Okay, so let’s get this clear: this particular Volvo is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle – that’s PHEV for short. Yep, a catchy acronym, I know. If you’re still clueless, it means the car runs on electricity and petrol power.
So, in theory, you could get more than 100mpg out of this compact SUV – if you drive like Scrooge. But, the Volvo XC40 PHEV is only easy on the pocket if you remember, or can be arsed, to hook the lead up to a power socket and wait for it to charge. It took me over four hours to get 24 extra miles – but I only used a domestic outlet (you can use much faster power sources). If you don’t have the time or the inclination for all that – then the traditional tank of petrol is only going to get the 1.75-tonne car so far. You may be fortunate to get 45mpg in the real world – as I did!
Hybrid tech is a good idea, though – and when you get into the routine of charging up, you can, if you’re patient, get up to 28 miles of out-and-out electric range. Useful, then, for quick journeys around town, or for when you’ve motored home on fumes. I did that late one evening – but plugging in at home while I slept meant I was met with some welcome additional miles in the morning – more than sufficient to get to a petrol station.
The Volvo XC40 T5 Twin Engine is also an excellent way to go if you’re deciding on which company car to go for next. The minimal CO2 rating (38g/km on this test model) means significant benefit-in-kind tax savings.
Away from the techy talk, the XC40 is a civilised chariot for a family of five. My three children sat cosily, yet happily, in the rear, and there’s loads of space for the driver and passenger upfront. The cabin is meticulously-made – like every Volvo, and the boot is large enough to cram lots into – although you may want to remove the plug-in cable carrier if you need every millimetre of space.
The XC40 Recharge provides good visibility for all occupants, and the car is jam-packed with equipment – including a premium sound system, Apple CarPlay, and countless safety aids. The PHEV is also swift off the mark, with a zero to 62mph time of just 7.3 seconds. Furthermore, the steering is gratifyingly weighted, and the easy-shifting seven-speed automatic ‘box takes care of all the cog swapping bother for you. It’s a painless vehicle to pilot.
Hybrids are a halfway-house between orthodox cars and one hundred per cent electric vehicles, but, for the time being, the XC40 is one of the more likeable PHEVs to drive. So, if the Recharge Plug-in Hybrid T5 is on your employer’s company car list, or you’re thinking about making a car purchase, then you won’t go far wrong pulling the trigger on this parsimonious Swede.
Car reviewed: Volvo XC40 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid T5 R-Design Pro Automatic, price as tested £40,905 0-62mph 7.3secs Top speed 127mph Engine 1477cc, three-cylinder turbo petrol + electric motor Fuel Economy Combined mpg: 119.1-139.4 (Allegedly) CO2 emissions 174g/km Max Power 262PS Transmission 7-speed auto
Tim Barnes-Clay qualified as a journalist in 1994 and is a member of the Midland Group of Motoring Writers. He initially trained in broadcast journalism and has worked as a reporter and news reader at various radio stations in East Anglia and the Midlands. He has also been a motoring journalist for the Mirror Group’s L!ve TV cable network and a presenter, reporter and producer at ITV Central in Birmingham. Tim is now an automotive writer, focusing on car reviews. He has media accreditation with all motor manufacturers’ press offices, and this enables him to test drive the latest cars. He also attends new vehicle press launches at home and abroad.
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