The Volvo XC40 is a trend SUV from the style book on its 20-inch rims. The grille in high-gloss black contrasts brutally with the Inscription White Metallic of the paint. White stitching contrasts sharply with the black leather cheeks of the seats. A hallucinatory decorative grid of silver cubes on a black background slides across the dashboard. The doors are covered with a felt-like dark gray fabric, radical chic. But its pièce de résistance is the bag hook.
It is hidden behind the glove compartment lid. Open it, unfold it, and your bag will float above the floor like the ghost over the waters. Up to two kilos, it says. So that you don’t think: let me hang a shotgun or full Aldi bag on it. Here belongs a handbag.
I am a man from the province with no beginnings of understanding of the good life, here external advice is required. I page a test woman. He reports with a bag on an alarmingly fleshy handle that has fallen out. Look test woman, I say proudly, Volvo with handbag hook! Now get what: the thing doesn’t fit. Handle too thick.
Stupid car, says the test woman.
What type of handbag do people carry with a Volvo according to Volvo? I let my friend style icons update me and make an inventory of what is on offer. The slim gold chain of the Gucci GG Marmont Matelassé is a good chance for hanging. Hermès, Chanel and Vuitton are running a zigzag course in terms of handle thickness. Dior is allowed to conclave with the Swedes like lightning: knoeperds of handles apply for a meat hook. It confirms my suspicion that the creators were hoping for a Gucci audience. The wearers go shopping from Stockholm to Beijing and are the salt in the porridge of the crossover market. Always on the lookout for a new kick, they will be irresistibly drawn from their obligatory BMWs and Minis to the playfully coarse XC40. It is in those circles that the money that he can best cost. What is expensive? You can get it from 40,000 euros. But then it has three cylinders, front-wheel drive, a manual transmission, no stitching and no block decoration, an aspiring Volvo for the bag proletariat. The beau monde takes mine for at least sixty grand; a T5 AWD with four-wheel drive, 247 hp two-liter turbo, top of 230. Only an express train in the straight line, because corners you take slowly; high-rise buildings.
Pearl of the consultation round
Sentence has never been the intention of its kind. Volvo will think otherwise. For its small length of four meters forty-two, the luggage compartment of 460 liters – with the rear seats folded down 1336 liters – is indeed quite acceptable; the bigger XC60 does little better. Volvo has asked the public for advice on the furnishing and has sourced the most sensible advice. The pearl of the consultation round is the storage compartment under the center armrest, tailor-made for a box of tissues. The bass subwoofers for the dolphin speaker system moved from the front doors to the dashboard, giving the door pockets more room for bottles and even laptops. I was able to test that on my own and they are indeed deep enough for my only Volvo thing, a MacBook Pro. An extra drawer under the driver’s seat fits a tablet or perhaps a tiny ladies bag, Dutch practical.
On the other hand, Volvo is sending out subtle warning signals to keep Kia and Hyundai people away. The Consumers’ Association will sound the alarm in time about the rear seat with the too straight backrest and the too short seat. For example, the handbag hanger will not be desecrated by a holiday waste bag with packs of soda and traditional chocolate wrappers. Too expensive for Almere, he will stay with us. It’s something different than an XC60 with the same engine, the same gearbox, the same four-wheel drive, multimedia and digital meters. See that silly vertical kink at the C-pillar. Totally crazy!
In that clown suit, Volvo hoisted a solid, healthy car with two annoying traits. Firstly, the creep position of the automatic transmission, which sets the car into motion too abruptly after releasing the brake pedal. Second, the gear lever that you have to double click like a mouse to pop it from P through Neutral into Drive. The Volvist new style will proudly say: once you feel it, you won’t want anything else. That’s not how I’m put together. I’m into meat hooks and solid pushing and pulling. Too late, too late.