2021 Volvo XC40 R-Design PHEV: Car Review

This Car Review Is About: Volvo’s SUV entry into the hybrid world and specifically the Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle world. The R-Spec sits at the top of the mid-range for the XC40 and looks an ideal way to get the Swedish brand into the market for hybrid SUVs.

How Much Does It Cost?: Volvo provided, as always, an extensive information sheet. The manufacturer’s list price is $64,990. As tested, the vehicle supplied was $69,760. Metallic paint is a premium price here and double the asking cost of nearly everyone else in the segment at $1,150. A powered folding rear seat headrest and cargo protection net is $230. A Climate Pack which consists of heated wipers, heated front seats, and heated tiller is $700. A big tech item is the 360 degree camera is $990, with tinted rear windows at $700. For the heated rear seat that’s $350 with Park Assist Pilot at $650.What’s Under The Bonnet?: A combination of a three cylinder 1.5L petrol motor and battery powered engine. The petrol motor is 1.5L in capacity, and generates 132kW of peak power and 265Nm of peak torque. This is backed up by the 60kW and 160Nm from the electric motor. Consumption is quoted as 2.2L/100km for the combined cycle and that is eminently achievable. We saw nothing worse than 4.6L/100km, meaning a theoretical range of around 1,000km. It also reduces emissions, with 50g/km the quoted figure. Tank size is 48.0L. 0-100kph time is quoted as 7.3 seconds and a top speed of 205kph.On the Outside It’s: Unchanged from the “normal XC40” bar the addition of a port fitted for the battery pack on the left forward flank. To see our original review, click here for more.

On The Inside It’s: Also largely the same. The virtual dash has the addition of Hybrid in the right hand dial, and the main touchscreen, which swipes left or right for submenus, now has the addition of a “Charge” tab, to engage the engine whilst driving to add charge to the battery pack. A zipper bag is included that houses the charge cable. A simple clip ensures the bag stays in place whilst driving. The airvents have a whiff of 1950s elegance and an alloy trim plate brings class to the dash ahead of the passenger. The cargo area is of a very good size but has a flat floor, losing the more effective folding floor that opened to storage pockets underneath.On The Road It’s: An interesting drive. In our experience, hybrids start off quietly, get to around 20kph, and then, regardless if a EV Mode is selected, overrides that and kicks in the petrol engine. Here it’s the opposite, with silent electric driving UNLESS the accelerator is mashed to the floor. The three cylinder engine is isolated to the point of invisibility aurally, and is so well integrated in the drivetrain that any physical sensation is virtually free of being felt.Range on battery alone is estimated at 40 kilometres, and the dash display shows this along with the consumption. There is a regenerative change that collects kinetic energy and feeds it back to the battery. And when engaging the petrol engine to recharge that battery it’s that same seamless switch from a silky smooth electric run to a barely perceptible thrum from the three cylinder. However, it’s a two mode system and cannot be adjusted. There are drive modes, one of which is Pure. This locks the drive into only battery powered motion and when the battery runs dry, automatically switches to petrol power. Power mode hitches both electric and petrol to the drivetrain, and emulates the heavy right foot drive style needed when that just right break in the traffic comes along.It’s an ideal cruiser too, with the combined torque propelling the 1,760kg XC40 along the freeways and highways effortlessly. It’s a serene experience, with only hints of tyre and noise getting through to the cabin. That’s an impressive feat considering the 245/45/20 Pirelli P-Zero rubber. With such a sizeable footprint, more noise would be reasonably expected. They also provide, not unexpectedly, more than ample grip, with cornering a confidence-building event and with virtually zero body roll from the MacPherson strut/multi-link rear. The ride is perfect, with compliance and a sporty tautness exactly where they should be. The same applies to the steering; it’s light but not overly so. There is weight when needed but nor is it excessive or applied at the wrong time.

Braking is the area that needs work; that beautifully tactile feel has changed to a grabby and non-intuitive bite. There’s a lack now of gentle and smooth progression, it’s now a situation where it’s semi-soft before grabbing the discs and lurching the XC40 to a halt. It’s more than a niggle especially at traffic lights and stop signs where there may be a vehicle ahead, and that lurch is enough to raise the eyebrows and push the pedal harder to avoid contact.

What About Safety?: Plenty, of course. It’s what Volvo is built on. Here’s the list: City Safety: Pedestrian, Vehicle, Large Animals and Cyclist Detection, Intersection Collision and Oncoming Mitigation with Brake Support; Steering Support; Intellisafe Assist: Driver Alert; Lane Keeping Aid; Adjustable Speed Limiter function; Oncoming Lane Mitigation; Intellisafe Surround: Blind Spot Information (BLIS) with Cross TrafficAlert (CTA), Front and Rear Collision Warning with mitigation support; and Run-off road Mitigation. Hill start assist; Hill Descent Control; Park-assist Front and Rear; Rain Sensor; Drive mode with personal powersteering settings; Emergency Brake Assist (EBA); Emergency BrakeLight (EBL); Frontal Airbags, Side Impact Protection System (SIPS)with airbags in front seats, Inflatable Curtains and Whiplash ProtectionSystem; Driver’s knee airbag; Belt Reminder all seats; ISO-FIX outerposition rear seat; Intelligent Driver Information System (IDIS) complete what is an obviously extensive list.What About Warranty And Service?: Five years and unlimited kilometres. The battery has an eight year warranty excluding expected efficiency losses. Volvo has a three year capped price service plan and for the XC40 it’s $1,595.

At The End Of the Drive. Hybrid technology for the automotive world is increasingly seen as a better option than purely electric and hydrogen. The bigger the charge from the battery the more assistance it provides to the petrol engine, and the better the range. And then the range anxiety that still worries people with a purely battery only vehicle is largely alleviated, and petrol running costs are reduced significantly.

In XC40 R-Design form, hybrid tech provides an ideal opportunity to sample it and in a car that is an award winning vehicle. There is plenty to like here, and it’s a car worthy of investigating to place in the driveway. Here is some information from Volvo.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.