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 - 51 through 75 (of 76 total)
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  • #146596 Reply

    The Volvo PHEV, makes sense over the straight ICE version, currently, there is zero AP increase to have the battery. But if running costs are a concern, unless you do 95% of your driving in chunks of less than 20 miles with a charging station at the stop points, I just can’t see anything attractive on the current Volvo offerings, the diesel’s were economical, AP’s used to be reasonable, but you can’t say that anymore sadly.

    Hopefully, Volvo will soon have its EV’s on the scheme, they do make nice safe cars, that are great to sit in, even if potentially boring to drive, but they don’t make economical petrol engines, they were always renowned for their diesels.  I had an XC40 D5 as a hire car in northern Sweden, and it was phenomenal in the Ice and snow, even the big touch screen was great (once I’d spent an hour trying to switch it from Swedish to English), I did test drive the Incription Pro this time and really liked it, APART from the fuel consumption.

    As to the debate on Brands, I’m definitely a slut, and have zero loyalty to Brands, I go for the car that does what I need at a price I can afford.  I’m luckier than Wigwam and Glos Guy though, in that it’s only me getting the car and not having to please the wife…

    #146598 Reply

    Interestingly I moved from a BMW 535d to a Volvo Xc60 D5 and now have an I3s Ev. I must say I thought the Volvo was noisy, unrefined, expensive on fuel and we really didn’t get on…..I’m not a brand snob, but there was a big gap between Volvo and BMW in my recent experiences

    #146599 Reply

    Intranicity, it’s not just the 20 mile trips, of course, the electrics also help on longer journeys hence the 55mpg figure in Australia.  And there’s quiet and easy driving on local daily commutes and the ability to precondition in winter and save defrosting and have the interior warmed up every morning.

    #146601 Reply

    Intranicity, it’s not just the 20 mile trips, of course, the electrics also help on longer journeys hence the 55mpg figure in Australia. And there’s quiet and easy driving on local daily commutes and the ability to precondition in winter and save defrosting and have the interior warmed up every morning.

    Agree, the ability to preheat is wonderful, I love the Kona for that too.

    I wonder how the driving in Australia compares to the UK, average speeds, lack of hills and lower traffic densities,  If it really can deliver 55mpg in the real world, it’s a VAST improvement of the current ICE version, and I hope that it does, time will tell

    Not sure if you’ve seen this article based on UK driving?  But mostly short journeys they were achieving around 70mpg, but 60 mile commute with no charging brought the MPG down to 38mpg, but over 6 months, mainly short journeys, they achieved a very respectable 83mpg.  Regular short journeys and keeping it plugged in, the XC40 makes sense, not convinced that’s the case if you’re plodding the motorways and doing longer journeys.  Still, that’s academic for me, I’ve gone EV and in the end, cars and costs are a very personal thing, hopefully, you’ll all find a car that meets your needs.

    Long Term Test: Volvo XC40 PHEV

    Previous Motability Cars
    2006 - 2009 Skoda Superb VR6 2.0tdi
    2009 - 2012 Citroen C5 2.0tdi VTR Nav
    2012 - 2015 Nissan Qashqai 1.5dci tekna
    2015 - 2018 Ford Kuga 2.0tdi Titanium X
    2018 - 2021 BMW 220d X drive 2 Series Active Luxury
    2021- Hyundai Kona Electric Premium SE

    #146602 Reply
    Glos Guy

    I’ve only had one Volvo and it was a long time ago. It was a 2.5 litre 850 estate and I have to say I really liked it and it was lovely to drive. However, that was some years before I discovered BMW’s, so I’m looking forward to Wednesday when I can drive the XC40 within days of driving the X1. I suspect that they are very different beasts, each with their own pros and cons and I shall be sure to give a balanced review of my findings, as Wigwam did.

    We are lucky that we have a large garage that we can put our cars in overnight, so plugging a car in is easy, but we won’t benefit from any pre-heating as thankfully we never have to contend with frost on the car!

    • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 3 days ago by Glos Guy.
    #146610 Reply

    Just an observation, AJN, but a  lot of people feel ‘validated’ by their possessions. They surround themselves with things that tell the world who and what they are. Most of us judge others by external appearances and possessions. We don’t have the time to do an in depth analysis. There may be many logical reasons for brand preference, one of which is badge snobbery, other like a brand perhaps because of engineering, or performance or loyalty. If you are at heart a brand snob, then what better way to reinforce your belief that you are a ‘superior’ person than by an ‘objective’ look at everything else and then concluding, ‘reluctantly’ that you will get what you wanted all along, that badge that you believe says something about you, your taste and status in life. There aren’t many in the motability crowd since function has to trump form every time.

