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Volvo XC40 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid Review

Volvo charges forward with a plugin-hybrid XC40

Volvo continues to surge forward with its electrification program; what you see here is one piece of the puzzle.

This Volvo XC40 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid builds upon the fantastic XC40, with its terrific interior, exterior styling and ride. However, the PHEV model goes a step further and adds an electric motor capable of carrying you 40kms without the use of any liquified dead dinosaurs.

We really liked the combustion-engine-only XC40 when we drove it earlier in the year, so how does this plug-in hybrid compare considering you do pay a premium for the Recharge version?

What’s it like inside?

The interior of the XC40 Recharge varies little from the petrol-powered version the Recharge is built upon.

You get brushed aluminium inserts along the dash and doors and the same nine-inch, vertical touchscreen infotainment system that comes loaded with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, along with some slightly different functionality that we will touch on later.

A “Lifestyle Pack” was optioned on our test vehicle for $3,000 – this adds a panoramic sunroof, tinted rear windows and a Harman Kardon sound system.

You’ll sit on the same comfortable electric adjustable seats too, with a memory function for the driver. Also fitted was the $900 “Comfort Pack”, which adds heated front and rear seats as well as a heated steering wheel. Definitely a useful addition to consider for those cold winter months.

Looking forwards, nestled behind the simple uncluttered steering wheel, is a 12.3-inch digital driver display. Here, you can access your trip computer, view directions from the satellite navigation and see lane configurations of upcoming intersections – regardless of whether you’re being directed by the satellite navigation or not. Drivers have the ability to customise the look of the dials themselves.

Boot capacity also remains unchanged, with the same 460 litres on offer. This sits behind some competitors like the Audi Q3 and BMW X1 but has more space on offer than the Mercedes-Benz GLA.

With the interior and boot space relatively uncompromised, you might be asking “where did they put the battery?”

The engineers have managed to neatly package the battery underneath the centre tunnel, meaning no space is lost due to the extra technology, battery and cabling.

There’s plenty of little storage spaces and thoughtful touches throughout the cabin. Bag hooks, for instance, make quick impromptu shopping runs that much more convenient.

Among the more interesting features within the nine-inch command system is ambient lighting, which can be changed manually or can be selected to automatically adjust based on the temperature. There was also a setting to keep the cabin cooler on hot days when you are not in the vehicle.

If selected, the vehicle will monitor the cabin temperature and close the shade cloth across the panoramic sunroof, blocking out the sun. A great feature for summer in Australia.

You won’t run into any problems in the back either, with a good amount of leg and headroom for your average-size adults.

All-in-all, we like the interior of the XC40 Recharge.

What’s it like to drive?

The XC40 and XC40 Recharge Plug-in hybrid don’t pretend to be anything they are not. You can see that from their styling.

They aren’t sporty – they are sensible, comfortable daily drivers.

As you motor around town, the XC40 Recharge cruises over imperfections in the road surface without trouble. Heading through corners, this soft ride doesn’t translate into excessive body roll, which is often associated with these compact SUVs.

In terms of handling, it is perfect for town driving.

Sweetening the deal, there are crisp reversing cameras and the vehicle comes equipped with an automatic parking functionality, so if you are living or commuting around the city and aren’t all that confident parking, your Volvo will do it for you.

You’ll be glad for the parking assistance, as the large C-pillars on the XC40 negatively impact over-the-shoulder visibility.

Moving on to the powertrain, the XC40 Recharge is powered by a 1.5-litre, three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, which is capable of producing 132kW and 265Nm unassisted.

It works alongside a 10.7kWh lithium-ion battery that powers an electric motor. The motor is capable of producing 60kW and 160Nm and able to travel 40kms without the need for petrol when fully charged.

Drive is sent to the front wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that you’ll barely notice shift when you are driving around on fossil fuels.

You can throw the vehicle into a regenerative braking mode too, which slows the vehicle while you are not on the throttle, allowing the XC40 PHEV to recharge its battery and extend its electric range with normally wasted energy.

If you tap into the infotainment system, swiping to the left, there is also a “charge” option which basically uses the petrol engine to top-up the battery.

Using these two features, you can regenerate a decent amount of range. We managed to restore roughly 18kms on a 45km highway trip – handy if you aren’t going to have charging access at your destination.

How safe is the Volvo XC40 Recharge PHEV?

It’s a Volvo. I think that says it all. Along with the frontal airbags and side-impact protection system (SIPS), which includes airbags in the front seats, curtain airbags and whiplash protection, you will also get the following as standard:

  • Pedestrian, vehicle, large animals and cyclist detection
  • Intersection collision and oncoming mitigation with brake support
  • Lane keep assist
  • Driver alert
  • Adjustable speed limiter function
  • Blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert (CTA)
  • Front and rear collision warning with mitigation support
  • Hill descent control
  • Front and rear park assist
  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Autonomous emergency braking
  • Volvo pilot

They really don’t come much safer than Volvos.

The verdict

The XC40 and XC40 recharge plug-in hybrid are both impressive vehicles and worth considering if you are in the market for a small SUV.

If your daily commute is less than 40kms, the PHEV looks like a good option. With that being said, it is worth doing the sums and consider if the emission-free driving is worth the $8,000 premium you’ll pay.

Whichever one you pick, you’ll be left satisfied.

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