22 December 2020
Now that we’re nearing the end of our six months with the Volvo XC40, it’s a good time to reflect on our choice of options.
A quick reminder; we picked the R-design model and optioned Fusion red metallic paint, the Intellisafe Pro pack, Apple Carplay, rear parking camera and powered memory seats.
Given our time again, we’d option all of these items again, including the £1,500 Intellisafe Pro pack which was the most expensive option but included the brilliant clever cruise control and a host of other safety kit.
The only thing we didn’t option, but would do so, given our time again, would be front parking sensors. The XC40 isn’t big, but the given the charge point is at the front of the car and you have to forward into parking bays, sensors would make life easier.
What’s a shame is that they’re not standard even though the bumper has the mouldings for them.
8 December 2020
The speed with which electric vehicle technology evolves is impressive. In just two years Volvo’s plug-in hybrid tech has advanced noticeably.
To explain; I ran a Volvo V90 PHEV at the start of 2019 and while I basically loved it, I criticised it for two things. Firstly, the pure-EV range was never as good as the dashboard initially claimed and, secondly, if you used the pre-heat function when the car was plugged-in and charging, it still depleted the in-car battery and lowered the EV-only range. I never understood why it would do this and not use the electricity from the mains to pre-heat the car.
In the XC40 PHEV things have changed.
Firstly, the XC40 delivers a much more accurate initial range (typically 24 miles). Secondly, if you use the pre-heat function – something that’s a real luxury in the current weather – while the car is plugged in, it doesn’t lower the car’s range. Result!
The other improvement I’ve noticed is that the even on frosty mornings the engine doesn’t kick-in – allowing you to use only electricity to power the XC40. In the V90, low temperatures would mean the engine started up, no matter what mode you used.
24 November 2020
After a short break, I’m back doing an essential 30mile/30minute journey around a section of the M25 on a regular basis in the XC40.
There’s no charging facility at my destination so I always start the return leg with zero charge in the battery and this has given me the chance to examine the real-world mpg in this situation.
Almost without fail the Volvo XC40 PHEV returns 38mpg, according to the Volvo app. That’s okay, but not great. And I’ve tried using ‘eco’ mode (rather than the regular drive mode) and that doesn’t seem to make have any impact on the figures.
On the upside, my overall average for the past 3000 miles is still above 70mpg.
10 November 2020
We’re now a few thousand miles into our life with the XC40 and we’ve written about the technology, the efficiency and the practicalities, but what we’ve not discussed is the way the car drives.
Initial impressions are good. If there is such a thing as a premium driving experience the Volvo comes very close. Refinement is first rate for a car in this class. Assuming you’re not hammering the accelerator, there’s minimal road noise at either town or motorway speeds. With the only exception being that concrete section of the M25 between Leatherhead and Reigate where the resonance is a well below ‘first rate’.
Obviously, when the car’s in full-electric mode there’s no engine noise and very little electric motor whine too.
If you trigger the three-cylinder 1.5-ltre engine with a heavy foot, the result is a characterful thrum.
There’s plenty of power available too for a small SUV. The combination of the electric motor and petrol engine provides 262hp. That’s enough for 0-60mph in 7.3 seconds.
Despite the power the XC40 is not an involving drive, the power, instead, is used to make the driving experience an relaxing and easy one. No conditions will find the SUV labouring. It will keep up with quick traffic and overtake slower vehicles with ease. Just don’t expect excitement.
Of course, this is no bad thing, the Volvo is all about getting to your destination with the minimum of fuss, which it does with ease.
29 October 2020
After having seen an increased number of longer trips that slightly dented the average fuel consumption, the XC40 is now back to doing mostly local journeys and the mpg figure is back up at a 70mpg average.
While the longer journeys may have seen a drop in mpg, they did show the XC40 is every bit as good as larger premium cars at doing these longer journeys.
The additional shove from the electric motor means the smallest Volvo is seriously capable and relaxed in all conditions.
While small SUVs aren’t typically thought of as premium cars, the XC40 really does convey that feeling inside an out thanks to a stunning design and high quality materials. This means it is totally at home parked in front of stately homes as it is recharging in a multistorey carpark.
13 October 2020
While the travel cage for our dogs won’t quite fit in the boot of the XC40 (see 1 September report below for details), thankfully there is a solution.
Dog transport specialist Travall offers a range of kit that will keep your pooch, or pooches, safe while driving. So we’ve been testing the firm’s dog guard (which goes behind the rear seats), a boot divider (so you can carry two dogs separately) and a boot liner (to keep the floor clean).
The system is easier to assemble and fit than most flat-pack furniture thanks to simple instructions, and the only tool needed, beyond what’s in the pack, is a small spanner.
The guard and divider fit snugly too and that means there’s no rattles once it’s in place.
Importantly, when the parts are fitted you can still fold the rear seats. This means that if the worst came to the worst and you were hit from behind and the boot couldn’t be opened, you can still get your dogs out through the cabin.
Travall offers guards and dividers for a huge range of cars, which is good because in the case of the XC40, while you can order an official Volvo rear seat guard (for £260), there isn’t a divider on offer.
