Volvo XC40 SUV - Engines, drive & performance
The B4 petrol is a good all-rounder, with punchy performance
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.
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.
There are two petrol models on offer, now that the range-topping 247bhp B5 has been discontinued. The 194bhp B4 (and the B5) get 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) has now 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
The Volvo XC40 Recharge T5 is a plug-in hybrid model consisting of the 1.5-litre petrol engine, an electric motor and a 10.7kWh battery. Together they produce a maximum of 258bhp and propel the car from 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds, making it the quickest model in the range bar the fully electric Recharge 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.
For a saving of a few grand, buyers can also opt for the Recharge T4 with the same petrol engine but with 50bhp less power. This increases its 0-62mph acceleration by just over a second to 8.5 seconds.
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 past supercars. Acceleration from 0-62mph takes just 4.9 seconds, while its top speed is limited to 112mph. Single-motor versions are now available with 235bhp, a 7.4-second 0-62mph time and a noticeably cheaper price; we think most buyers will be perfectly happy with the entry-level versions.
Which Is Best?
- Name1.5 T2 Momentum Core 5dr
- Gearbox typeManual
- Name1.5 T4 RC PHEV Inscription Expression 5dr Auto
- Gearbox typeSemi-auto
- Name2.0 B5P R DESIGN 5dr AWD Auto
- Gearbox typeSemi-auto