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VOLVO’s smallest SUV, the compact XC40, has been named European Car of the Year.

It is the first time the award has been won by the carmaker.

The XC40 got a substantial 325 votes – well ahead of SEAT’s Ibiza (242) in second. The BMW 5-series was third on 226 votes.

The award is voted on by a jury comprising 60 journalists from 23 countries.

Volvo’s company chief Håkan Samuelsson said the award-winner represented the future of the brand as it takes it “into a new and fast-growing small SUV segment”.

Strong early orders for the car suggest a bright future, especially in China where strong interest is anticipated.

Apart from design, build quality, clever use of storage space, 2WD/All-Wheel-Drive (AWD) etc, the fact XC40 is the first Volvo to have a car-sharing feature may have influenced some votes. The feature means owners can share their car with family and friends without having to hand over a physical key.

And it is the first to have a new subscription service, called Care by Volvo, which lets customers pay a flat fee for everything (use of the car, insurance, maintenance etc) rather than outright ownership.

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