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2020 Volvo XC40 plug-in hybrid SUV Review

Testing Volvo's impressive new XC40 hybrid

The XC40 is Volvo’s smallest SUV and now there’s a new plug-in hybrid version.


Pros: Quality, running costs, space, image, performance

Cons: Quite expensive to buy

The XC40 is Volvo’s smallest SUV and now there’s a new plug-in hybrid version, officially designated the Recharge T5 Plug-in hybrid Automatic. It uses a 1.5-litre petrol engine, a powerful electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack to provide up to 46 kilometres of emissions-free driving. That ability helps the car achieve an ultra-low CO2 emissions rating, so it’s cheap to tax, and, if you charge up the battery from an external source regularly, it’ll cost very little to run, too.

Volvo XC40 Design

The XC40 is a handsome looking SUV and, though it’s the most compact in the Volvo line-up, we reckon it’s also the most stylish. Highlights include the sharp combination of the front lights and sculpted grille, while the upswept side glass and relatively simple rear give the car a unique look. Other than badging, the only external clue to this model’s plug-in hybrid status is the extra flap on the left-hand side of the car, hiding the recharging port.

Volvo CX40 Hybrid

Volvo XC40 Interior

If you like the exterior of the XC40, then you’re going to love its cabin. Volvo hasn’t downgraded the interior style of its larger cars in rescaling it for the smaller model, so it outdoes most alternatives in the sector with its sense of quality and solidity. It gets digital instruments and an upright touchscreen for most functions of the car in the middle of the dashboard. There’s plenty of space on board for four adults and not a bad boot, either.

Volvo XC40 Interior

Volvo XC40 Performance & Drive

In its default driving mode, the XC40 hybrid starts off on electric power (assuming there is charge in the battery) and it’s wonderfully quiet, as all electric cars are. The electric motor produces over 80hp as well, so it’s not gutless. Once charge runs out, or you put your foot down for more performance, the three-cylinder petrol engine cuts in. Working together, there’s a considerable 252hp on tap, making this XC40 particularly quick when you want it to be.

For normal driving, it’s smooth and refined in operation, which is matched by the slick driving controls and general noise suppression. In general, the XC40 is quite comfortable on the road, too, though avoid larger wheels for ultimate cushiness around town.

Volvo XC40 Plug-In

Volvo XC40 Pricing

While the regular XC40 costs from €38,297, the entry-level price of the plug-in model is considerably more, at €55,200. Private buyers can knock €7,500 off that, bringing it down to €47,700. The hybrid powertrain is available in R-Design and Inscription trim levels, so it’s always very well equipped, and those that want all the bells and whistles can opt for the ‘Pro’ upgrade on either specification.

Carzone Verdict 4/5

We’re big fans of the plug-in XC40. It’s stylish to look at, inside and out, has a high-quality interior, plenty of space and a good hybrid system that mixes strong performance with the possibility of low running costs. About its only downside of note is a high purchase price.

Test Car Details:  

Model driven: Volvo XC40 T5

Price: €47,700 before options but including grants

Engine: 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol (with electric motor)

Transmission: automatic

Annual motor tax: €170

0-100km/h: 7.3 seconds

Power: 252hp

Boot space: 460 litres