WITH an array of global awards sitting in its trophy cabinet, it will come as little surprise that Volvo has added a new model to its highly-successful XC40 SUV line-up.
The introduction of the Recharge Plug-in Hybrid T5, which isn't the snappiest of titles, means the Swedish car maker is the only manufacturer to offer plug-in hybrid versions across its entire product range.
It is also the first plug-in hybrid car in the premium compact SUV sector.
The technology brings together a 1.5-litre three-cylinder 180hp petrol engine and an 82hp electric motor and all this power is channelled to the front wheels via an all-new twin clutch seven-speed automatic gearbox.
The car, which has a real road presence thanks to its muscular design, can be driven up to 28 miles in electric-only mode, although in real life testing we were seeing slightly less at around 22 or 23 miles.
But the official WLTP figures for the car are impressive with carbon emissions from just 47g/km and combined fuel efficiency of up to 139.4mpg. This fuel economy would only be achieved if the car's electric charge was utilised to the max.
When it comes to charging the XC40, it's very straight forward and can be completed via a standard three-pin plug or fast charge cable - the latter option will see the car's battery fully charged in just two and a half hours. It takes an hour longer if using the three-pin plug.
With prices starting from £40,905 and rising to £42,305, customers can select from four well-equipped trim levels called R-Design, R-Design Pro, Inscription and Inscription Pro with the R-Design models offering more sporty characteristics and the Inscription cars featuring more elegant styling and comfort.
We tried the R-Design Pro model costing £42,305, increased to £47,605 with a number of packs and optional extras fitted. This car could complete the 0-62mph sprint in a very respectable 7.3 seconds and topped out at 127mph.
Viewed from any angle, this XC40 looks imposing with its contrast-colour roof, front skid plate, neat alloy wheels, LED headlights with T-shaped daytime running lights, sculpted doors and distinctive tail lights.
Comfort levels are sublime with a wealth of on-board technology at your disposal. The car features Volvo's nine-inch upright Sensus touchscreen which is simple to operate on the move and offers access to the many systems.
Features include a pitch perfect Harman Kardon sound system, full smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, heated seats, a heated steering wheel, navigation and much, much more.
The seats offer full power adjustment and the car looks and feels very premium in its design with soft-touch surfaces and high quality leather/Nubuck materials throughout. That said, the Lava Orange carpet, door inserts, mats and tunnel covering on our car was beginning to over-dazzle after some time. This may be a £175 option to think carefully about before ticking the box.
Comfort levels are excellent and light floods into the cabin through the tilt and slide panoramic sunroof.
Volvo has been very clever with the design of this latest hybrid model by positioning the high-voltage battery between the front seats so it doesn't impact on interior space at all.
So, back seat passengers have bundles of leg, head and elbow space and the storage options throughout the car impress too with a boot capacity that ranges from 460 litres to 1,336 litres with the rear seats dropped down - this is the same as any other XC40 model.
So the new arrival looks the business and features all the first class creature comforts we have come to expect from Volvo, but how does it handle when put to the test? The answer is very well indeed.
Out on the open road it accelerates effortlessly through the gears and cruises with ease at national speed limits.
The road holding is ultra-grippy and the steering is also nicely weighted with ample driver feedback. You can switch through various drive modes called Hybrid, Individual, Power, Pure and Off Road that alter the way the car reacts.
Power certainly proved the most fun when driving through faster country lanes and the sharp bursts of acceleration help make light work of overtaking slower moving farm traffic.
The car is nicely insulated against most road surface, engine and wind noise, but when pushed on the three-pot engine lets out quite a raspy note which actually adds further to its appeal.
The all-round visibility is good thanks to the elevated driving position and the test vehicle featured a Xenium pack costing £1,600 which, amongst other features, introduced automatic parallel and 90-degree parking.
When driving, it is possible to save the EV charge for when it may be required and also the high voltage battery is recharged when you press the brake pedal or when coasting.
There is a ‘B' setting for the gearbox and in this mode, the electric motor is activated to brake the car when you take your foot off the accelerator and this also charges the battery.
As one would expect from a company renowned for its safety record, the XC40 is packed with technology and driver assist aids to help keep occupants and pedestrians as safe as possible. The XC40 was awarded the maximum five stars when tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating.
All in all, this latest XC40 is another outstanding addition to the company's portfolio. It looks impressive, is packed with technology and delivers on the performance front too, making it quite the all-rounder. And those low emissions will result in plenty of tax benefits too.