The Swedes have an uncanny knack for style. Their fashion sense is exceptional and undeniable. A recent article in the Scandinavia Standard lists the key elements to ‘Dress like a Swede‘ and ‘How Swedish Fashion Differs from other Scandinavian Countries‘.

The later lists the following key points about Swedish fashion:

  1. Undoubtedly, the Swedes’ embrace an eye for quality, stylish denim help them to stand out from the Scandinavian crowd.
  2. Their super-slick minimalism doesn’t contain the same irreverent playfulness you could expect to find in Denmark.
  3. Swedish fashion is more formal than Danish fashion
  4. Although it is highly functional, Swedish fashion doesn’t centre around technical clothing in the same capacity as Norwegian fashion.
  5. Swedish fashion is more known on the high-street than any other Scandinavian brand.

And it’s the same with the Volvo SUV range – the XC90, XC60 and the XC40 Recharge PHEV that we have been driving.

Eye for Quality

Goes without saying really. In recent years Volvo has become even more obsessed with the quality of every example of their brand that they put on our roads. In my opinion, the build quality of the XC40 Recharge PHEV is without peer in the small SUV class. Every panel – internal and external – fits with such precision such that the solid feel of the XC40 is akin to models with price-tags double and triple that of the $69,760 model you see here.

The paintwork shown here in Crystal White is matched perfectly to the high-gloss pillars above the waistline that extends to the roof where a panoramic glass sunroof invites the outdoors in.

Super Slick Minimalism

A feature of Volvo interiors for decades. The XC40 Recharge PHEV is very familiar surrounds for anyone who has driven an XC90 or XC60 – with highly economical use of space that isn’t in any way sparse.

You don’t get a centre console in the XC40 that resembles the cockpit of a helicopter. One large dial turns the volume up or down on the Harman Kardon Premium Sound system, and a 9″ vertical touch screen centre display houses the vast array of standard safety systems and a 2-Zone Climate Control system that includes a cooled glovebox and what Volvo calls a CleanZone Interior Air Quality System.

More Formal

Another design characteristic of all Volvo models today. Every model looks crisp and sharp. Therefore, the XC40 Recharge PHEV is not an SUV for the sake of it. It sits in a market segment that is highly competitive where more a more formal persona strikes a deeper connection with buyers.

Materials such as the Charcoal Nubuck Textile and Perforated Nappa seats with power adjustment for the driver and front passenger. The cutting edge aluminium door inlays, as well as the three-spoke R-Design steering wheel – all give the interior and the driving experience a more formal characteristic for the driver and passengers.

Similarly, the exterior is adorned with an equally impressive list of visually pleasing attributes; the R-Design glossy black integrated roof rails, colour coordinated door handles with Illumination and Puddle lights;
Dual integrated tail pipes; Wipers with integrated washers; LED Active Bending and High Beam Headlights with Headlight high-pressure cleaning.

Doesn’t Centre around the Technical

Unlike other European marques, the Volvo XC40 Recharge PHEV makes even the most futuristic of its features super easy to use. Recharging the car from the wall-socket is a twenty-second task. The XC40 will let you know as soon as it’s topped up its electrical supplies and is ready to use the 60kW electric motor to keep the fuel economy well down in the single digits darting around the city or out on the open road.

The 1477cc 3-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine drives the front wheels via a 7-speed Dual Clutch transmission. The front wheels are also connected to the electric power-assisted steering that is wonderfully light and precise.

There is event more evidence of Volvo’s passion for the efficient use of technology;

  • Power output 132kW @ 5800rpm (Petrol) + 60kW @ 4000rpm (Electric Motor)
  • Max torque 265Nm (Petrol) + 160Nm (Electric Motor)
  • 0-100km/h 7.3 seconds
  • Top speed 205 km/h
  • Fuel consumption 2.2 L/100km (Combined)
  • CO2 emissions 50 g/km
  • Fuel tank 48 litres
  • Weight 1760 kg

More Known on the High Street

A trait that has befallen many brands today. They just don’t stand out on the High Street.

This will never happen with any Volvo – especially the XC40 Recharge PHEV. It stands out a mile – deliriously happy in its own skin. There are the 20″ 5-Double Spoke Matt Black Diamond Cut Alloy Wheels. The artfully slotted R-Design grill that houses the distinctive Volvo logo – the ancient chemical symbol for iron. The word Volvo is actually Latin for “I roll” which reflects both a personal connection and suggestion of automobile movement.

In other words, the Volvo XC40 Recharge PHEV oozes style, quality, minimalism, and street-cred in a way that very few other cars today can.


On The Road

Like all Volvos, the XC40 Recharge PHEV is always steady on its feet and surefooted in any conditions. The driving experience of the XC40 is quite different from the larger models that I’ve driven – the XC60 T8 Polestar and the V60 T5 Inscription. At just 4.425m long and 1.910m tall it’s packaged perfectly for any urban environment.

The four driving modes allow seamless transitions to the best use of the drivetrain and suspension to suit the conditions; Eco, Comfort, Off Road and Dynamic for high performance.

Combined with these customisable settings, the passive and active safety systems equally get your attention.

The Pedestrian, Vehicle, Large Animals and Cyclist Detection system is very useful however it is prone to alerting you about a car or bus parked on the inside of a tight bend in the road. The active Steering Support like all systems is sometimes a little intrusive but on the open road or freeway, it is a very welcome co-driver aid. Blind Spot Information (BLIS) with Cross-Traffic Alert should be fitted to every vehicle – it is a game-changer. In addition, Frontal Airbags, Side Impact Protection System (SIPS) with airbags in front seats, Inflatable Curtains and Whiplash Protection System; Driver’s knee airbag all combine the Quality and Minimalism style attributes of any Swede.

Other very welcome systems include Apple Car Play and Android Auto as well as heated seats front and rear and wireless charging for your smartphone. The Park Pilot Assist fitted to our test vehicle completely blows your mind when it parks the XC40 Recharge PHEV perfectly – every time.

In conclusion, the XC40 Recharge PHEV is a very pleasing car to drive. It will take you up to 45km on the electric motor alone and when that’s exhausted the combination of the electric and petrol motor will whisk you along using only 2.2-2.4 l/100km – all the while looking super stylish in what is one of the highest quality small SUVs your can buy.

Price as tested: $69,760

Options fitted: Metallic Paint ($1,150); Versatility Pack: Load Protection Net, Power Folding Headrest Rear ($230); Climate Pack: Heated Front Seat, Heated Windscreen Washers, Heated Steering Wheel ($700); 360 Camera ($990); Tinted Rear windows ($700); Heated Rear Seat ($350); Park Assist Pilot ($650).