By motoring journalist, Tim Barnes-Clay. Follow on Instagram @tbarnesclay,
Let’s get this out of the way; this Volvo is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). That means it runs on petrol and electricity. So, theoretically, you could get well over 100mpg out of this car – if you’re careful. But, the XC40 PHEV is only economical if you remember, or can be bothered, to connect the lead to a power source and charge it up. If you don’t have time, then the conventional tank of petrol is only going to propel the chunky 1.75 tonne SUV so far. You may get 50mpg in the real world – as I did!
The hybrid idea is a good one, though – and when you get into the habit of plugging in, you can get as much as 28 miles of pure electric range. Handy, then, for short trips across town, or for when you’ve driven home on vapour. I did exactly that one evening, but plugging in at home overnight meant I was greeted with some welcome extra miles in the morning – more than enough to get to a fuel station.
The XC40 T5 Twin Engine is also a good bet if you’re choosing your next company car. The low CO2 rating means considerable benefit-in-kind tax savings.
Away from the slightly technical geeky guff, the XC40 is a decent chariot for a family of up to five. My three kids managed to sit with enough comfort in the rear, and there’s plenty of room for the driver and front-seat passenger. The cabin is clearly well-made – like all Volvos, and the boot is big enough to stuff lots into – although you may want to discard the plug-in cable bag if you need every centimetre of space.
There’s lots of visibility for everyone, and the car is well stuffed with kit – including Apple CarPlay, a quality sound system and many safety aids. The Volvo is also quick off the mark, with a 0-62mph time of 7.3 seconds. What’s more, the steering is satisfyingly weighted, and the sweet-shifting seven-speed auto ‘box takes care of all the gear changing hassle for you. Basically, it’s an effortless motor to drive.
Hybrids are pretty much a stopgap between conventional cars and pure electric vehicles, but, for now, the XC40 is one of the more pleasant PHEVs to ride around in. So, if you have the Recharge Plug-in Hybrid T5 on your company car list, or you have over £40,000 swilling around in your bank account, then you could do worse than pulling the trigger on this Swedish SUV.
Pros’ n’ Cons
- Well-built √
- Safe √
- Efficient when used properly √
- Pricey to buy X
Fast Facts – Volvo XC40 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid T5 R-Design Pro Automatic – as tested:
- Max speed: 127 mph
- 0-62 mph: 7.3 seconds
- Combined mpg: 119.1-139.4 (Allegedly)
- Engine layout: 1477cc, three-cylinder turbo petrol + electric motor
- power (PS): 262
- CO2: 38 g/km
- Price: £40,905