The Volvo XC40 was officially launched in Malaysia this morning, at an event in Genting Highlands. The much anticipated smaller sibling to the XC60 and XC90 SUVs was spotted undisguised in August, and was launched in Thailand last week.

As speculated, we’re getting the XC40 in T5 AWD R-Design spec, priced at RM255,888 on the road excluding insurance. The 2018 European Car of the Year debuts here in locally-assembled CKD form – production has started in Shah Alam and deliveries will start from January 2019. No first batch CBUs for sale this time around.

Previewed accurately by the 40.1 concept from 2016, the Volvo XC40 sits on the company’s Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) platform. It measures 4,425 mm long, 1,863 mm wide and 1,655 mm tall, with a wheelbase of 2,702 mm. The rear track (1,626 mm) is 25 mm wider than the front.

To compare, the F48 BMW X1 is 14 mm longer, but 42 mm narrower than the Volvo, which also sits 57 mm taller than Munich’s junior SAV. The other cars in the premium compact SUV segment are the Mercedes-Benz GLA, Audi Q3 and Lexus UX.

The refreshing thing about the XC40’s design is that it isn’t a scale copy of the larger XCs. Highlights include the now familiar modern Volvo face with signature “Thor’s hammer” LED daytime running lights; scalloped sections near the hood, rearmost pillar and lower doors; a shoulder line that rises sharply where the rear door handles are; and a “floating” black roof. Unlike the XC60 and XC90, the rear number plate is not situated on the hatch, which is left sparse here.

Besides the trademark LED DRLs, the headlamps are full LED units with active high beam function and active bending lights. The XC40 also comes with high-pressure headlight cleaners and LED fog lights with cornering function.

The R-Design trim brings with it a unique gloss black grille, bumpers (rear piece has integrated dual exhaust outlets) and R-Design lettering where the rear pillar meets the roof. Gloss black is repeated on the roof rails, skid plates and door mirror caps.

We get 19-inch five-double spoke two-tone alloys with 235/50 tyres as standard, but there are four other rim designs on the options list, including 20- and 21-inch items. There are four colour options to go with the black roof: Bursting Blue, Fusion Red, Crystal White and Osmium Grey.

The XC40’s cabin will be one of its strongest points, just like with recent Volvos. Here, the Swedish carmaker has paid particular attention to how urbanites store items in the car, and has catered accordingly. For instance, by moving speakers away from the door and developing a world-first, air-ventilated dashboard-mounted subwoofer, the door bins can take in a laptop and a tablet, or a couple of water bottles.

There are also slots for cards, and under the centre armrest is a large cubby with room for a tissue box. There’s also a removable bin for trash and fold-away hook in the glove compartment. Under the driver’s seat is a storage space good enough for a tablet. “Designed to make every day easier,” they claim.

As we’re getting the R-Design, the cabin has a dark theme and headliner. Unique R-Design items include the three-spoke steering wheel with perforated leather, gear lever, sport pedals, inlays, front tread plates, textile carpets and R-Design seats in leather and Nubuck upholstery. The key fob is also unique to the R-Design. It’s very modern and digital in here, thanks to the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, 9.0-inch Sensus Connect portrait touchscreen and wireless charging pad.

More comfort and convenience features come in the form of a dual-zone auto air-con with cooled glove box, Clean Zone interior air quality system, rear air con vents, a 250W eight-speaker sound system, navigation, Apple Carplay and Android Auto and a hands-free powered tailgate.

The 1,704 kg XC40 T5 AWD is powered by a 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder Drive-E engine with 252 hp and 350 Nm of torque from 1,800 to 4,800 rpm. Paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission (with shift paddles), that’s good for 0-100 km/h in 6.4 seconds and a top speed of 230 km/h. Claimed combined fuel consumption is 7.7 litres per 100 km (13 km/l) in the European cycle.

Of course, there’s no shortage of driver assist and safety features, active and passive. The XC40 T5 comes with Adaptive Cruise Control; Pilot Assist semi-autonomous drive (these two are in the IntelliSafe Assist package); City Safety (collision avoidance and mitigation with intersection support); pedestrian, cyclist and large animal detection; front and rear collision warning; Driver Alert Control; Lane Keeping Aid; Run-Off Road Mitigation with Road Edge Detection; Oncoming Lane Mitigation; BLIS and cross traffic alert with auto brake.

As for airbags, the whole cabin is covered – dual front, side, curtain, driver’s knee – and there are Isofix child seat attachment points on the outer rear seats.

VCM is also offering a range of accessories for the XC40, from a dog harness in four sizes to mudflaps and bicycle racks. The red car in the gallery below sports the exterior styling kit (silver bits around the lower front/rear/sides, rear spoiler extension, exhaust finishers, RM13,888), 20-inch five-double spoke matte black wheels (RM15,388), load carrier (RM1,688) and bike holder (RM999).

To recap, the Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design is priced at RM255,888 OTR without insurance. VCM says that the T5 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid variant is in its plans, subject to hybrid CKD incentives. For a detailed list of specs, equipment and optional kit – and to compare the Volvo side-by-side with its German rivals – check out CarBase.my.

GALLERY: Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design