We love our What Car? Car of the Year, the Volvo XC40, but does a used version of its bigger brother, the XC60, make more sense?
It could be the most contentious family feud since Cain and Abel. Take one brand-new, What Car? Car of the Year Award-winning Volvo XC40, the classy and refined new family SUV that has impressed everyone who has set foot in it, and pit against it its bigger sibling, the Volvo XC60, in this guise represented by a year-old example that can be had for the same money as the smaller car. When you narrow down the manufacturer to just one and equalise the pricetag, you get a battle pure and straightforward: do you choose the bigger used car or the bang on-trend new car? Read on as we pick our favourite and compare new versus used.
*** Note : £1 = $1.38 (correct at time of post)
Volvo XC40 2.0 D4 R-Design
- List Price: £34,655
- Target price: £33,470
- Official fuel economy: 56.5mpg
- Emissions: 131g/km CO2
- Power: 188bhp
- 0-62mph: 7.9sec
- Top speed: 130mph
Volvo XC60 2.0 D4 Momentum
- Price new: £35,655
- Price today: £34,500
- Official fuel economy:53.3mpg
- Emissions: 139g/km CO2
- Power: 188bhp
- 0-62mph: 8.8sec
- Top speed: 127mph
Price today is based on a 2017 model with average mileage and a full service history
One glance is enough to tell you that Volvo has branched out with the XC40. Its funky, chunky styling marks the car out as being far more than just a shrunken version of the larger and far more sensible XC60 and XC90 SUVs. From its large and eye-catching grille – blacked-out on our chosen R-Design trim – through to its large wheelarch-busting 20in alloy wheels and on to its neat and distinctive kick-up around the rear window, the XC40 is one considered and successful piece of design, combining the solidity for which Volvos are renowned with the on-trend looks of a younger and funkier dynamic. The XC60, by contrast, is clearly based on the larger XC90, and in terms of outright styling is not without its charms. Its huge grille and neat proportions lend it an air of elegance and quality that are the trademarks of the modern Volvo design language. It’s longer, wider and lower than the previous model, itself a handsome car, and yet has a higher ground clearance. It’s an interesting design, in a class not known for high-fashion sparklers.
Despite the burgeoning popularity of cars in the XC40’s class over the last few years, few of them are still really highly regarded for their driving manners. The XC40 is immediately impressive in this respect, with the punchy diesel engine in our chosen 2.0 D4 version being noticeably quieter in this car than in other Volvos, and the handling of this relatively tall SUV is of a sharpness and an eagerness and a quality that few rivals can match. It even rides well, despite those formidable-looking 20in wheels, with an excellent fluency at higher speeds and a well-controlled firmness at a lower urban pace.
The XC60 is likewise impressive by the standards of its class, but it doesn’t have quite the refinement of the XC40 with this identical 2.0 D4 diesel engine under the bonnet. Nor does it feel as strong in performance, although it’s perhaps lusty enough for most. Its transmission can make the heavier car feel a little lethargic at times, and its handling is perhaps inevitably not as sharp as the smaller car’s. Likewise its ride is not without a little unwanted excitement, being caught out on bigger bumps and slightly unsettled for the rest of the time.
interior & equipment
This is Volvo’s area of expertise with the Swedish firm time and time again churning out cars with both beautiful and calming interiors. The XC40 is no exception, with an interior that looks and feels luxurious, expensive, informal and very pleasant. There’s visual flair in there, too, with its stylised dashboard and air vents, its large central infotainment system with its standard 9.0in touchscreen taking pride of place. It’s a clean and uncluttered design, and there’s plenty of standard equipment to enhance it. Our chosen R-Design trim adds sporty seats, power-folding door mirrors and ambient lighting, which all adds to its classy feel.
The XC60 is likewise opulent in feel and suitably eye-catching. Climb aboard and its Scandinavian style will win over many wavering over other similar SUVs, as will the clear and logical dash and its layout all, like the XC40, centred on the huge tablet-style touchscreen infotainment system. This looks wonderful, but turns out to be a little fiddly in use. Our chosen Momentum trim may be the entry-level spec but it is well equipped, with climate control, automatic lights and wipers and heated leather seats.
space & practicality
The XC40 has plenty of space up front with, in R-Design trim, leather and nubuck-upholstered electrically adjustable seats of decent comfort and support. In fact its wheelbase is only 72mm shorter than the XC60’s, so those in the back won’t have much to complain about either. An adjustable floor and hands-free tailgate make the XC40’s boot easy to access, and it’s a reasonable size in terms of outright capacity.
The XC60 also has no problems with accommodation. There’s plenty of room and adjustability in the driving position, and rear seat passengers are well catered for, with good leg and head room and excellent visibility. There is a little more boot space in the XC60 than the XC40, and again access is mostly unimpeded, with a low lip and a flat load area, as well as an electric tailgate.
The XC40 may be relatively new on our roads but it’s still possible to negotiate a discount on one, according to our Target Price team. For the time being our chosen XC40 is the 2.0 D4 diesel-engined car in the high-spec R-Design trim, a choice that inevitably makes it quite an expensive purchase new, although upcoming versions of the XC40 with different engines may yet mean a revision on our favourite version. It’s possible to get our car for a discounted £33,470, at the time of writing, which is about £1000 less than the price you’d pay for a similarly equipped and very clean year-old XC60 with an average mileage on it. It’s worth bearing in mind that some of the XC60’s initial first-year depreciation will have been taken out of it at this stage, of course.
Both cars are too new for exhaustive reliability data but the previous XC60 fared well in our most recent survey, and Volvo as a brand scored a little below average, finishing in 25th place out of 32 manufacturers. The XC40 comes with a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty, including roadside assistance, par for the course in its class, while the XC60 would have the residue of the same warranty, with two years’ worth left.
According to the on-paper figures, the XC40 should be a little cheaper to run, too, with a claimed average fuel consumption of 56.5mpg against the XC60’s 53.3mpg, although both cars annual road tax should work out the same.
The XC40 is not short of competition in the family SUV class. The BMW X1 is likewise a classy and refined premium car with a spacious and practical interior. It also handles well and has the magnificent BMW iDrive infotainment system. Countered against that, it’s can be a little noisy, with too much road noise, and the ride is quite firm.
The Volkswagen Tiguan has a spacious and practical interior, too, and is also good to drive. It’s a well equipped car, although it lacks the XC40’s style factor.
Competition among the larger SUVs is equally as stiff, with the XC60’s used car rivals including the Audi Q5 and the BMW X3. For the money of our two Volvos you should be able to source a year-old example of the latest version of the Q5, one of our favourite SUVs. This is a superbly refined car, with a classy and practical interior. It might not set your heart on fire to drive, but it’s an excellent all-round package, even used.
This money will also easily buy you a year-old example of the BMW X3, a car that’s good to drive and has a smart interior, although it has just been superseded by a newer variant.