Our new long-term Volvo XC40 PHEV: right place, right time?

Published: 17 December 2020

► CAR lives with a PHEV XC40
► This one's in plush Inscription spec
► Snapper Alex's monthly reports

Don't panic about that price, or at least not much. So, yes, £46,940 seems a lot for a compact crossover with modest performance. But it makes sense when you look at it in the context of the whole XC40 range, which starts at a less troublesome £25,420.

If you want a mild hybrid, you can get one for £32,760. Plug-in hybrids start at £39,130 for the T4.

This car, the T5, the more powerful of the XC40 PHEVs, starts at £41,030 in R-Design spec, or £41,380 for the more wood 'n' leather Inscription. Inscription Pro spec, adding £1050, includes adaptive LED headlights, heated windscreen and electric adjustment for the passenger seat, plus this car also has a bunch of extras, adding a further £4510: the IntelliSafe Pro pack (safety features including adaptive cruise control), the Convenience pack (with hands-free boot opening), and individual options including smartphone integration, a spare wheel, metallic paint, a proper charging cable and an audio upgrade.

So some of the price is because it's a hybrid, and some because it's quite a swanky spec.

If you wanted to trim the price by lowering the spec, you might not regret it. The most basic XC40 is still pretty good, thanks to the clever design and interesting materials, although the level of standard equipment is low next to other Volvos.

If you wanted to trim the price by going for a less powerful, or less green, version, would you regret that? Or, at the other end of the scale, are you going to wish you'd gone for the new full-electric XC40 at £60k? This will, I suspect, be a subject that I return to many times in the coming months.

So far, I'm not seeing any great benefit from having an electric motor, with average fuel consumption of 33.6mpg. But then it is very early days, and it may take me some time to get into the right habits in terms of using any available charging opportunity to fill up the 8.5kWh (net) battery, which feeds an 81bhp electric motor to supplement the 177bhp petrol triple. Very little charging has gone on so far, largely because of Covid-related delays in getting a wallbox fitted at home.

All of this talk of value and the measurable benefits of a hybrid overlooks one massive element of life with the XC40: the feelgood factor is vast. Considering it's a compact crossover, a style of vehicle that usually struggles to cause even a mild tremor of interest, the XC is quite a head-turner. And aside from the vanity of enjoying those admiring glances, there is something highly agreeable about the look and feel of the cabin. That novelty may, of course, wear off, but for now it seems to be a cut above the class.

By Alex Tapley

Logbook: Volvo XC40 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid T5 Inscription Pro

Price £42,430 (£46,940 as tested)
Performance 1477cc turbocharged three-cylinder plus e-motor, PHEV, 258bhp, 7.3sec 0-62mph, 112mph
Efficiency 134.5mpg (official), 33.6mpg (tested), 47g/km CO2
Energy cost 20.0p per mile
Miles this month 765
Total miles 1360

By CAR's road test team

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