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Volvo XC40 2020 review: Recharge Plug-in Hybrid

Stylish and sophisticated - inside and out - the Volvo XC40 hybrid is a stunner on the road.

Wouldn't it be grand if more cars started offering a hybrid or electric motor? Clearly Volvo Australia thinks so, it now has a plug-in hybrid offering on each of its SUVs. This week I test drove the new 2020 Volvo XC40 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid, which is the brand's most eco-friendly compact SUV. It combines petrol and electric power in this top of the range model. 

It costs $64,990 before on road costs and extras, which puts it in competition with cars like the BMW X2 and Audi’s Q3. BMW has just launched a hybrid version of the X2 but it hasn’t hit Australia yet, and it’s the same story for the Q3. So Volvo’s forward thinking has really put it ahead instantly for me.

Here’s how the XC40 hybrid did for this week’s family review.

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✅ How does it drive?

Let’s talk how it drives because that’s what everyone’s curious about, and to be honest it’s dreamy. It’s silent when it’s running on electric, which is one of my favourite things about it, and it’s quick off the mark - again, thanks to its electric motor, which makes it super agile in traffic and also has good power at high speeds so it drives really well along highways - it uses its petrol engine for that. 

It will run on battery for the first 45 kilometres or at low speeds, and then it turns over into the 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine for high speeds or when you have travelled more than 45km. 

This model is an AWD which means it has better traction on wet and unstable road surfaces. This model is an AWD which means it has better traction on wet and unstable road surfaces.

The battery for me lasted approximately one hour of driving time. So if you are cruising the suburbs going from work to home or school drop off, you will have enough power to run without petrol before needing to plug in again. If you have to go further - say, from one end of Sydney to the other, the petrol engine will kick in. Same if you’re on a long road trip. I do wish the battery was a little bigger and could house more energy because it doesn’t last very long, but I’m sure that kind of thing is what we’ll see in coming years. 

You will need to charge the XC40 every night without fail if you want to keep driving on the battery. It plugs in easily to a regular powerpoint and takes approximately four hours to fully recharge. The official combined cycle fuel consumption is a tiny 2.2L/100km, but I drove it on electric charge all week. 

The XC40 has good power at high speeds so it drives really well along highways. The XC40 has good power at high speeds so it drives really well along highways.

I think a plug-in hybrid is an ideal introduction to a full-electric car, as that’s often where people hesitate - what am I going to do on a long road trip if it takes so long to charge? And the way this car works really takes care of that. 

This model is an AWD which means it has better traction on wet and unstable road surfaces. The steering is nice and even and not heavy at all to turn which makes parking easy. The size also helps, as does the high-resolution reverse parking camera. There’s also a 360-degree camera which costs an extra $990 but it does show where the car is compared with everything around it and makes it practically scrape-proof.

The car turns over into the 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine for high speeds or when you have travelled more than 45km.  The car turns over into the 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine for high speeds or when you have travelled more than 45km. 

✅ How does it look?

The exterior of the XC40 looks very smart. It’s clean and simple with no fancy features but all of the sleek sophistication we’ve come to appreciate from Volvo. The subtlety speaks volumes. 

Inside the car it’s the same deal, with plush leather seats that have a Nappa leather trim and a Nubuck leather middle. There are aluminium inlays and brushed metal pedals. The steering wheel looks and feels good with more brushed metal detail. It’s quite luxe and the whole thing makes you feel fabulous while driving. 

The exterior of the XC40 looks very smart. The exterior of the XC40 looks very smart.

There’s a giant sunroof that extends all the way to the back of the back row which is a part of the Lifestyle Pack (extra $3000) and that also gives you tinted windows.

✅ How easy is it to use every day?

Both front seats are power operated and both rows are heated in this particular car which is fitted with the Comfort Pack ($900), and they’re very comfortable. The tailgate is power operated and the park brake turns off and on automatically, you don’t even need to think about it. 

Both front seats are power operated and both rows are heated. Both front seats are power operated and both rows are heated.

You’ll get two cupholders in the front, a spot for keys and a phone that also houses a Qi wireless phone charger and most excitingly you can charge with the phone cover on these days. There’s a centre storage shelf and bottle holders in the doors. 

Rear passengers get two cupholders in the centre armrest and you’ll find directional air vents plus pockets on the back of the front seats and bottle holders in the doors.

✅ How spacious is it?

The Volvo XC40 car feels spacious for a compact SUV. The taller members of my family have plenty of leg and head space in the front, and it also gives a good amount of room for shoulders between the front passengers. 

The rear fits my two children easily, they’re aged six and eight. They will happily hop in and can do their seat belts up which is always a good thing. At 161cm I’ve got loads of space and it looks like there’s enough room for taller people, going off the amount of space between my knees and the seat in front. 

The Volvo XC40 car feels spacious for a compact SUV. The Volvo XC40 car feels spacious for a compact SUV.

While it’s wide for a small SUV, I wouldn’t squash a third child seat in the back on a daily basis. Doing kids’ seatbelts up would be hard work. In desperate situations, you can most likely make a third seat fit but it’s not really built for that. 

The boot is a good size for families though it’s not the biggest in the category. At 460 litres it’s smaller than both the X2 (470L) and the Q3 (530L), but it was enough for this week with my family of four. It will fit the bulky CarsGuide pram or suitcases, with enough room for groceries and school bags.

  • The boot is a good size for families though it’s not the biggest in the category. The boot is a good size for families though it’s not the biggest in the category.
  • At 460 litres it’s smaller than both the X2 and the Q3. At 460 litres it’s smaller than both the X2 and the Q3.

✅ How safe is it?

There’s a complete safety system in the XC40 across all models. It has auto emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian, cyclist and large animal detection. Other safety includes blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and lane keeping aids. 

There’s a complete safety system in the XC40 across all models. There’s a complete safety system in the XC40 across all models.

You’ll get front and side airbags for driver and front passenger, plus side curtain airbags that extend to the back row. There are also two ISOFIX points and three top tether points to fix car seats in. The XC40 AWD models scored a full five ANCAP stars when it was tested in 2018.

✅ What’s the tech like?

I really appreciate the vertical/portrait screens that Volvo uses, it not only sets the whole interior apart from rivals but it makes sense because we’re so used to orienting our phones and tablets that way. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto basically make this screen a giant phone and once you get used to swiping left and right for different menus for settings, which I now am on my third Volvo drive, it’s very easy to use. 

This model was fitted with Harmon/Kardon speakers as a part of the Lifestyle pack, so don’t waste those - turn the sound up.

✅ How much does it cost to own?

The Volvo XC40 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid costs $64,990 before on-road costs and extras. The extras on this model were the Comfort Pack ($900), the Lifestyle Pack ($3000) the Metallic Paint ($1150), the 360 Camera ($990), and power folding rear headrests ($200), taking the total to $71,230 before on-roads. 

The Volvo XC40 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid costs $64,990 before on-road costs and extras. The Volvo XC40 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid costs $64,990 before on-road costs and extras.

It's covered by Volvo's three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, and servicing is required every 12 months or 15,000kms.


The Wrap

I really enjoyed driving the Volvo XC-40 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid this week and think it’s a fab introduction to an electric motor. You can travel close to home petrol-free as long as you plug in every night and still have a petrol engine when you need it for road trips. 

There’s enough space for a family of four, it looks stylish and has the latest in safety and technology. 

I gave it a family rating of 8.6 out of 10, my kids gave it the same. They loved it as soon as I told them about the electric motor.

Likes

Exterior and interior design
Hybrid motor
Comprehensive safety

Dislikes

Battery could last longer

Scores

Nedahl:

4.3

The Kids:

4.3