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In-depth reviews

Volvo XC40 SUV - Engines, drive & performance

The B4 petrol is a good all-rounder, with punchy performance

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4.0 out of 5

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Engines, drive & performance Rating

4.0 out of 5

With pleasingly weighted steering, plenty of composure in corners and decent ride comfort, the Volvo XC40 should be more than capable enough to satisfy families. It may lack the engaging nature and steering feel of the Jaguar E-Pace and Mazda CX-5 but it's ahead of plenty of other rivals in driving terms; the DS 7 to name but one.

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It’s a model you’ll happily waft around in with the minimum of fuss, and both the B3 and B4 engines have plenty of power to make the XC40 feel quite spritely. With an automatic gearbox fitted, you're best leaving it to its own devices, especially as the odd left-for-up, right-for-down action of the shifter in manual mode is very unsatisfying.

Petrol engines

There are two petrol models on offer, now that the range-topping 247bhp B5 has been discontinued. The 194bhp B4 gets mild-hybrid assistance from a starter-generator and 48-volt battery and are available only with an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Four-wheel drive was standard on the B5, but the B4 is front-wheel drive. A less powerful B3 (with 161bhp from the same 2.0-litre engine) replaced the 1.5-litre T3, sitting below the B4 in the range.

With an extra cylinder and the benefit of mild hybrid hardware, the latest B3 feels quieter and smoother than the thrummy 1.5-litre three-cylinder. Acceleration is strong away from a standstill, and its 0-62mph time of 8.6 seconds feels plenty quick enough for a small SUV. In place of a manual option, there’s a new dual-clutch seven-speed automatic gearbox that delivers smooth shifts.

Plug-in hybrid engines

While as of April 2024 they’re no longer available on the brand’s configurator, the Volvo XC40 Recharge T4 and T5 plug-in hybrid models are worth a mention, and we expect them to return to the lineup. Both use the 1.5-litre petrol engine, an electric motor and a 10.7kWh battery, though the T4’s motor is 50bhp less powerful. 

In the T4 Recharge plug-in hybrid, the system produces 208bhp for a 0-62mph time of 8.5 seconds. Go for the T5 Recharge and they produce a maximum of 258bhp, propelling the car from 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds, which makes it the quickest model in the range bar the fully electric EX40 Twin version. You can tell the car which power source to use via a set of driving modes, or leave it to juggle between them. Do this and the switch between the two is almost unnoticeable, which is helped by the standard-fit seven-speed automatic gearbox.

The electric motor takes a lot of pressure off the 1.5-litre petrol, so most of the time it feels like a larger engine with impressive refinement, only sounding harsh at high revs. The main negative is a slightly unnatural feel to the braking thanks to the energy harvesting. The extra weight of the battery pack can also make the ride feel slightly less plush on occasion.

Electric motors

The Volvo EX40 – previously known as the XC40 Recharge EV – is fitted with two electric motors in ‘Twin’ guise, one for each axle, giving it a total of 402bhp. No, that's not a typo; the small crossover has more power than many supercars a couple of decades ago. Acceleration from 0-62mph takes just 4.9 seconds, while its top speed is limited to 112mph. A single-motor version was introduced later and produces 235bhp, has a 7.3-second 0-62mph time and a noticeably cheaper price; we think most buyers will be perfectly happy with the entry-level version. 

An Extended Range single-motor version is also available and has a slightly higher 249bhp, but with the added weight of a larger battery, 0-62mph sprint performance is identical to the entry-level car.

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Which Is Best?

Cheapest

  • Name
    2.0 B3P Core 5dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £36,310

Most Economical

  • Name
    2.0 B3P Core 5dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £36,310

Fastest

  • Name
    2.0 B4P Plus Dark 5dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £40,960

Charlie writes and edits news, review and advice articles for Carbuyer, as well as publishing content to its social media platforms. He has also been a regular contributor to its sister titles Auto Express, DrivingElectric and evo. As well as being consumed by everything automotive, Charlie is a speaker of five languages and once lived in Chile, Siberia and the Czech Republic, returning to the UK to write about his life-long passion: cars.

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