Volvo announced back in 2018 that all of their models would be electrified within five years & with the introduction of the Recharged range of plug-in hybrids, they have taken their first step towards full electric motoring. The Recharge range are PHEV’s, that offer especially business customers, a tax saving alternative to a diesel Volvo & also if sensibly recharged, will offer significant fuel savings as well.
We spent a day driving a number of the Volvo Recharge models beginning with our current favourite, the pocket-rocket XC40.
There are two plug-in hybrid powertrains in the XC40 Recharge range, T4 or T5. Both use a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine in conjunction with an electric motor & battery. The T4 offers a 127bhp engine, whilst the T5 comes with 180bhp. Both offer an additional 81bhp from their electric motors.
The XC40 Recharge is offered in four trim levels: R-Design, R-Design Pro, Inscription and Inscription Pro. The cheaper Momentum trim offered with other XC40 engines is not available as a plug-in hybrid.
Every XC40 comes very well equipped with amongst others, a 9″ centre console touch screen, Volvo On Call with app, Sensus Navigation, a voice-activated control system, Sensus Connect, City Safety, which includes pedestrian, cyclist & large animal detection, front collision warning with fully automatic emergency braking, Oncoming Lane Mitigation, Run-off Road Protection, LED headlights with active high beam, two-zone climate control with CleanZone air-quality system, rear parking sensors, hill-start assist, cruise control with speed limiter & a 12.3″ active TFT crystal driver’s information display.
The infotainment screen & Volvo Sensus system are, despite their quality, starting to feel a little dated, especially when put up against the latest tech from the likes of Audi & Mercedes-Benz. The dashboard features cute Volvo air vents, which are narrower & sharper looking than those found on the XC60 & XC90. It’s al top quality kit & a lovely cabin to spend time in at any time of the year. The cabin itself comes with a plethora of clever touches that make this a truly practical family car.
Cavernous door pockets offer extra storage space, thanks to Volvo placing the speakers on the dash rather than on the doors. There’s a folding hook integrated into the glove box to hang your take away on, a removable compartment between the front seats that doubles as a bin, large enough to fit a tissue box into, as well as the option of a wireless phone charger at the base of the centre console, all show that Volvo has been thinking about what customers want in their small Crossover. Front seat passengers have great all round space. In the rear headroom is a little tight, but legroom in the rear is good too.
For those who require a practical boot, the 460-litre’s available in the XC40 Recharge, even with the batteries on board, offers the same space as the petrol or diesel XC40. With the rear seats folded down this increases to 1,336 litres. It also comes with a useful flat floor & the bonus of having no lip at the front edge, making loading & unloading easier.
We got to drive the T5 Recharge & the first thing you notice is that it’s quick. There are four driving modes to choose from. Power mode combines both the petrol engine & the battery, encouraging the fun factor with straight-line speed & plenty of motorway overtaking capability. In Power mode, 0-62mph takes just 7.3 seconds. Hybrid mode shuffles automatically between petrol & electric power as it sees fit & is the most likely daily choice. Pure mode engages pure-electric drive & you can tailor your own in Individual.
Thanks to it’s batteries & extra tech, the XC40 hybrid weighs 1,800kg, a full 150kg more than the petrol version. This extra weight means that the Recharge’s ride quality is a little bit lumpy & it sways more in & out of corners more than it’s petrol brethren.
You’ll drive mostly in Hybrid mode, when the plug-in hybrid system automatically selects the right power source at the right time. We drove the T5 along the A3 & it’s quiet & refined at motorway speeds. On country lanes & in town, it’s a comfortable place to be, only getting louder when you put your foot down & where the the three-cylinder engine growls into life at the top of its rev range. The Recharge also features regenerative braking, useful in slow moving or urban traffic stop-starts & a way of saving your battery charge.
The XC40 is also offered with a D3 150 diesel engine & a B4 197hp or a B5 250hp petrol version, with a full electric version due in 2022. For company car drivers, the T4 & T5 Recharge engines, offer significant tax savings over these, with the T4 starting at just 12% for tax year 2020/21. Both offer CO2 emissions of 47-55g/km depending on specification & both return a claimed 118mpg to 135mpg fuel economy.
The only way you’ll get anywhere near that kind of economy, is if you plug-in daily, as these official figures rely heavily on customers driving with a fully charged battery. On the plus side, if you only drive 20 miles a day, you may well only ever need the electric range, saving at the pumps. In reality, undertake any motorway journey & you’ll see your average economy drop to around 32mpg, so please plug-in when you can.
To plug in, both the T4 & T5 Recharge, come with a seven-metre, three-pin cable as standard with Volvo claiming a three-hour charge time for the battery, using the optional £50 Type 2 cable, an absolute must buy in our book !
Cost wise, the XC40 range is available from £25,420 for a T2 Momentum Core, with the T5 Recharge PHEV R-Design Pro we drove, setting you back £42,430, which is no small potatoes. Better to seek out the best company car leasing deals & remember that BIK saving you’ll get if you choose a Recharge version. You’ll pay from just £78 a month at 12% BIK for a T5 R-Design Pro, with the T2 Momentum costing from £141 a month, with 34% BIK.
The XC40 Recharge feels to us, more of a stepping stone to the full-electric XC40 that’s due in 2022. For fleet customers, it offers excellent tax savings & if plugged in regularly, will save on your fuel bill too. We love it’s small proportions & it’s great fun to drive as well. It’s also very well made & it offers some clever Scandi design touches throughout, making a very practical & desirable car indeed.