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Test drive: LLM motoring editor Lisa Curtiss reviews the Volvo XC40 Recharge

By Lisa Curtiss  |  August 1, 2021
Volvo XC40 Recharge

Stylish, spacious, practical and great to drive, not many cars tick all these boxes, but Volvo’s excellent XC40 can – and add class-leading eco creds and safety too. It’s no surprise this highly acclaimed model has won a cabinet full of trophies, including the ‘What Car? Family SUV of the Year’ title – for the third time, and ‘Car of the Year’ on its award debut in 2018.

The XC40 premium compact SUV continues to set the standards in its class. It’s just so easy and great to live with. As the What Car? Judges said: ‘It might be a few years since we voted the multi-talented Volvo XC40 our Car of the Year, but it still cuts the mustard. It blends generous passenger space and a practical boot with a quality interior and top-notch safety, so you aren’t only buying a hugely desirable product, but one backed up with real substance.’

Volvo XC40 Recharge

Today, the XC40 range exemplifies Volvo’s far-reaching commitment to electrification, with a line-up featuring two Recharge petrol-electric plug-in hybrid versions (the T4 and T5) and two mild-hybrid petrol powertrains (the B4 and B5). Anticipation is also high for the first UK customer deliveries of the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric P8, Volvo’s first fully electric car.

Enjoying our Recharge FWD Inscription for even just a couple of weeks you can really understand why the XC40 has been so well received by motoring experts and the public alike. A handsome car, it’s a just-right combination of muscularity and fluid lines and clearly a car of quality and class. Smaller than its also excellent XC60 and XC90 siblings, but it’s still remarkably spacious even when fully occupied front and rear. Slip inside and you’ll see that, as with all Volvo cabins, the clean, functional and fuss-free design means knee and elbow room isn’t compromised and there’s a great choice of Scandi-chic tasteful interior trims in eye-pleasing light neutral tones.

Volvo XC40 Recharge

The XC40 is a masterclass in ergonomics and functional design, but this certainly doesn’t mean it’s lean on tech and features. Even as standard, all variants of this model feature a crystal-clear nine-inch centre-console touchscreen with voice-activated control, Volvo On Call with app, Sensus Navigation and Sensus Connect, Data SIM card providing up to 100GB of data for 12 months, eight-speaker sound system with three USB sockets and a host of advanced safety tech.

Highlights include pedestrian, cyclist and large-animal detection, front-collision warning with fully automatic emergency braking, steering assistance if you unwittingly drift out of your lane and even a system which automatically tightens the front seatbelts should the car inadvertently leave the road.

Our Inscription-spec model also came fitted with handy wireless phone charging, a heated steering-wheel and windscreen, dark-tinted windows, heated seats front and rear, a 360° view parking camera, panoramic sunroof, excellent Harman Kardon Dolby Pro Logic II surround-sound system and more.

Volvo XC40 Recharge

Both XC40 T4 and T5 FWD Recharge Plug-in Hybrids tip the scales at a minimum of 1,812kg (running order weight). However, they are swift, agile and engaging to drive. The T5 produces 180hp and 265Nm of torque, delivering the 0-60 sprint in 8.2 seconds from its 1.5-litre petrol engine, along with 82hp and 160Nm from its electric motor. Its maximum-braked trailer-towing capacity is 1,800kg.

The efficiency of its petrol-electric powertrain results in official WLTP Combined fuel economy of 117.7-134.5mpg, while CO2 emissions are 47-55g/km, together with an all-electric driving range of up to 27.3 miles (according to battery charge, vehicle load and driving conditions).

Whether for daily commuting, acting as a family run-around, or even to carry golf clubs or tow ponies to shows, the XC40 is a perfect choice.