The Travall system with all three parts costs just £1 more at £261.
Now that it’s installed, my dogs can ride safety in the boot of the XC40.
Up until a couple of weeks ago my journeys were, in the majority, local. They were the ideal scenario for a plug-in hybrid such as the Volvo XC40.
However, things have changed and for the past month and the next month or so it looks like I’ll have 35 mile each way commute a couple of times a week. Mostly on the M25 and with no chance of plugging in at my destination.
So how has this impacted fuel consumption?
Over the most recent tankful of petrol (and multiple home charges) I covered 480 miles on 36.2 litres of unleaded. This equates to just over 60mpg.
Far from the official figure, but still a pretty impressive figure for a quick mid-size SUV.
15 September 2020
Connected cars are nothing new. Almost all brands now have an app that allows varying levels of information to be shared between the car and the owner’s phone.
However, Volvo has one of the most comprehensive systems available.
The Volvo On Call app has near full telemetry for every journey including distance, fuel consumption, route info and speed data. However, the functions that are of most use are the ability to send a sat-nav destination direct to the car so that when you get in you can simply select the point and go. It will also synchronise with your calendar, so you don’t have to retype an address.
In the case of the XC40 PHEV the app will also tell you the charge status (as well as the fuel tank level) plus the charge time if it’s plugged in.
Other handy info includes the status of the locks, doors and windows – and the app will alert you if you accidentally leave the car unlocked.
In summer months you can turn on the A/C remotely (or set a timer for it to happen at a later time and date) and in winter you can activate the heating in the same way.
It may seem a little silly, but your Volvo will also act as an external thermometer. If, like me, you like to know if it’s hot or cold before you stick your head outside your front door, just check the Volvo app and it will tell you. It’s an expensive way of getting an outdoor thermometer, but then you also get a free Volvo.
1 September 2020
It has to be said that I am occasionally called a pedant. And after my previous report about the Volvo XC40 plug-in hybrid, when I raved about the size of the boot and how it wasn’t compromised by PHEV tech like many rivals, I need to point out that there are limitations.
The boot size is completely accurate (and excellent) at 460 litres (and that’s with a spare wheel), but the minimum width of the boot is not the 1,004mm stated by Volvo. Well, sort of.
That is the minimum figure if you’re loading items that fit beneath the parcel shelf, but that’s not the minimum width if you’re in seats-down, loading-to-the-roof ‘van mode’.
If you are going to occasionally load higher than the parcel shelf, the minimum dimension is 925mm because there’s a plastic molding that intrudes into the boot to hold the parcel shelf. The thing is, most SUVs have a roll-a-blind style boot cover which wouldn’t need a ridge to sit on.
In my case, this intrusion meant the item I was planning to carry wouldn’t fit by 4mm.
Fingers crossed Volvo can make this change when the car’s facelifted or revised in a few years.
18 August 2020
Volvo’s XC40 may be the brand’s smallest SUV, but that doesn’t mean corners or costs have been cut.
The newest car to join the Company Car Today fleet, the Volvo XC40 plug-in hybrid, is also one of the most deceptive. It’s deceptive because on the outside it could be mistaken for just being yet another small SUV, one of the many that are winning customers over in droves.
Arguably one of the smartest looking SUVs in the sector, the XC40 only gets more impressive when you look inside. We’re not just talking about the quality of the materials used, but also the design. This carries over the look from the larger cars in the Volvo range but also adds some neat touches such as the pinpoint design on the dashboard.
Then there’s the amount of space inside. Obviously there’s plenty of room upfront for the driver and passenger, but there’s also good rear-seat legroom. And, somehow, there’s also a massive boot. With 460-litres on offer (even with a space-saver spare tyre) that’s more than many cars in the class above. For example, the Audi Q5 PHEV Company Car Today was running has a 395-litre boot.
Certainly, early trips to the garden centre (where else? It’s a Volvo) and Costco have proved a breeze.
Volvo’s engineers have made this possible by hiding the battery and electric motor elsewhere in the XC40 – not under the boot floor.
Talking of the electrics, the 10.7kWh battery gives the front-drive XC40 a pure-EV range of 28 miles and can be re-charged from zero to full in 2.5 hours on a home 7kw wallbox.
Over the next six months we’ll be seeing how it stacks up on the Company Car Today fleet.
4 August 2020
One of the most in-demand Volvos, the XC40, is now available as a plug-in hybrid and Company Car Today is fortunate enough to have one on its fleet.
The XC40 is in demand for a good reason. It’s one of the best looking (inside and out) small SUVs available plus it has one of the biggest boots in the class.
As a plug-in hybrid it’s powered by a 180hp 1.5 petrol engine combined with an 82hp electric motor with a range of 28 miles in EV mode.
We’ve picked the R-design trim level – the starting point on the PHEV ladder for the XC40 and added a few options such as fusion red metallic paint, the Intellisafe Pro safety pack, Apple Carplay (yes, it’s not standard) and powered memory seats.
Over the next six months we’ll see how it fits with our needs and if it lives up to the official economy figures. But going by our previous experience of PHEVs we’re very hopeful.