Volvo XC40 T5 Plug-in hybrid test drive

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  • #146325 Reply

    Yesterday we took out an XC40 for a test drive. We currently have a BMW X1 X-line S-drive 20i which is due back at the end of July and are looking at the Volvo T5 Recharge Inscription Pro hybrid as a possible replacement. It will be that or another X1.

    We have settled on wanting electric seats with memory, a reversing camera, tinted glass and a sunroof on whichever car we choose.

    To get a new X1 to that spec would mean adding Comfort Pack, Tech Pack, and Panoramic roof options. The Volvo would just need tinted glass and the panoramic roof added. Given the discounts available on the BMW, the combined cost of AP and extras are very similar for both cars.

    Running costs are not too much of a consideration in making a decision as our best guess given our pattern of use once MrsW starts commuting to work in September is they will be much the same, with perhaps the Volvo coming out slightly ahead. On long journeys once the battery has run down, the Volvo will be using more fuel than the BMW but for local journeys obviously very much less, if any, as we can recharge overnight.

    So, to the Volvo. The one we borrowed was a brand new R-Design with leather/nubuck seats, the only extra being a reversing camera. This was not the Pro model, so was lacking the power seats. The dealers demonstrator Inscription Pro car wasn’t available but will be hopefully on Monday, so we’ll have a try in that then and check the leather seats out and the softer suspension.

    First impressions coming from the X1 was that it was higher to get in but MrsW had no problem and she said the passenger side was more roomy, partly because the dash seemed further away or maybe that you sit higher in relation to it. Most stuff is handled by the touch screen so there’s no clutter of buttons and control knobs as in the X1. Is that a good thing? Generally I’d say, yes. The things you need most – radio, satnav, phone, and HVAC are all there on the main screen, and this screen is really close up next to you and easy to prod. The satnav display is much better than the BMW and also shows in the digital dashboard between the dials. One oddity was when we asked for a destination using voice control and it asked us to choose from a list – we couldn’t see a list anywhere..

    On balance the interior is about on a par with the X1, plastics on the dash not as nice, but face level air vents, although a strange shape, are well engineered with metal rotary knobs giving very good control of airflow and direction, unlike the not so easily controlled and rather cheap plastic jobs on the X1. Good storage space around the centre console for keys and phone etc which the X1 lacks and the door bins are big. Standard sound system is ok, not as good as the X1 though and it comes mostly from the front of the doors and the dashboard whereas on the X1 it’s more around you with speakers under the seats. We didn’t play with the audio settings.

    MrsW found the R-Design seats comfortable, liked the better support of the backrest bolsters to the X1 seats when cornering. I didn’t, getting a numb bum after a couple of hours – possibly more trial and error with the adjustments would have fixed it, but not a concern as the Inscription Pro seats are different.

    So, driving. The hybrid system works very well moving from electric to petrol seamlessly, the DCT gearbox is good. Even with a depleted battery the car moves off on the electric motor and the engine takes over at about 15-20 mph if you go gently, as you would in town traffic. The engine does show itself up in hard acceleration. The BMW three pot has a nice growl to it, the Volvo one sounds like a bag of nails when pushed hard – no contest there, but it’s quiet in the cruise. I could live with it.

    On picking the car up, it had a full battery and a fully petrol tank. The battery claimed to be good for 24 miles. I took the car home to pick up MrsW so she could practice getting on and off the drive and she drove the first stint in “pure” mode, i.e. battery only. In town as you’d expect smooth and quiet going as far as the traction went. Disappointingly the suspension thumped and hammered at low speed in places where we know the X1 doesn’t. The R-Design has a “sport chassis” and 45 profile tyres whereas the Inscription doesn’t and is on 50 profiles. When we test one it’s going to need to be much better. Pure mode was good for 60mph on the way out of town, but the range was rapidly reducing. The big bugbear of the X1 is road noise and the XC40 is better, but disappointingly not massively better. MrsW wears a hearing aid which she removes in the car because various noises get amplified too much. She said the noise level in the Volvo affected it less than the BMW but she’d still  take it out on a journey. The concrete road of the Puddletown bypass still caused the Volvo tyres to howl but a more subdued howl than the X1.