    Despite being tempted I have never succumbed, to badge snobbery, in its way for the opposite, but same reason. I don’t want to be thought of as the kind of person who measures himself by trappings, or someone who could bore you to death discussing the finer points of V8s. In truth I could plead guilty to both of the above, since despite trying to dress down in appearance, I always tip and tip too much. I eat and drink without regard to cost. That’s my need to be recognized as someone who enjoys the finer things of life. When I talk about food I know what I am talking about. That’s my weakness, for others its cars. At least I am open and honest about being a food and drink snob. If only every badge ‘fanboy’ could be the same.

    Ultimately who cares, since if we were paying with out government funding no one could care less.

    #146611 Reply

    I always tip for good food and service, If its poor I put the smallest denomination coin down that I can find. And then wait for them to come and pick it up. But again that’s a form of snobbery.

    #146621 Reply

    An interesting point of view Sif which I have to agree with. I had an aquaintance from London who would only drive Merc’s and I had just got a 1 series. He commented in from of his shop full of customers “nice car but it’s the wrong badge”. I simply smiled and soon he realised the foolishness of his remarks.  I have had two BMW’s. One great one average. The 1 series was a fantastic car to drive. The X1 sadly not especially combined with a faulty auto box and poor dealer experience. Would I consider another one? Probably not, however, as with many thing’s it comes down to price and perceived value for money in the end.

    #146629 Reply

    <p style=”text-align: left;”>Very interesting posts, I just think the main reason for the scheme is to get the disabled mobile in which I am grateful…</p>
    This forum is excellent for people like me (1st time joining) to ask questions of the procedure.

    However it’s more like a drivers forum of bmw sometimes, I would’ve thought by a certain age speed, power image would subside.

    Yes I’m aware that the bmw is on the scheme but still it’s only a car meant to get the disabled around, some comments on here are almost pathetic and maybe be better placed on some pimp your ride forum, it’s only a car, that’s all it is..


    #146630 Reply

    Well this morning I’ve had a watered down test drive in a T5 recharge R Design. I’m having an overnight test later this week so I can do the school run etc and see how the battery will cope with that etc. I’ll do a more detailed revue then but for now I would just like to pass on a few initial impressions.

    I think the way to a successful test drive is not to expect too much. The XC40 does not profess to be a sporty agile b-roader. I expected comfort, safety, style and practicality. It provides these by the bucketload. Outside it really is stylish. It makes a statement and basically that statement is the 3 things mention above.

    The doors close with a lovely thud, it sounds of quality. The feel inside is definitely premium, right up there with the big 3. Not flashy but once again very stylish, practical and comfortable. The seats feel very ‘spacious’. I’m used to a sportier seat but these are certainly aimed away from that. Lovely looking seats too. I’m 6’2″ and with the drivers seat set for me I had lots of room in the back, both for my head and legs.

    More about the drive later in the week as I only covered around 10 miles. Having said that they were very smooth miles. Supposedly the sporty set up but it wasn’t very inspiring (not supposed to be), inscription pro supposed to be softer so we’ll see. Pretty quiet on the  move. Much quieter than our 2 series Gran Tourer with regards to tyre noise which can be quite loud on certain surfaces. Engine has grunt should you need it, I thought the 3 cylinder sounded quite harsh when pressed but the answer would be not to thrash it. Remember its a safe, solid , comfortable mode of transport and not for racing about. On a worrying note, the car had 17 miles of electric range when I got in. Drove about 10 miles and this had dropped to 1 mile. That was in Hybrid mode too. We’ll see what the 24hr test brings but I think you would all too quickly become solely dependant on that 3 cylinder engine and that’s going to bring the mpg right down. Car was showing 40.8 mpg but of course I had no idea of how its been driven. Will do an accurate test in 2nd drive.

    So that’s it for now. It does what it’s supposed too. If I was going on a 200 mile drive tomorrow I don’t think I would look out of the window and think, yay, can’t wait . But at least I would know I was going to be comfortable and well looked after.

    #146631 Reply

    Ajn, given this thread is about comparing a Volvo with a BMW, it’s hard to avoid talking about BMW. There has been lots of chat about Golfs on other threads too and of course Hyundai Konas.  They are only cars…

    #146646 Reply

    Yes wig, however it’s all in the name of motability, wmc forum, as I say it’s all getting a bit much topgear   trying   to   be’s,   it just my opinion wigwam, not a insult or put down, an opinion..

    Most people would be grateful for transport never mind some of the total  self indulgent post on here.

    I mean do you really feel the disabled need all this stuff mentioned here, do you think it’s a bit far fetch some of the self importance going on..

    I’m starting to understand some of the dealers attitude when we’re walking in saying motability customer and coming out with all this stuff..


