Volvo XC40 Recharge hybrid review

The XC40 Recharge brings plug-in technology to the smallest Volvo, but it may be worth waiting for the fully electric version

£39,130 - £42,430
Plug-in hybrid

Pros

  • Good performance
  • Useful electric range
  • Free electricity offer

Cons

  • No four-wheel-drive option
  • Interior quality lacking in places
  • Infotainment beginning to date
Car type Electric range Fuel economy CO2 emissions
Plug-in hybrid 26-27 miles 119-135mpg 47-55g/km

Plug-in hybrid technology was initially reserved for Volvo’s larger models and had been conspicuously absent from one of its most popular offerings, the XC40 SUV. That all changed with the XC40 Recharge T5 – the first plug-in hybrid Volvo to use the Recharge name – followed in August 2020 by the slightly less powerful Recharge T4.

Both are important steps in the Swedish manufacturer’s plan to electrify its entire range. The electrified XC40 also represents something of a final piece in Volvo’s PHEV puzzle, as every one of the brand's models is now available with a plug-in hybrid drivetrain.

An all-electric XC40 Recharge P8 will arrive towards the end of 2020 (with a claimed 240-mile range), but for now there are two plug-in hybrid variants available. Both the Recharge T4 and Recharge T5 pair a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine with a 10.7kWh battery and an electric motor, with power going to the front wheels only through Volvo’s familiar seven-speed automatic transmission. The T4 uses a 127bhp engine, while the T5 gets 180bhp; each is paired with the same 81bhp electric motor for total outputs of 211 and 261bhp respectively.

The XC40 Recharge uses its new powertrain to good effect – the car was always intended to carry the technology and so everything feels well sorted. It's comfortable, refined and ably shuffles between power sources as required – or can glide serenely for over 20 miles on pure-electric power. It's practical, too, not losing any interior space compared to its pure-petrol equivalent. We've yet to drive the T4 variant, but it's not too far removed from the more powerful T5 mechanically.

Safety is a major concern for Volvo and the XC40 is claimed to be its safest model yet – the plug-in version benefits from extra strengthening measures to protect its batteries in a crash, while the usual array of active and passive safety and driver assistance systems are present and correct.

The XC40 Recharge T5 may look pricey at just over £40,000 (the larger Vauxhall Grandland X Hybrid is around £4,000 cheaper) but Volvo has promised to throw a year’s worth of electricity into the deal to cover Recharge customers’ use – an attractive proposition if you plan to do most of your charging at home. The Recharge T4, meanwhile, sneaks in just under the £40,000 and thus avoids the £325 road-tax surcharge in the first few years of ownership.

It's worth noting that while the XC40 was the first plug-in hybrid model in the compact premium SUV class, some worthy rivals have arrived since it launched, in the shape of the BMW X1 xDrive25e and Mercedes GLA 250 e, both of which are also worthy of your attention.

For a more detailed look at the XC40 Recharge, read on for the rest of our in-depth review...