    Even with the sports chassis the XC40 is no X1 when it comes to handling, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. The steering is light but very precise and has a confident feel. Snicking round roundabouts, the turn in and exit are very tidy at the sort of speeds MrsW complains about when I’m driving. Hopefully the softer Inscription will still be good enough there.

    Towards the end of the three hour drive I liked the car more than at the beginning. We had to get through slow rush hour traffic and it is a really easy to drive car in those conditions. Moving off is very smooth, the electric motor does all the work up to about 15 or more mph and you need to listen for when the engine takes over. The brakes are smooth and progressive too. In the sort of commute MrsW will be doing it’s just right. The other consideration, relevant to short commutes is the ability to precondition the car, especially in the winter when household current can heat the seats and the interior and defrost the windscreen. Although it’s MrsW’s car, I’m the one who goes out, starts it and scrapes the ice before she sets off to work. So it’s a choice between another X1 or an XC40 and that may just be the deciding factor.



Viewing 25 replies - 1 through 25 (of 76 total)
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  • #146329 Reply

    Nice report there Wigwam. So much detail, especially as a comparison with the X1.

    ***🌻🌻🌻 ***
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    #146335 Reply

    Great review thank you, am I right in saying that the xc40 atm is just stock only orders? I remember reading it here somewhere

    #146336 Reply
    72 dudes

    I’m surprised you found the R Design thumped and hammered over bumps. Our Inscription (non Pro) has 18″ wheels and is the smoothest riding car we’ve had since a 2001 Citroen C5!

    Dealers often inflate the tyres to the Eco setting which can be safely reduced by 5 psi or so.

    I know the R Design has the “sports” chassis but having driven one with 20″ wheels, it still rode well, although I found the tyre noise intrusive at Motorway speeds and it tended to “tramline”.

    I think you’ll find the Inscription Pro more comfortable.

    #146337 Reply

    You did read it somewhere here TheSuvGuy but it was wrong. Factory orders 3 to 4 months according to my dealer.

    #146338 Reply

    72 Dukes, the extra weight of the hybrid probably doesn’t help, and of course I’m not about to play with tyre pressures on a test drive. I hope you’re right about the Inscription. The hybrid runs on 19″ wheels.

    #146343 Reply

    Ahh that’s great to hear Wigwam, it’s nice that they didn’t just lower the price because of stock only orders then

    #146344 Reply

    There was uncertainty about the new price list and whether specs might change, but nothing changed.

    #146349 Reply
    Glos Guy

    Brilliant review Wigwam. No car is perfect and the best reviews acknowledge that and highlight both the strengths and the weaknesses, as you have done. We are having a test drive in the T5 Recharge next week (hopefully an Inscription Pro, but not certain) and we are having a second test drive in an X1 tomorrow, as we want to spend a few hours in the Sport seats (the one we had in the week had standard seats).

    I was wondering if you are comparing the Volvo against your current X1 or the face-lifted one? We thought that the pre facelift interior of the X1 was quite low rent by BMW standards but has been much improved with the facelift. Im surprised that you found the Sat Nav better in the Volvo. As you will know, BMW increased the size of the standard iDrive screen with the facelift. From what I’ve seen of the Volvo mapping on reviews, I didn’t think it looked anywhere near as good as the BMW mapping, but I will reserve judgement until we drive it. Frankly, anything will be better than the VW system we have now! The front interior of the X1 certainly feels more compact than our Tiguan, so I’m not surprised to hear that it’s the same versus the Volvo.

    Having watched and read several reviews of the XC40 and the T5 Recharge in particular, it’s interesting that several of your findings are the complete opposite to the reviewers. Like you, I would get an Inscription Pro, but the reviews consistently say that the suspension setup is far better on the R-Design models. The XC40 is said to roll more than its peers in bends, so maybe it’s to do with that?  Those having seat comfort issues in the XC40 seem to be those with the Inscription Pro. Those with R-Design models don’t seem to have the same problem. Reviewers found the Volvo touchscreen too complicated to use when on the move (too much info to read safely and no iDrive equivalent). Also, all the T5 Recharge reviews say that the brakes are poor and make stopping distances very difficult to judge. Maybe Volvo has addressed this after all the negative feedback on it. I stress I haven’t driven one, so these aren’t my views, but hopefully we will get an Inscription Pro next week as my fear is that with with an R-Design it would be like comparing an M-Sport X1 with an xLine version.