    #146649 Reply
    Which Mobility Car

    ajn, some people just like cars, it’s a hobby, a pastime, an interest. Don’t try to pigeonhole people, just go with the flow. I like numbers, by the age of 11 I knew every detail of every motorcycle on the market, I still want that Moto Morini 3 1/2.  I’ve a friend who is a BMW nut, I still talk to him, I argue with him and have a laugh, in fairness his wife does drive a Ford Focus. Vive la difference and all that.

    #146660 Reply

    Point taken wmc, I have an interest in cars too, off road motor bikes grew up on them, still love a blast on big road bikes to date..

    I just think the average motability customer loads of this stuff mentioned seems overboard…

    Maybe I’ve just got caught up in this and now I’ll just fade it…

    Thanks for pointing me in the right direction though👍



    #146714 Reply

    The thing is, we all have different interests and generally people like to talk about their own, here cars. I guess for 90%, their car renewal is just a routine thing, some even see it as a nuisance but for the other 10% it´s something really positive. I like the detailed reviews which provide a degree of impartiality that it is difficult to find on car review sites. If I come across something interesting, I read it, if not I pass. I have negotiated discounts and found deals thanks to information here. Lots of serious threads, combined with a few lighthearted ones is a good combination. Although not necessarily everyone cup of tea, cars from BMW in particular are popular with many contributors, hence their prevalence on this forum in various threads, although we are seeing more on electric options, a trend which I expect to continue. I agree with AJN that for the average motability customer there is way too much info in many threads but the majority of contributors/readers here are not “average”, they are seeking more. Information, and of course information and knowledge is key.

    #146754 Reply
    Glos Guy

    Just had a call from our nearest Volvo dealer to say that our test drive of the XC40 T5 Recharge booked for tomorrow is cancelled. Two reasons. One is that the dealer is losing its franchise as a new dealership (different owner) will be opening in a few months. Second reason (and this may be dealer BS but I will repeat it exactly as said to me) is that the XC40 is now affected by the semi-conductor shortage and all dealerships have been told that they cannot take any new orders. He specifically said ‘for Motability customers’ and I think he even said that some orders had been cancelled. When I pressed him on this and said, why just Motability and not retail, he said retail orders are affected as well. As I say, this may be utter BS but that’s what he told me.

    It would have taken an awful lot to change to the XC40 from the BMW X1 after our 6 hours in two different X1’s over the last week and the things that I was concerned that I wouldn’t like about the XC40 have been confirmed by those who have driven it so far, so I’m not going to lose too much sleep over it (queue for the BMW haters to weigh in), but I know that the XC40 is a very popular car on the scheme and a lot of people are seriously considering it, so I do hope that what this dealer has told me turns out to be untrue. I’m hoping that as the X1 is quite dated now and doesn’t, for example, have a digital dash, that it won’t be affected by this semi-conductor issue, which seems to be getting quite widespread.

    #146760 Reply

    I’d say that some of the recent reviews on here are amongst the best I have ever seen, and I am an obsessive reader of reviews. You really get a feel for a car especially if there are different views. I just wish each of us could have a testing clone, to go out there with all our, or partners limitations, and save us the hassle. Disabled people looking for a car with easy access have to go and haul themselves in and out of cars to test access. Barmy.

    #146773 Reply

    Glos Guy, I have just spoken to our local Volvo “senior sales specialist”.  He says he’s not been told Volvo Cars being affected by the chip shortage and would expect to be able to place factory orders.  Which is not to say restrictions might happen, of course but there’s nothing at the moment. He will make enquiries.

    Semiconductor chips are used in every part of all cars of, course, not just digital dashboards, so it’s all about the resilience of each manufacturers supply chain…

    The dealer has been busy selling its demonstrators and tells me he has 10 new XC40’s coming in this week, one of which is a T5 hybrid Inscription Pro which we have first dibs on next Tuesday.



    #146798 Reply
    Glos Guy

    Interesting Wigwam. Seems like I have experienced some of the anti-mobility disdain that a few other forum users have experienced with some Volvo dealers. However, I guess if they are closing soon they just can’t be bothered, so I hope that this is unique to this dealership (Volvo Bristol). As with all dealers, there are good and bad ones in every brand and I’ve just been unlucky

    Whilst the reviews on the XC40 are generally very good, the areas that it scores down on are areas that are important to me. Also (and I realise that I am in a minority of one in this regard) but I just don’t like the look of it. The X1 is obviously an older car but I really like the way it drives and I found it to be enjoyable to spend time in, especially with the superb iDrive. Whilst I was looking forward to the XC40 test drive, I just couldn’t get terribly excited about the prospect of running one for 3 years. I’m adding quite a few options to the X1 it to make it even more enjoyable and some of those things aren’t even available as options on the Volvo, so I’m happy with my choice. Next time around I suspect that our choice will be restricted even more than it is now, so whilst we still have the chance, I’m going to get something that will give me some enjoyment after the extremely dull Tiguan. For me, I don’t think that would be the Volvo, but I’m sure that it’s a fantastic car for those whose needs and preferences are different to mine.

