Volvo XC40 Recharge

T5 Inscription

Volvo XC40, front action 1
Volvo XC40, front action 2
Volvo XC40, front action 3
Volvo XC40, side action
Volvo XC40, rear action
Volvo XC40, rear seats
Volvo XC40, dash detail
Volvo XC40, dashboard
Volvo XC40, boot

THE chance to drive a Bentley, with a vast and thirsty petrol engine in prospect, was the perfect way to check out what promised to be a much more economical means of transport - by Volvo.

For the journey to Bentleyland involved a 115 mile journey each way and the opportunity to try the latest of Volvo's smallest SUVs with and without the benefit of a full charged battery helping out the petrol motor.

This mix of petrol and electrical power is available in the new XC40 Recharge, which comes with a 1.5-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine and an electric motor powered by batteries stretched the along the spine of the car.

Plugged in to the mains, they recharge in six hours from a standard household plug or more than twice as quickly from a specially installed wall box -and Volvo says they're then good for up to nearly 29 miles of pure electric range.

The car showed 24 miles on a full battery when we headed off to liaise with the Bentley and it was all gone after 19 miles had rolled under the Volvo's (optionally) large 20in alloy wheels.

From then on the petrol engine mainly took over, with the electric motor helping out a little as the battery recharged gently as the car braked. Journey's end showed 55.4mpg for the whole trip.

Which is impressive going for a car as chunkily solid as the XC40. So how would it do on the return leg, with an empty battery unable to start us off with an electric boost? The answer - a nice round 53mpg. So, nearly as good as the outward leg.

Which proves that even if an owner never plugs the XC40 into the mains (shame!) the hybrid nature of the Recharge still makes every effort to keep its master's bank balance healthy.

Combining both power sources gives this version of the XC40 enough performance to qualify as thoroughly sporty and all delivered smoothly via an automatic gearbox that makes mincemeat of town treks.

Petrol engine working or not, the XC40 is always a quiet way to eat up the miles, with wind and road noise more prominent than the distant hum of an internal combustion engine - or the just audible whine when the electric motor is at work.

It's comfortable too, with only the car's big wheels and low profile tyres lending a jittery edge on our less well kept roads, suggesting the standard smaller wheels might be a better bet if magic carpets are your aim.

Arrived at the Bentley site, the Volvo refused to restart for 10 minutes - hopefully a one-off glitch.

Otherwise, it felt standard Volvo fare. Which is a good thing, bringing with it a sense of restrained Scandi style inside and out and an approach to motoring life that tries to keep things simple, even when you know there's lots going on in the background.

FAST FACTS

Volvo XC40 Recharge T5 Inscription

Price: £41,255

Mechanical: 258bhp, 1,477cc, 3cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 7-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 127mph

0-62mph: 7.3 seconds

Combined MPG: 141.2

Insurance Group: 19

C02 emissions: 38g/km

Bik rating: 16%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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