Motoring review: Volvo XC40 PHEV — unplug and play

Motoring review: The chunky and cute new Volvo was inspired by science fiction robots

Motoring review: Volvo XC40 PHEV — unplug and play

Volvo XC40 PHEV

Volvo Cars brought a new safety standard to the small premium SUV segment with the launch of the new Volvo XC40 in 2018. Being the first car to be built on Volvo’s new Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) platform, the Volvo XC40 is one of the safest cars in its segment thanks to its inheritance of safety and support technologies from the brand’s S90/V90 and XC60 models.

‘Cognitive Load’ Reduction

Modern city life presents complex challenges for drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and other road users. This is why the new Volvo XC40 was designed to reduce driver distraction and the so-called ‘cognitive load’ on the driver. With safety and driver assistance systems actively identifying and mitigating potential conflicts, the driving becomes more relaxed and enjoyable.

The Volvo XC40 successfully blends comfort and cruising refinement, allowing the occupants to enjoy the trendy, minimalist cabin and the wonderful infotainment system.

Youthful Character

Based on looks alone, the Volvo XC40 is noticeably more youthful than its larger siblings — the XC60 and XC90. Ian Kettle, the designer of the XC40, said that the inspiration for the car’s styling came from small robots that he saw in science-fiction movies.

This resulted in the application of simple, clean, resolved lines, and an appearance that manages to look chunky and cute at the same time. It’s helped by a further evolution of Volvo’s ‘Thor’s Hammer’ headlight motif at the front end.

There’s more scope for personalisation than on the XC60 and XC90 too, thanks to contrasting roof colours on some versions (black or white, depending on the trim level).

The Volvo XC40 was initially available with a choice of petrol or diesel engines, but the option of a diesel unit has been eliminated in favour of a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrain, referred to as a ‘Recharge Plug-In Hybrid’. Trim options consist of Momentum (petrol only), R-Design & R-Design Pro (petrol or PHEV) and Inscription & Inscription Pro (petrol or PHEV), with front-wheel-drive standard across the range.

Manual or automatic transmissions are available in the petrol-powered models, with the Recharge model coming with a seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission. Standard equipment across the entire range includes alloy wheels, LED headlights with ‘Thor Hammer’ LED daytime driving lights, a 12.3-inch Active TFT Crystal drivers information display, Rear Park Assist, cruise control with speed limiter, Hill Start Assist, Hill Decent Control, tyre pressure monitoring system, heated front seats, auto dimming interior and exterior mirrors, alarm system, multiple airbags, road-sign information system, Driver Alert Control with Lane Keeping Aid and many other safety, security and comfort features.

Test Car

My test car was a new Volvo XC40 Recharge PHEV Inscription Pro finished in Pebble Grey metallic paint with contrasting Arianne Leather Blonde & Charcoal seating.

The luxuriously -appointed Inscription Pro specification is based on the Momentum specification but also includes key features, such as a power-adjustable drivers seat with memory function (also includes memory for exterior mirrors), silver front and rear skid plates, power-operated tailgate, heated front seats, heated windscreen and headlight cleaning system, heated washer nozzles, active bending headlights, front LED fog lights with cornering function, front and rear park assist with a rear camera, and chrome window trim for a truly distinctive look.

The 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo-charged petrol engine works in conjunction with an electric motor (which is powered by a 10.7kWh Lithium-Ion battery) to produce 262PS (258bhp) and a hefty 425Nm of torque. As a result, a 0-100km/h sprint can be completed in just 7.3-seconds, while an electric-only range of up to 45kms is available from a full battery.

Charge

Charging the battery from empty to 100% in the XC40 Recharge can be performed in around six hours from a standard three-pin plug, while connecting a Type 2 cable to a wall box will perform the same task in around 2.5 hours.

Volvo claim fuel consumption as low as 2.1-l/100km on a combined driving cycle (when used within appropriate battery charging recommendations), while an emission figure of 47g/km leads to annual road tax of just €170.

Verdict

During my time with the new XC40 Recharge PHEV, I found it to be very sure-footed on a variety of road surfaces, while overall driving dynamics were excellent. The car handles extremely well, steers precisely and feels great from behind the multi-function steering wheel.

Strong performance from the hybrid powertrain, along with impressive levels of refinement and composure ensure that every journey in the XC40 Recharge is pleasurable. With demand for premium SUVs at an all-time high across the world, it looks like Volvo’s timing in launching the wonderful XC40 Recharge PHEV is absolutely perfect - much like the XC40 itself.

Pricing for the new Volvo XC40 Recharge PHEV range starts at €47,772 (inclusive of a €5,000 SEAI grant for private customers), while the XC40 in petrol engine guise is priced from €38,297.

Contact Finlay Motor Group on 045 432725.

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