Volvo XC40 review

Category: Family SUV

Section: Performance & drive

Available fuel types:hybrid, electric, petrol
Available colours:
Volvo XC40 2020 RHD dashboard
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RRP from£25,420

Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

Our pick of the engines is the 1.5-litre T3 petrol. This has a respectable 161bhp and, particularly when combined with the optional automatic gearbox, delivers enough performance to suit most SUV buyers' desires. The B4 and B5 are usefully quicker but are much more expensive to run (as we’ll come on to explain later). 

The plug-in hybrid (PHEV) Recharge T5 is actually faster than all of the regular petrols bar the B5; in our tests, it managed the 0-60mph sprint in a very respectable 7.1sec. However, with a full battery charge, it managed just 21 miles of pure electric driving, whereas the cheaper Ford Kuga PHEV can keep going for 31 miles. When running solely on electric power, the XC40 is powerful enough to keep up with traffic, although acceleration does tail off noticeably as you approach motorway speeds.

We haven't yet tried the fully electric Recharge P8 but, on paper, this should be the quickest version of the XC40, capable of hitting 60mph from a standstill in just 4.7sec.

Suspension and ride comfort

The regular petrol versions of the XC40 are more comfortable than any of their chief rivals, including the firm-riding BMW X1 and the unsettled Jaguar E-Pace. The XC40 even betters relatively comfortable alternatives, such as the Range Rover Evoque and Volkswagen Tiguan.

What’s so good about it? Well, on faster roads, all but the plug-in hybrid versions of the XC40 breeze over ripples and expansion joints and also manage to take the sting out of razor-edged potholes around town – even on the whopping 20in alloy wheels that come as standard with the more expensive trim levels.

Curiously, the XC40 rides most adeptly on 'sports' suspension, which is fitted as standard to R-Design versions. The softer 'dynamic' suspension on other trims is still comfy but doesn't keep the car's body as well controlled over speed humps and crests. Unfortunately, the plug-in hybrid Recharge models are far less forgiving along pockmarked roads due to the extra stress placed on the suspension by that heavy battery.

Handling

While the XC40’s body does lean a fair bit through corners and its steering isn’t particularly feelsome, drive it in a relaxed manner – as most people will – and it handles perfectly adequately. 

R-Design models are slightly more composed than the other versions, thanks to that sports suspension we mentioned above, although the difference isn't huge. The plug-in hybrid versions feel the most wallowy through bends, but since no XC40 is exactly a riot on a country road, you don't feel like you’re missing out. 

In short, the XC40 is easy to drive but not much fun. If that's a deal-breaker for you, consider the BMW X2 or a Seat Ateca, or a Ford Kuga if you want a plug-in SUV with a bit of cornering verve.

Noise and vibration

Our favourite engine, the T3, is relatively hushed at low revs, apart from a few whooshes and whistles from the turbocharger. It starts to sound quite thrummy when you rev it harder, but you don't feel much vibration through the controls. The more powerful B4 and B5 engines are even smoother and quieter.

The plug-in hybrid Recharge T5 is relatively quiet in pure electric mode, although you do hear more whine from the electric motor than in some rivals, such as the Ford Kuga PHEV. You certainly notice when the petrol engine fires up to help out, but it's never uncouth.

Whichever engine you choose, there's only some mild wind buffeting around the windscreen at motorway speeds. Sadly, there is quite a lot of road noise, particularly when big 20in alloy wheels are fitted – the Evoque is notably more subdued in this respect. Still, the XC40 is nowhere near as raucous as the X1 along a typical stretch of motorway. 

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