CUT TO THE CHASE

THE LOW-DOWN ON THE XC40 IN THE HIGH COUNTRY

ANDY ENRIGHT

REPORT THREE

VOLVO XC40 T5

Price as tested: $62,710

This month: 3204km @ 7.7L/100km

AS YOUíLL HAVE noted from the opener to this Garage section, Iím currently in the rather excessive and embarrassing position of running two long termers: one is the current Wheels Car of the Year, and the other is a bona fide carbon-tub, doorsgo-up supercar. So you can see why that combo is worth putting up with a bit of stink-eye in the office for.

As a result of the McLaren arriving, Iíve been able to spread the good news about the Volvo XC40 a little wider, and the recipients of the Enright largesse this month were video director Josh Robinson and photographer Ellen Dewar. I donít think Iím offering too much in the way of a spoiler to let you know that youíre set for one heck of a comparo in a forthcoming issue when we pit BMWís M2 Competition against the Alpine A110 up on the Great Alpine Road. The XC40ís role was to act as a chase car, camera dolly and hauler for all the imaging equipment. And that is a lot of gear.

Itís said that nature abhors a vacuum and so do photographers and video teams. Any available space in a vehicle gets filled with hard cases, stuff sacks and tripod bags until itís packed to the roof lining. Both Dewar and Robinson looked a bit sceptical when offered the XC40 but were duly impressed with the amount of gear it could swallow. ďI reckon I can get more in here than I would have done in my FJ Cruiser,Ē admitted Dewar. Robinson was more impressed by the pace the Volvo could carry on a twisty mountain road. ďSorry for holding you up,Ē said the impeccably mannered chap after almost driving the tread clean off the tyres.

Indeed, on some of the grittier sections of the road up from Harrietville to Hotham, the XC40ís all-wheel-drive advantage meant that it could punch out of corners at a pace that neither of the sports coupes could quite level with. Whatís more, it did so while consuming less fuel on the route up the hill than the featherweight 1.8-litre Alpine A110. Go figure that one out.

The XC40 returned to Bauer Towers filthy and definitely in need of a little TLC. But having earned its spurs on a Wheels road test, itís certainly not short of respect. There are some COTY decisions that the lens of hindsight can warp into personal uncertainty and doubt. This isnít one of them.

ANDY ENRIGHT