    #146350 Reply

    We test drove one last week. We had wanted a Corolla (separate thread) but the Volvo PHEV deal was far too good to pass up. It was AMAZING! Dream car in fact, by far the best car we’ve ever driven, and I’ve driven some nice cars  (that weren’t on Motability)

    So, we’ve gone for the Corolla. What the heck?

    Well, we are high milers, we live on the motorway, and the XV40 PHEV economy over long journeys is beyond abysmal – the salesman was very honest with us

    He has the XC40 PHEV as his daily commute. He can’t charge it at home but it does regenerate a little on his commute but even so his average since acquiring the vehicle was just 24 mpg. Let that sink in – 24 mpg! And on a 130 mile motorway jaunt? He said don’t expect it to exceed 30 mpg very often and then only if you’re lucky

    For comparison, over the 1500 miles we put on our self charging hybrid while we had it as a courtesy car, we averaged over 60 mpg with the occasional 70+ mpg commute but that was rare, so our projected £250-300 monthly fuel bill in the Corolla could have been £500-600 in the Volvo!

    I’m not negging on the Volvo – I’ve had two, one private and one on Motability – and they are my goto car, money no object I’d have one every single time even over far more expensive rivals, and the XC40 put such a massive smile on my face I was grinning like a fool for the whole test drive – especially in sport mode, it has a fruity tone that sounds like “half of a V6” as my mate puts it and takes off like a scolded cat

    Just be very wary if you’re getting one as a high mileage user and expecting it to be cheap to run just because it’s a plug-in hybrid

    #146352 Reply

    Our current X1 interior is the same as new ones except the width of the i-Drive screen as you say, Glos Guy. The wider screen was an option as part of a tech pack when we got ours.  As for the Volvo touch screen, I think there is a lot of confirmation bias amongst reviewers, who mimick each other’s criticisms. I didn’t expect to like it, but I do. The two screens with fiddly little icons that reviewers talk about I never saw. There seemed no reason to use them while on the move. As for the brake issue, it must have been fixed. I found the brakes needed a firmer prod than the X1 but no inconsistency in application.

    #146353 Reply

    Reviewers also criticise the HVAC controls. Again I couldn’t see a problem, although I would prefer twisting a knob. The set temperature values and modes  are always on the screen at the bottom. Touching them gives you the option at a second touch to slide temp up and down or to touch a big plus and minus button, or you could just use the voice control and say turn heating up/down. If I was to have s criticism it’s that the temp adjusts in half degree increments which seems unnecessary and means more tap at the screen to move the temperature.

    #146358 Reply

    Wigwam deep down I feel you got almost a love for BMW👍, the change to Volvo (which you regularly have criticised), I feel may not be the car for you…🥴

    We have always had Volvo cars, my Daughter has had almost only new BWM’s 1,2,5,x3 M sports, hard ride, noisy, for me BMW is just a badge for posers, yes I call her a poser too.🤣🤣

    Why change from the great BMW, I if had any doubt on the Volvo I wouldn’t consider it..

    For me the closest I got to considering the BMW was  7pm visit when it was shut, and yes I looked it over and the words to Mrs Ajn were Nah, don’t like it😆, must say if had to choose the 2 series suv thing maybe..

    At least it will bump up your posts, mainly complaining you should have gone BMW.🤣😂

    Great read though about your test drive..


    #146379 Reply
    Glos Guy

    Adrian – that mpg figure is so bad it’s almost unbelievable, had you not been told it by someone who is trying to sell you the car! I know that members on this forum with the 2.0 4 cylinder petrol engine XC40 report very poor economy, but I’m staggered that a 1.5 3 cylinder petrol engine could be that bad. Wigwam – did u check what mpg you achieved over your 3 hours? Both my daughters have 3 cylinder petrol engines cars (one’s a Ford and the other is a Hyundai) and both deliver mid 40’s mpg in mixed driving. Both engines have a nice note to them too, much to my surprise, although sound a bit rough at idle. Car Magazine did an interesting group test on the XC40 Recharge, Peugeot 3008 PHEV and Ford Kuga PHEV and I was surprised that the winner was the Kuga, which achieved by far the best overall mpg in spite of being the biggest car. It seems to have a far better electric range than the others which no doubt helps. The CVT transmission put me off the Kuga, whereas the XC40 has a conventional auto which I would much prefer.

