Fleet World Fleet: Volvo XC40 T5 Twin Engine R-Design Pro
Volvo’s smallest SUV, the XC40, has a growing electrified range, including the T5 Twin Engine. Martyn Collins recounts his first month with the plug-in hybrid.
Volvo’s electrification plans are rapidly gathering speed as it phases out cars powered only by an internal combustion engine and pushes ahead with plans to generate 50% of all sales from fully electric cars by 2025.
The XC40 compact SUV plays a big role in this, having gained its first plug-in hybrid a year ago, shortly followed by the launch of ‘Recharge’ branding for all its fully electric and PHEV models. It’s since announced the T5 PHEV is being joined by a lower-power and cost T4 unit, ahead of the early 2021 arrival of the fully electric XC40. And it’s phased out diesel models in the range.
For me, the T5 marks my first experience of living with a plug-in hybrid car long-term and although I don’t currently have a proper home charging point (a long-awaited house move is imminent), the XC40 has proved easy to charge, via the three-pin plug in my garage. I’m roughly getting 20 miles electric range to each charge (not bad compared to the official 24), which is proving useful during the car’s mostly urban workout. The biggest downside is it takes up to six hours for a full charge; fast-charging cuts this to 2.5 hours.
Charging aside, the XC40 still looks like a conventional Volvo but perhaps more youthful and striking – especially in the optional (£850) Bursting Blue Metallic paint I chose.
Inside, the XC40 doesn’t feel much smaller than the XC60. In fact, rear legroom and headroom is excellent. The battery is stored under the floor of the cabin, ensuring the 452-litre boot on conventional models is retained. I love the premium feel, although the quality isn’t as good as I expected.
On the road, my ‘new normal’ certainly drives differently. Starting in electric, the 258hp T5 is refined, although doesn’t feel that quick. There are three modes, but I’ve spent most off my time in ‘Hybrid’, which means mostly electric power, either until it runs out or you’re at motorway speeds, when the 180hp, three-cylinder, 1.5-litre turbo engine almost seamlessly cuts in. It is not all good news though, as in drive mode, I find the brakes snatchy and hard to modulate. In fact, I prefer the brake feel in regenerative ‘B’ mode, although the amount of regen can’t be adjusted, which is a shame.
Brake issues aside, I’m really enjoying living with this XC40; I’m certainly looking forward to learning more about how to get the best out of its PHEV drivetrain.
P11d (BiK): £42,230 (12%) MPG/CO2 (WLTP): 128.4mpg/49g/km Test MPG: 37mpg