It's been a while since the Volvo XC40 was launched in India and instantly the compact SUV established itself as a strong contender to its rivals from Germany. Market reception also has turned out to be positive with the XC40 driving the growth of Volvo in India and making it the fastest growing luxury brand in India in 2018. While we did highlight in our first drive review of the Volvo XC40 why it is a strong contender in its segment, our impressions were limited our short experience of a day with the car. So in order to find out how good it really is in every aspect when put to use in almost every real-world situation we planned a short journey with it. The idea was to get to Mussorie and spend a couple of days and get back and assess its strengths and shortcomings. Little did we know that we would experience a snow whiteout surprisingly in Mussorie in mid-February. So how did the little Volvo cope up with the treacherous roads in UP, twisties in the hills and finally the unexpected snow? Read on to know about our memorable experience with the Volvo XC40.
Delhi to Mussorie road distance and condition
I started out in early morning from West Delhi in order to beat traffic and was on the Ghaziabad road in about 40 minutes. Just as we were on the verge of exiting Ghaziabad border, heavy rains slowed our movement as visibility was limited. In about 10 minutes hail made its way on to the area we were passing and although it lasted briefly it did come down quite heavily. By this time the highway roads were already slippery with the combination of water and ice and this is where the All-Wheel Drive system of the Volvo XC40 came in handy. Not that other cars were struggling to move but having more traction gave me more confidence to be quicker than the general traffic without compromising safety.
Constant rain over the next hour or so meant that visibility was poor for a while. By the time visibility got better we had a new and big problem – Roads! The condition of roads after Muzzafarnagar was horrible as there was construction going on. Rains meant there was slush on a surface that cannot be called a road even by rural standards and this for God's sake is a highway!
It was on these pathetic roads that the ride quality of the XC40 proved its case. For over two hours, right up to about 30 km before Dehradun the roads remained bad and still we were quite comfortable as the suspension did a good job of soaking in the undulations.
Once back on good roads, we quickly crossed Dehradun as traffic didn't hold us up much and we were soon driving through the twisties up into the mountains. The Volvo XC40 is a compact car so it did not resist quick directional changes. Even through sharp turns and at considerable speeds the car maintained its line and was predictable throughout. The steering also offered a decent amount of feedback, which helped in pushing the car further through the corners. Overall, the XC40 performed in an impressive manner through the turns and gave us no reason to complain. Sure, it isn't a sporty or sharp handling SUV but that also isn't the purpose it is made for. What it does well is offering a balanced performance in all departments and this level of balance is something none of its competitors offer presently.
With the hill section over, we were at our hotel by 1 pm and were all set for a cold evening as temperature in afternoon was as low as 7 degrees celsius and there was a strong breeze as well. With a chilly night gone we woke up amazed in the morning as Mussorrie was draped in white! It snowed heavily in the night and while we did miss seeing the snowfall the sight of a white Mussorrie was splendid! With no expectations of seeing snow in February, this sight was an absolute treat for us.
This also meant that the next challenge for the Volvo XC40 was already lined up. Since there was snow all around we had to go out in the car and while it could be a bit risky we decided to trust Volvo's All-Wheel Drive system and its famed safety technologies. Once out we saw many Toyota Innovas and Mahindra Xylos struggling for traction on the roads covered in snow and ice. It was genuinely difficult as the mix of ice on the road surface meant tyres had very little traction. The Pirelli tyres on the XC40 worked like a charm in these conditions and allowed for the AWD to efficiently propel the vehicle. Tackling a few inclines, especially while going down was a bit tricky as the XC40 was sliding around a bit but still managed to not veer off into oncoming traffic or the sides of the road.
This also meant that we were among a few number of vehicles once we crossed Mussoorie onto our way to Dhanaulti. However, we never reached Dhanaulti as a few km ahead we were informed that the road is closed due to snowfall and some minor landslide. Hence, we did make our way back to the hotel but this outing was enough to make us completely respect the little Volvo for braving conditions that we thought would have overwhelmed it.
Next day, we had a quick breakfast and started our journey back to Delhi. Most of the snow had melted but there was still a bit of it on some roads. That, however, didn't matter much as this was almost nothing for this little Volvo with big capabilities. The journey back was uneventful and we again had to cross the patch where highways were visible only on the map but in reality we were doing off-roading. In about 7.5 hours we back in Delhi and in great shape as the Volvo XC40 kept us comfortable throughout the journey.
The trip also allowed us to understand the XC40 better as it went through a tough and eventful journey. The Volvo XC40 is clearly the best option in its segment as far as a balanced approach is concerned. The XC40 is a master of pretty much all trades and that's what makes it unique among rivals such as the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and the Mercedes-Benz GLA. So if you want a compact SUV that does it all without any problems and in great style there is nothing better than the Volvo XC40 in the market today!