    Thankfully, my local BMW dealer has nabbed a cancelled X1 order slot from another dealer today and can switch the spec to mine. If all goes well I might have it in as little as two months from now, which is when our current lease ends. Fingers crossed.

    #146814 Reply

    Just to add that I was told yesterday that if I order the Volvo in the next 9 days it would be for a June build date. No mention of any shortages.

    #146815 Reply
    Glos Guy

    Just to add that I was told yesterday that if I order the Volvo in the next 9 days it would be for a June build date. No mention of any shortages.

    That’s good news. Clearly Volvo Bristol don’t want to be bothered with Motability customers during their final months of trading. I might drop Volvo UK a line as, whilst I have found a car that suits us better elsewhere, for those in our area who really want a Volvo this sort of attitude is unacceptable.

    #147192 Reply
    Glos Guy

    Wigwam – I spoke too soon about the X1. Our predicted build date has just been moved back 5 weeks due to component shortages (don’t know whether it’s semiconductor related or not).

    Re the XC40, whilst I have given up on it, I emailed Volvo Cars UK to complain about our cancelled test drive and the bull that the dealer told us about Motability orders not being taken as a result of semiconductor issues. Pathetic response, asking if it was OK to pass on my complaint to the dealer to deal with it! I replied saying no, I would like a response from Volvo UK and, specifically, was there any truth in what the dealer told me. I’ve heard nothing since. Leaves a very bad taste in the mouth. I’m just relieved that I didn’t have my heart set on an XC40.

    Hope that your test drive of the Inscription Pro goes well as I sense you fancy a change from the X1. I would still check out the facelifted X1 properly before you finally decide though. It does look much better inside and out than the pre-facelifted version and also has a good few grands worth of extra kit as standard over the 2018 model that you have. You can also get the 4WD one now if you want it (as we did).

    #147196 Reply

    It’s still very much in the balance, Glos Guy. We would go for the 4wd X1 too. At the price it would be rude not to.  My one concern is the lack of digital tech on the X1 (I love the colour satnav map in front of the driver and the voice control on the XC40) which is already dated, and three years on will appear antidiluvian! But the interior of the X1 is better, even the one we have. The XC40 floor coverings (I won’t call them carpets) are pretty poor.

    #147201 Reply
    Glos Guy

    It’s still very much in the balance, Glos Guy. We would go for the 4wd X1 too. At the price it would be rude not to. My one concern is the lack of digital tech on the X1 (I love the colour satnav map in front of the driver and the voice control on the XC40) which is already dated, and three years on will appear antidiluvian! But the interior of the X1 is better, even the one we have. The XC40 floor coverings (I won’t call them carpets) are pretty poor.

    The lack of a digital dash doesn’t worry me at all Wigwam, as we have one on our Tiguan and having played around with it when we first got the car I never change it now, so it’s a waste of time for us and looks no different from a conventional dash! However, I was concerned that the small dash on the X1 is quite low down compared to the Tiguan and the digital speed display is right at the bottom of it. Also, I found it difficult to see the whole dash through the steering wheel, even though it’s a small dashboard. I have therefore added yet another option to my order – Technology Pack 2, which gives me Head-up Display and the larger 10.25” iDrive screen.

    I’ve driven a few BMW’s with HUD and I loved it, as your current speed, speed limit, sat nav turn by turn instructions etc all look as though they are projected on the road ahead of you, so no need to keep glancing down. You can also configure it to display Check Control Messages and Media info, so it means that you really have no need to look at the dashboard at all, which means that I can get a perfect driving position without worrying if doing so obscures part of the dash. I think that will be significantly more useful to me than the digital dash that we have at present.

    Also, voice control is standard on the X1 now and works perfectly first time, unlike the cr*p version of it we have in the VW.

    • This reply was modified 1 week, 4 days ago by Glos Guy.
    • This reply was modified 1 week, 4 days ago by Glos Guy.
    #147209 Reply
    David in Suffolk

    Hi Glos Guy (and everyone else)

    I have the 2017 X1 (25d) and will stick with BMW as they drive so well with a great engine and auto-box – so after much consideration, no Volvo XC40 for me!

    You mention the X1 has a facelift – is the current X2 as upto date, or is it lagging behind?  Did you consider the X2?

    I will be very happy to grab an X1 or X2 with 2oi engine and xDrive – before they may possibly be removed

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