more comfortable ride quality for everyday usability and more safety tech as well so we put it this way if you’re looking for the most fun to drive car the more exciting package altogether and you’re ok with the few compromises when it comes to the feel good features we’d say go ahead and get the BMW x1 it does deserve a place in your garage but for practically every other reason it is the Volvo XC 40 that feels more like a true blue SUV it is the car that pampers you better and the one that delivers better value
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