    #146382 Reply
    Glos Guy

    Wigwam – I’m confused. How did you manage to have a facelifted X1 but with the smaller Sat Nav? Or is yours the pre-facelift model but with the newer seats, which I think they added a year or so before the facelift?

    #146388 Reply

    Glos Guy. If by facelift you mean the revised front end with bigger grill, then ours is pre facelift.  Did the wider screen come with the facelift along with the deletion of the sliding rear bench seat and the inclusion of tinted glass? We’ve got the sliding bench and had to pay for the glass.  The seats were changed a year before ours.  The cabin is identical to the current models except the display screen.

    #146390 Reply

    Ajn, I’m prepared for the possibility of being conflicted if we go for the Volvo. I may have to factor the cost of seeing a psychologist in the decision making process.

    #146391 Reply

    Glos Guy. The car showed 40mpg after our run.  I think it was showing about 26mpg when we started, but this was a brand new car with only dealer mileage on it and of course some of that mileage was run on battery.  We didn’t reset it, so I can’t conclude much from the figures.  My instinct is that on a long open road run it will get 40 where the X1 would get 47. On a short run of course it could be double that starting with a full battery.  Overall with our pattern of use I don’t expect it break the bank, or make us great savings either.

    #146392 Reply
    Glos Guy

    Glos Guy. If by facelift you mean the revised front end with bigger grill, then ours is pre facelift. Did the wider screen come with the facelift along with the deletion of the sliding rear bench seat and the inclusion of tinted glass? We’ve got the sliding bench and had to pay for the glass. The seats were changed a year before ours. The cabin is identical to the current models except the display screen.

    Yes, but the spec isn’t as you describe. Exterior changes were mainly revised headlights with different LED design, bigger grille, replacement of round fog lights with small horizontal ones, different trim detailing, two tone alloys etc. All cosmetic, but much improve the look IMHO. Interior changes were more significant. A bigger iDrive screen as standard but also interior quality much improved and now more like the BMW’s I know. Most notable was the upgrading of the upper and lower dash and binnacle around the gear lever all with ‘leather look’ material with the contrast stitching that you get on the leather seats. Looks far less ‘budget BMW’ now. The sliding rear seats were deleted as you say, but privacy glass is still a cost option. Can’t recall the other changes off the top of my head but need to dash as off for second test drive 😂

    #146394 Reply

    Glos Guy, I had a quick look at a showroom X1 last week and I didn’t really notice the changes you mention but I only looked through the glass and was looking at the layout. I will have to go back and examine it and maybe re-assess the Volvo v the BMW.  Would it be enough to push me back to the X1?

    The fresh are vents don’t look to have changed though. They are still just a better quality plastic version of what’s in my 17 year old Jazz.

    #146408 Reply

    Wigwam stay BMW, surely nothing compares to them, the ultimate driving machine.. (years ago maybe)..

    The disappointment will be unbearable here if you go Volvo 😂🤣.

    I think BMW have been caught up by  rest to date..


    #146409 Reply

    Not to argue your point, ajn, but offer me a power unit from a competitor to rival the BMW B48 unit and 7 speed DCT box for performance, refinement and economy. I don’t know of one.

    #146411 Reply

    When I was young it was everyone’s dream to own/drive a BMW and especially Mercedes. No longer. Very much mainstream although I have to admit the 1 series was the best drivers car I had.

    #146413 Reply

    I hope the new 2022 BMW X1 makes it to the scheme straight away instead of the usually 6-12month wait, it’ll most likely be my next car in 3 years time, the leaked interior looks great

    #146414 Reply

    @ajn you obviously have a beef against BMW’s to the extent of talking round objects.

    I have the 320i, it’s far from noisy, its not a hard ride and I’m not a poser. It’s quick and still averages 38mpg. If I wanted a car that averaged 24mpg it certainly wouldn’t be a Volvo XC40.


    #146415 Reply

    I suspect ajn’s beef is not against BMWs, just anyone who drives one.

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