Volvo XC40 T4 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid review

Volvo’s Recharge plug-in hybrid line-up has rapidly expanded, and now offers not only one PHEV option in each model range, but increasingly two or more. The XC40 SUV is a case in point, with two Recharge PHEVs available to choose from - the entry-level T4 and higher-powered T5.

Review by Chris Lilly

VOLVO XC40 T4 RECHARGE: PERFORMANCE

Powered by a three-cylinder 129 hp 1.5 litre petrol engine and 60 kW electric motor, the XC40 T4 Recharge produces a combined 211 hp. It puts that output through a seven-speed automatic gearbox to the front wheels, allowing for a 0-62 mph time of 8.5 seconds, and a top speed of 112 mph.

The electric motor means that response is good at low speeds, while the little three-cylinder motor thrums gently at higher speeds. When charged, it provides a well balanced combination of performance and efficiency, and the T4 Recharge proves well suited to town driving. On open roads, it will settle down thanks to long-geared top ratios, but the gearbox can be a little laggy in changing at higher speeds.

HANDLING

Volvo’s XC40 is a refined and comfortable car to drive in other specifications, and the T4 Recharge is no different. As a way of cruising along, it is one of the best in its class, and can cover high mileages with ease. It’s a true Volvo in this respect, and even as the smallest of SUVs from the firm, the XC40 T4 Recharge still feels like a grown up model.

Thankfully, its compact footprint means the XC40 tackles town driving nicely as well. The squared-off proportions mean it’s easy to place the Volvo on the road, while light steering lacks feedback, but it does at least easily allow you to thread the XC40 through tight gaps.

BODY STYLE

That previously mentioned squared-off style means there is plenty of space in the XC40 for occupants. The boot space is good - not amazing, but certainly ore than enough to deal with the daily and occasional demands of a family of four. Rear seat space is ample too, with plenty of space for a couple of child seats or a pair of six-good adults, without causing complaint even over long trips.

There are a large number of cubby-holes, and the load area has under-floor storage, plus large bins behind the wheel-arches for additional kit. In the cabin, the huge door bins are a sensible shape, and there are options for stashing kit throughout the cabin. The only area it lacks compared to some rivals is a shallow storage space in the centre console - it’s where the car’s battery is stored after all. This means that there is no compromise in space when comparing the PHEV to conventional petrol models.

COMFORT & CONTROLS

Volvo XC40 T4 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid review interior

The Volvo cabin is a very good one, and although the touchscreen system is starting to show its age, the whole set-up still works nicely. Newer versions of the Volvo Sensus infotainment system are being built on Google, which makes things faster and easier to update, but the existing system still works well - just not as well as some rival options. However, the portrait orientation for navigation is something extremely useful, and would allow me to forgive a huge number of sins. Thankfully, the Volvo set-up doesn’t need such a forgiving nature.

The driver gets a digital set of instruments which can be customised to a degree, and the screen is crisp and easy to read. Other controls are kept simple, but look good and work nicely. Materials aren’t as high quality as other models in the Volvo range, but this is the entry-level SUV it must be remembered, and things certainly feel premium inside.

VOLVO XC40 T4 RECHARGE: RANGE & RUNNING COSTS

Volvo’s official fuel economy figure is up to 134.5 MPG for the XC40 T4 Recharge, with emissions down to 47 g/km and an electric-only range of 28 miles on a charge. It’s the most efficient of the plug-in hybrid XC40s - wither T4 or T5.

In real-world conditions, the XC40 T4 Recharge was achieving 21 miles on a charge, though this was in wintery conditions, and I would expect 22/23 miles in warmer times. Fuel economy is a notoriously fickle figure for plug-in hybrids, considering it varies greatly depending on how much electric driving is covered. As a minimum, a single full charge and more than 300 miles of largely motorway driving meant that the trip computer was showing 45.1 MPG - though this is a worst case scenario. More regular recharging between trips means that it quickly climbed to more than 75 MPG even on longer drives, and regularly ran on electric power alone for local trips.

GREEN CREDENTIALS

The electric-only driving ability is the XC40 T4 Recharge’s biggest strength in terms of green credentials. This is enabled thanks to a 10.7 kWh battery, which is smaller than rival efforts, but still enables a comfortable 20+ miles on a charge, which should cover the school run/supermarket trip/commute for most customers.

This battery can be recharged at up to 7.2 kW through the Type 2 inlet on the front nearside flank, and will replenish in less than two hours easily. Brake energy recuperation helps capture some energy that would otherwise be wasted, and there are connected car services accessible via the app to help check on charge, set timers, and arrange pre-conditioning.

OPTIONAL EXTRAS

There are two trim levels available for XC40 T4 Recharge customers - Inscription Expression and R-Design. Fitted as standard to all XC40 Recharge PHEV models are a 12.3-inch digital instrument display, 9-inch portrait touchscreen with Google Automotive Services, navigation, and smartphone connectivity, wireless phone charging, City Safety pack, automatic LED headlights, powered tailgate, keyless start, and 17-inch alloys.

Fitted to the R-Design specification tested were 19-inch alloys, gloss black design details, leather upholstery, sports chassis, and sports steering wheel. Packs added on top of that included lighting which included active bending headlights and LED foglight, park assist which adds front parking sensors and a reversing camera, climate pack which includes heated from and rear seats, windscreen, and steering wheel, and versatility pack which includes keyless drive plus handsfree tailgate opening/closing, and puddle lights.

VOLVO XC40 T4 RECHARGE: MODEL SUMMARY

The Volvo XC40 T4 Recharge may not have the headline performance figures its more powerful T5 stablemate does, but for many it will prove the better all-round pick. Cheaper to buy or lease, it also makes sense as a company car choice for drivers. Good levels of practicality and occupant space in what is a relatively compact family car are useful, and the plug-in powertrain is flexible enough to work in most use cases.

Volvo XC40 T4 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid review rear

Model tested: Volvo XC40 T4 Recharge R-Design
Body-style: Family SUV
Engine / CO2: 1.5 litre petrol engine and electric motor / 47 g/km
Trim grades: Inscription Expression and R-Design

On-road price: XC40 range from £25,855. T4 Recharge R-Design from £39,445
Warranty: Three years / 60,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 3.5 Stars

Chris Lilly

Author:Chris Lilly
Date Updated:12th Apr 2022

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