Electric Car Awards 2022: Best hybrid small SUV
With electrified cars now coming in all shapes and sizes – and available to suit every budget – we’ve named the best models in every class. Here we look at the best hybrid small SUV...
Volvo XC40 Recharge T4 Plus
When Moonraker was released in 1979, many bemoaned that its ‘007 in space’ premise was a too-obvious cash-in on the success of Star Wars. “Bond should stick to being a spy, not an astronaut,” they said. Similarly, we reckon the Volvo XC40 is more convincing in this down-to-Earth plug-in hybrid guise than as a fully electric car.
In fact, we named the XC40 our 2022 Family SUV of the Year, and this Recharge T4 is our favourite version. Why’s that, then? Well, no rival can beat its sheer all-round ability at the price.
Yes, its 28-mile official battery range (we managed 21 miles in our real-world test) is beaten by the Range Rover Evoque P300, and that car earns a lower company car tax band. However, it’s also considerably more expensive than the XC40, and that’ll hit private buyers in their pockets.
The T4’s range should be more than enough for local journeys and school runs, too. And let’s not forget that it can be recharged in three hours from fully flat if you use a dedicated home wallbox. Keep it fully charged and you can pretty much treat it as an electric vehicle (EV), if short trips are the mainstay of your motoring.
But unlike an EV, you have the back-up on longer journeys of a 1.5-litre petrol engine, and that in itself is impressively economical; we managed more than 45mpg when the battery was flat.
And, on these longer trips, you get to appreciate some of the XC40’s finer qualities, from its spacious and comfortable interior to its well-finished dashboard and its extremely well thought out storage options. What’s more, the T4’s boot doesn’t lose any volume compared with that of the regular XC40; that often isn’t the case with plug-in hybrids.
Of course, the T4 isn’t immune from all plug-in hybrid foibles, such as having a slightly less controlled and supple ride than its conventionally powered sister models due to the additional weight of its battery. That said, it’s still a more comfortable cruiser than the fidgety fully electric MG ZS EV or many of its direct hybrid rivals, such as the BMW X1 sDrive25e and Cupra Formentor 1.4 eHybrid.
Its performance won’t leave you disappointed, either. It’ll turn in a 0-62mph sprint of 8.5sec, and its automatic gearbox responds quickly when you need it to.
As for spec, we’d pick mid-range Plus trim; it doesn’t cost that much more than entry-level Core, yet adds heated front and rear seats and a heated steering wheel, as well as ambient interior lighting to really give the XC40 a premium feel. It’s enough to shake up rivals and stir your fancy.
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