Volvo XC40 T5

Recharge Inscription

Pro

Volvo XC40 Recharge plug-in hybrid, front
Volvo XC40 Recharge plug-in hybrid, dynamic
Volvo XC40 Recharge plug-in hybrid, rear
Volvo XC40 Recharge plug-in hybrid, dashboard
Volvo XC40 Recharge plug-in hybrid, boot
Volvo XC40 Recharge plug-in hybrid, charging

SAFETY and ecology are laudably two of Volvo's main driving forces.

Top speed has been pegged at 112mph across the range and diesel power is now a thing of the past.

Electric is the power to be reckoned with and it's up to the buyer to decide whether to plug in, or not.

The hugely popular XC40 small SUV is the latest model to be treated to electrification. With low emission levels and a driving range of about 27 miles in pure electric form, the XC40 Recharge T5 holds obvious appeal to company buyers who keep a sharp eye on Benefit in Kind tax.

It's not the cheapest compact SUV by any means but it manages to blend a quality and compactness that's increasingly attractive.

At the heart of the T5 Recharge is 1.5-litre, three cylinder, turbocharged petrol engine linked to electric motors which gives in a lusty 252bhp - quite some grunt for a small package.

Not surprisingly, it gets off mark pretty smartly with a dash to 62mph in just seven seconds and loads of torque for relaxed high speed trips. But acceleration is just a small part of the XC's repertoire.

It's real forte is its relaxed gait and refinement, and its stylish cabin which offers a genuine option for those who want a change from the established German prestige marques that have ruled the roost for years.

Most owners will delight in the fascia with its portrait type nine-inch infotainment screen, soft touch, tactile plastic mouldings and dashes of bright colour. The overall effect is classy and stylish.

The Inscription Pro version, driven here, also gets leather upholstery and wood trim. A mirror image, in fact, of its bigger, more expensive brothers, the XC60 and XC90. You also get heated seats, surround sound, panoramic glass sunroof and 360 degree parking camera.

Front seats are particularly comfortable having been designed with the help of back-pain specialists. Thos e in the rear also offer good support although legroom is more restricted.

Considering the compact dimension, the boot is large enough and well-shaped. There's also a luggage divider which is particularly useful on supermarket trips.

There's some body-lean if cornered hard, but to offset that, the ride is compliant and comfortable over all but the worst surfaces.

The model reviewed here is two-wheel drive so cross-country excursions are out of bounds. Decent ground clearance and the supple suspension, however, allow rural tracks to be traversed in unflustered fashion.

What it lacks in sporty manners it more than makes up for in relaxed comfort over indifferent roads and city routes.

Most of us have learned not to be fooled by over-ambitious economy claims of plug-in hybrids and the Volvo is no exception. So don't expect to approach the official 134.5mpg figure - our real world average was a somewhat mundane 36mpg over a 600-mile North to South journey.

FAST FACTS

Volvo XC40 T5 Recharge Inscription Pro

Price: £47,480

Mechanical: 1477cc, 262bhp, 3 cyl, turbo petrol engine driving twp wheels via automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 112mph

0-62mph: 7.3sec

Combined MPG: 134.5

Insurance Group: 32

C02 emissions: 47g/km

Bik rating: 8%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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