When it comes to compact luxury sport utility vehicles, the BMW X1 has been at the forefront of sales in India and is probably the most competitive offering out there. That was off course until Volvo decided it was time India got a taste of the new XC 40. Both SUVs have packed in plenty of features and are quite sporty to drive. But when you are shelling out over Rs 40 lakh, making the right choice can be rather tricky. The recently-launched Volvo XC 40 draws heavily from its well-endowed elder siblings. While we conducted a test drive of this compact luxury SUV and were mighty impressed with its performance, we find out how well it would fare when juxtaposed to the mighty BMW X1.
The latest entrant to the compact luxury SUV segment, the Volvo XC 40 has a lot to offer, but more importantly it brings in a lot on the technology front; a fact no other competitor can boast of at present. The Volvo XC 40 features first-in-segment kit like radar-based driver assistance programmes. Other than that, the XC 40 ticks off a few more boxes on the feature list, when stacked up alongside the BMW X1. For instance, the XC 40 has a power tail gate operation, while the X1 does not. Volvo has also offered Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity options on the XC 40, thus ensuring convenience of mobile integration into the overall driver experience. Plus, there is wireless charging for Qi enabled phones, a feature not available on the X1. The BMW X1, on the other hand, has some exclusive facets such as a reclining rear bench and a Head-up Display (HUD).
Both these SUVs get the basic necessities of modern day cars, including features like automatic headlamps, rain sensing wipers, power adjusted driver seat with memory function, USB charging, AUX input, Bluetooth connectivity & telephony, tyre pressure monitoring, steering mounted controls, electrically adjustable and retractable ORVMs, one touch up down windows, multiple interior illumination, touchscreen infotainment, navigation, ISOFIX anchorage, six airbags and rear parking camera.
Moving ahead of the feature list, we try to bring out more factors that can contribute in assisting a buying decision. Through this comparative study, we try to highlight a contrast between the performance of the Volvo XC 40 and the BMW X1 on multiple scales.
POWERTRAIN & PERFORMANCE
Apart from BMW and Volvo, the Audi Q3 and the Mercedes-Benz GLA also compete in this segment. But both the Volvo XC 40 and the BMW X1 have engines that have been rated for higher power and torque outputs. While BMW has used a 1,995 cc four cylinder turbo diesel engine on the X1, the Volvo XC 40 gets a fractionally smaller 1,969 cc four cylinder turbo diesel engine. Both motors on the German and Swedish made SUVs have been rated at developing a maximum of 190 hp at the crank. Peak power in both motors is generated at 4,000 rpm. Corresponding torque figures of both engines stand at 400 Nm that comes in from 1,750 rpm going up to 2,500 rpm. Both engines are mated to 8-speed AISIN transmissions that have wide gear ratios and lower torque loss that provides a better engine performance and contribute towards improving fuel efficiency. Both Volvo and BMW offer varying drive modes on their compact luxury SUVs.
During our tests, we found the BMW X1 to be quicker than the Volvo XC 40 to a 100 km/h. Despite the Volvo XC 40 being lighter by almost 183 kg, the X1 is a shade quicker recording a 0-100 km/h time of 9.03 s. The Volvo XC 40 registered a time of 9.18 s to the 100 km/h mark from standstill. That said, the Volvo XC 40 is quicker off the line, but the BMW X1 gathers momentum a little faster.
In a 0-60 km/h run, the BMW X1 achieved its mark at 4.32 s, while the XC 40 crossed the mark 0.44 s slower than the X1. These tests were conducted in Sport mode for the BMW X1 and in Dynamic mode for the Volvo XC 40. The BMW X1 may be quicker to the 100 km/h mark, but the Volvo XC 40 was first to achieve standstill in panic braking conditions down from the 100 km/h mark. While the XC 40 registered a time of 4.14 s, the BMW X1 recorded a time of 5.06 s in our tests.
We evaluated multiple aspects of both compact luxury vehicles in our tests. The Volvo XC 40 may be quicker to a halt from 100 km/h, but the BMW X1 felt a little more sure footed in doing so. The steering on the Volvo is also lighter than that of the BMW X1. This makes it a little more comfortable to manoeuvre the XC 40 in congested traffic and tight parking spaces. The suspension on the Volvo XC 40 also feels a little better in contrast to that of the X1. The X1 has a suspension that has been tuned to be a little stiff. So while the XC 40 is more comfortable over bumps and breakers, the X1 feels a lot more planted at higher speeds and around corners.
SOUND INSULATION & NVH
Apart from features, comfort and luxury, we evaluated the quietness of the cabins of both luxury vehicles in multiple conditions. The measurements were taken using a Robert Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions application with which we measured the sound level in the cabin of both vehicles under multiple conditions. Our findings indicated that the Volvo XC 40 has a marginally quieter cabin. The Sound Level Meter (SLM) indicated a maximum of 86.4 dB(A) in the Volvo XC 40. In contrast, we recorded a maximum input of 97.2 dB(A) in the BMW X1. The minimum input we recorded in BMW X1 was 73 dB(A), while the corresponding figures in the Volvo XC 40 were lower at 68.3 dB(A).
The above figure displays a visual representation of the FFT (Fast Fourier Transform) module versus time. The colour spectrogram showcases different sound pressure levels inside the cabin of the Volvo XC 40 and the BMW X1, segmented over a period of time. What can be observed is a better dampening of sound inside the cabin of the Volvo XC 40 over the BMW X1. The measurements taken inside the cabin of the BMW X1 record a sound level of between 25 – 35 dB between a frequency of 5.01 – 17.5 kHz; in contrast, the sound level recorded inside the Volvo XC 40 in the same frequency is lower and lies below the 25 dB mark, meaning a marginally quieter cabin.
Both BMW X1 and Volvo XC 40 are unique offerings in the luxury SUV segment, but Volvo takes the XC 40 further and beyond with its radar-based safety tech. Features such as adaptive cruise control, park assist with park in and park out functions, semi-autonomous driving with functions like active brake assist & lane keeping assist, ensure the Swedish contender offers more convenience and safety in comparison to the BMW X1.
While the Volvo XC 40 has a lot more tricks up its sleeve, the X1 is a little better on the drive and performance front. That said, the XC 40 feels more comfortable to drive in the city. Overall comfort for occupants, including NVH levels and sound insulation is slightly better in the Volvo XC 40. With a more competitive price tag, the Volvo XC 40 appears to be a better offering.
Text: Joshua David Luther
Photo: Bharat Bhushan Upadhyay