30.7.2020Volvo XC40 T5 Twin Engine review
Volvo's XC40 is a very good car. The compact premium SUV has quickly become a firm favourite, with a combination of style and space bringing the buyers in for Volvo. Now there's a plug-in hybrid version, which has the potential to take what is a very good car and make it better. We test the Volvo XC50 T5 Twin Engine to see how it does.
Review by Chris Lilly
Powered by a three-cylinder 1.5 litre petrol engine and electric motor, the XC40 T5 Twin Engine produces a combined 262 hp, with power going through the front wheels via a seven-speed dual clutch gearbox. Performance figures see a top speed of 112 mph and a 0-62 mph time of 7.3 seconds. It's a nippy machine then rather than a high-performance one, but there is ample shove beneath your right foot to get going when required. The pick-up is very good thanks to the electric motor incorporated within the powertrain, and the Volvo XC40 can drive most places on electric-power alone. Stick within the driving range, which covers the average UK trip, and you can drive what is effectively an EV. It's simple, easy, and relaxing to drive, and the motor deals with those short sharp bursts required in town driving. Further afield, and the combined powertrain does well on the motorway and faster country roads. It doesn't have the oomph of the larger XC60 and XC90 PHEVs available, with a 1.5 litre engine rather than the others' 2.0 units. But the smaller, lighter XC40 doesn't really suffer, and the PHEV powertrain offers such a flexible set-up that it's a great pick for buyers.
The XC40 is a lovely car to drive, and the PHEV version is no different. In fact, thanks to the electric motor, it's the most refined in the line-up. The suspension is set up nicely to provide a relaxing, comfortable drive. It's not a sporty SUV, but it still manages to deal well with some quick driving when required. Grip is good, and the suspension keeps the Volvo pretty level in the corners. It rides like a large SUV but has the nimble nature of a smaller model, thanks in part to the wheels pushed into the corners and a square stance.
The XC40 is a great looking car in my opinion, more youthful than the rest of the Volvo SUV range but with many common themes. The squared-off design means that the interior is really practical, with a boxy shape meaning both load area and passenger space are very good considering the exterior proportions. The boot has a false floor and a deep load area, whilst further forward, rear passengers have loads of head, leg, and shoulder space. Those up front have oodles of space, and there are loads of cubby holes dotted about the cabin. It's one of the most practical cars in its class, but doesn't have the dull character some rivals suffer from.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
To say the interior looks like the rest of the Volvo range would be to put it mildly. Thankfully, Volvo's current cabin design is one of the best around, so this isn't a negative. The clean, clear styling is refreshing, and switchgear is well laid-out. The large portrait touchscreen system is a key part of this, and can be divided up for separate displays. The portrait lay-out means navigation is much better, and the system is easy to use, if not the fastest on the market. Materials are very good if not class leading, and everything feels well put together. There are also a number of lovely Volvo design details dotted about the cabin, which mean little, but add a sense of care and quality.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
PHEV economy figures mean little bar comparison with other PHEVs, but the 139.4 MPG and 46 g/km CO2 possible with the XC40 T5 Twin Engine are very good. An electric-only range of 28 miles is quoted, though in reality, it tends to be around 22 miles unless you are sticking to town-only when it increases to about 25 miles. Fuel economy is excellent, with a long run seeing the trip computer display 75 MPG after 60 miles on one charge - much better than any diesel available in the range. At 100 miles, that was 62 MPG, and 130 miles, 58.5 MPG. All are better than diesel models, and that was in hybrid mode with a single charge.
The electric elements are the core green features with the XC40 PHEV. A 10.7 kWh battery allows for the 28 mile official electric range, and can be recharged via a Type 2 inlet at up to 3.6 kW. There is brake energy recuperation to help top-up the battery on the go, and drive mode select to switch between eco, normal, and sports modes, plus the option to control the powertrain systems such as holding the battery's charge or remaining in EV mode etc.
Standard kit for the XC40 includes keyless start, a dynamic chassis, cruise control, automatic LED headlights, 17-inch alloys, rear parl assist, climate control, a comprehensive suite of safety systems, 9-inch touchscreen system with navigation, DAB, and Bluetooth connectivity, high performance sound system, and on PHEV versions, 10.7 kWh battery, 82 hp electric motor, and charging port. Inscription Pro tested sees heated front seats, heated washing nozzles and windscreen, powered front seats, leather upholstery, powered tailgate, driftwood inlays, 19-inch alloys, and front park assist.
The Volvo XC40 T5 Twin Engine takes all the great features of the standard model and adding an excellent, versatile powertrain. If this is how good an electrified XC40 can be, we can't wait for the pure-electric version.
Model tested: Volvo XC40 T5 Twin Engine Inscription Pro
Engine / CO2: 1.5 litre petrol engine and electric motor / 47 g/km
Trim grades: R-Design, R-Design Pro, Inscription, Inscription Pro
On-road price: £42,430
Warranty: Three years / 60,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 4.0 Stars