20 April 2021

Volvo XC40 Recharge PHEV 2021 Car Review

Volvo recently announced that it planned to be ‘fully electric’ by 2030, with a 50/50 split of electric and hybrid cars making up the Swedish manufacturer’s fleet by 2025.

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Volvo XC40 Recharge PHEV 2021
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Volvo XC40 Recharge PHEV 2021
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Volvo XC40 Recharge PHEV 2021
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Volvo XC40 Recharge PHEV 2021
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Volvo XC40 Recharge PHEV 2021
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Volvo XC40 Recharge PHEV 2021
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Volvo XC40 Recharge PHEV 2021

Priced from $84,900 (+ORC), the new Volvo XC40 Recharge plug in hybrid (PHEV) certainly doesn’t come cheap, but it really does provide a taste of Volvo’s future – a safe, attractive-looking SUV with exceptional fuel efficiency.

Being a PHEV, the XC40 Recharge allows you to travel up to 45km on electric power alone. This means it could be the perfect choice for someone looking to make significant fuel savings on their daily commute, but also might want to cover long distances on weekend road trips without the hassle of stopping for long periods to recharge.

A boxy silhouette

From the outside, the XC40 Recharge PHEV doesn’t look much different from its non-hybrid sibling. In fact, the only differences to the exterior that indicate that the XC40 Recharge PHEV is a hybrid is the discreet ‘Recharge’ lettering across the C pillar and on the T5 badge on the car’s rear.

The large, recognisable R-Design grille of modern Volvos remains, and compliments the boxy look of the SUV well, as do the gloss black roof and roof rails. Discreet lines around the door sills and across the bonnet, coupled with 20-inch alloy wheels, help make the XC40 Recharge PHEV a very good looking car indeed.

The striking Daytime Running Lights (DRLs) are named ‘Thor’s Hammer’ by Volvo – a nod to the marque’s Scandinavian roots. Perhaps fittingly, our test model was finished in the standout ‘Thunder Grey’ colour.

Despite being a ‘compact SUV’, the XC40 Recharge PHEV possesses great road presence.

Lush interior

The boxy look of the XC40 Recharge PHEV’s continues inside the car, with peculiarly-shaped vents dotted around the cabin. The gloss black theme continues on the interior, too, bordering each of the said vents and the infotainment screen.

Volvo went against the grain with the screen orientation, opting for portrait positioning over the conventional landscape placement. The screen is nine-inches in size, and has an almost smartphone-feel to it, the only drawback for some is that it can be quite fiddly to operate and navigate when on the move due to the layout of the menus. Audio is played through a premium Harmon Kardon sound system, which doesn’t just sound fantastic, it looks good too. Frustratingly, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are only available as an optional extra.

The quality of the leather upholstery is excellent, which is extended from the five seats to the dashboard and steering wheel. Both the driver and front passenger seats are power adjustable.

Storage is great, with generously-sized cup holders around the cabin and an enviable boot capacity of 460 litres with all seats up. This increases to 1,336 litres with the seats down.

While on the topic of space, the rear legroom is perfect and could easily house two fully sized adults in perfect comfort for a lengthy drive. The large panoramic sunroof makes the interior space feel even larger.

Compared to other premium SUVs from manufacturers like Mercedes-Benz and Audi, the interior of the XC40 Recharge PHEV might feel a year or two out of date, but it still has a feeling of quality and is a pleasant place to be in.

Electric performance

At the heart of the XC40 Recharge PHEV is a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine, which (with help from the electric motor) produces 192kW and 425Nm. Zero to 100km/h takes just 7.3 seconds, which is great considering the car weighs 1,760kg.

Despite the weight and the car’s boxy look, the SUV is agile and performed well on motorways and windy back roads. It also felt good on some steep unsealed roads, despite power only going to the front wheels. The ride was comfortable across varying terrain.

The XC40 Recharge PHEV’s greatest asset is its fuel efficiency – it has a combined fuel economy rating of 2.2L/100km, and a CO2 rating of just 51g/km. With considerate, planet-conscious driving, this is one frugal machine. The fact that you can drive on electric power alone means some journeys won’t use any petrol at all – perfect for quick trips like the school run or to the supermarket. Charging the battery takes around six hours, so it would be a case of just plugging the car in at night and forgetting about it until the next day.

Leaders in safety

Volvo are widely known as the safest manufacturer around, and the XC40 Recharge PHEV boasts safety features like Adaptive Cruise Control with Pilot Assist, Blind Spot Information System with Steer Assist, Collision Warning, Cross Traffic Alert with Autobrake and Oncoming Lane Mitigation to name just a few.

Despite this, the XC40 Recharge PHEV has not yet been rated by ANCAP. AA Motoring will update this review once the ANCAP safety rating is published.


The Volvo XC40 is an excellent compact SUV with desirable efficiency. At the minute, there isn’t much to compare it to on the NZ market.

It’s a premium PHEV SUV, so can only really be compared to more expensive hybrid options from BMW and Mercedes-Benz. The MINI Countryman PHEV is another option, although it falls well short from the Volvo in terms of an overall package.

Starting from around $17,000 more than the ‘standard’ XC40 with an internal combustion engine (ICE), Volvo is hoping buyers will justify the difference in price for the benefits of fuel economy and doing their bit to reduce emissions.

There will no doubt be a number of motorists in NZ for which the XC40 Recharge PHEV ticks all the boxes.

At a glance


Volvo XC40 Recharge PHEV


1.5-litre, three cylinder turbo


From $84,900 (+ORC)

ANCAP safety rating

Not rated at time of review

Power and Torque

192kW, 425Nm


Seven-speed dual clutch auto with EV mode

Fuel economy/CO2

2.2L/100km, 51g/km

Towing capacity

1,800kg (Braked)


2WD (Front)

Seating capacity


Luggage capacity/payload

460 litres (1,336 litres with rear seats down)

Safety systems

  • Adaptive Cruise Control with Pilot Assist
  • Blind Spot Information System with Steer Assist
  • Collision Warning
  • Cross Traffic Alert with Autobrake
  • Oncoming Lane Mitigation
  • Road Sign Information
  • Run-off Road Mitigation
  • Whiplash Injury Protection System

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