New Volvo XC40 vs used Volvo XC60: which is best?

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.

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

New Volvo XC40 vs used Volvo XC60 – styling

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.

New Volvo XC40 vs used Volvo XC60 – driving

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.

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