What was once a marque known mostly for its safety and conservatism has come out swinging in recent years with more styling swagger.

No longer does one look at a Volvo as only a sensible-shoes type of car driven by one’s elderly uncle, as design-wise it’s undergone a transformation akin to Clark Kent changing into Superman. Underneath, the Swedish vehicles are the safe and steady Volvos we’ve come to know, but the swish new styling has helped them garner a number of awards. It was the XC90 large SUV that kicked off the renaissance followed by the midsized XC60, and most recently the XC40 which was voted Europe’s 2018 Car of the Year. It isn’t hard to get swept up in its charms, particularly with the modern cabin which infuses Swedish minimalism with a more sophisticated touch than the somewhat plasticky Volvos of recent years. As with its larger stablemates the XC40’s materials give off a premium vibe with soft-touch plastics and classy chrome accents. This interior glamour is...

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