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The Volvo XC40 plug-in hybrid is an excellent commuter for those looking for a little more go in their premium hybrid crossover.

16 Mar 2021

With 402bhp on tap and price tags to match, Volvo's recent plug-in hybrids (read about them here, here, and here) can hardly be considered amongst the sort of sensible machinery one looks for when going green.

Thankfully, this latest XC40 plug-in hybrid ditches the absurd power outputs of its larger cousins for something far more down-to-earth.

Rare Earth

19-inch rims and that chrome grille with vertical slats are part of the Inscription trim, standard for the XC40 T5 Recharge
All XC40 Recharge plug-in hybrids coming to Singapore will be finished in Inscription trim, which adds nice touches like 19-inch rims, a chrome grille up front, and a Orrefors crystal gear shift knob in the cabin. Unique 'Recharge' lettering also rests on this car's C-pillar and door sills, aiding to set this car apart from its petrol-only variants.

More important, however, is what is new underneath all that sheet metal. To start, this XC40 now utilises a 177bhp turbocharged 1.5-litre three-cylinder, paired to an also-new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Supplementing this engine is an 80bhp electric motor, fed via a 10.7kWh battery.

And unlike its more powerful stablemates, all power from this drivetrain now goes completely to the front wheels.

Potential difference

Plug-in hybrid drivetrain is very responsive, and reasonably economical
Set off and the new drivetrain instantly impresses. With the battery charged and the petrol engine locked away in 'Pure' mode, that 160Nm of torque from the electric motor alone is enough to allow you to pull away from the lights with decent acceleration, although its urgency dissipates at anything above 60km/h.

Shift the car into its default 'Hybrid' mode, and things become livelier still. Response to throttle inputs now stays prompt all the way into highways speeds, with stabs at the throttle only taking a split second longer to illicit progress if the petrol engine is shut off.

A quick and light steering also pairs with the drivetrains' combined 265Nm of torque from 1,500rpm to allow you to easily cut right through city traffic without having to rev its engine out.

3.5kW maximum charging speed means you'll need approximately two-and-a-half hours to get 32km of driving with plug-in battery assistance
Should you opt to do so, however, you'll find that it actually plays a rather enjoyable bassy thrum accompanied by a fair amount of whistle from the turbocharger. If you're looking for some drama in your hybrid crossover, this car is hard to beat. Shifts from the new gearbox are also smooth and seamless, whether you're cruising along or stomping on the gas.

And should you head into twistier roads, you'll also find that ride quality is excellent, with bumps easily ironed over and body roll well resisted. And as you'd expect of a hybrid, cabin insulation and quiet levels are great, although I did notice a fair bit of tyre roar creeping through when driving over poor surfaces.

But that is a small complaint compared to the car's regenerative brakes, which will require a bit of getting used to with their squishy feel and somewhat inconsistent delivery of stopping power at low speeds.

Iron to lithium

The XC40 still looks absolutely gorgeous, even today
And while we are on the topic of regeneration, this XC40 took one hour and 15 minutes to charge to 50% capacity from dead flat via a Type 2 charger. We also promptly completely drained all that charge after just 16km of diving, all while in 'Hybrid' mode.

With the plug-in battery charged, fuel economy will hover around 29.4km/L. However, once the battery is flat, you can expect economy to fall to 12km/L.

With this XC40 T5 Recharge asking for a cool $223,000 (as of 15 March 2021), it may not yet be in the running as a truly economical commuter, but if you're on the lookout for something that still offers plenty of driving thrills and serves as eye candy to boot, this crossover strikes a happy balance.

Car Information



: -

Engine Type


3-cylinder in-line 12-valve Turbocharged

Engine Cap








425 Nm



7-speed (A) DCT

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)



Top Speed



Fuel consumption


45.5 km/L

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