Volvo uses the Recharge moniker to refer to both plug-ins (PHEVs) and the full blown electric vehicles.
The all-electric XC40 is sold in Europe and select markets, this being Volvo's first fully-electric SUV with a 400km range.
Just last week, it declared its entire car line-up would be fully electric by 2030. It expects half of its global sales to be fully-electric cars by 2025 and the other half hybrid models.
“I am totally convinced there will no customers who really want to stay with a petrol engine,” Volvo chief executive Håkan Samuelsson had said. “We are convinced that an electric car is more attractive for customers.”
It's not just the Swedish car maker going all in on zero-emission models; others are doing the same as they face stricter CO2 emissions targets in Europe and China, as well as looming bans in some countries on fossil fuel vehicles.
On the local front, Volvo Car Malaysia is playing its part in executing the grand vision from Gothenburg.
The XC40 is one of Volvo's top selling models in the world. In fact, Volvo's bestsellers last month were all SUVs led by the XC40 followed by the XC60 and XC90.
So what are we to make of the XC40 Recharge T5 PHEV that rolled out of Volvo's Shah Alam plant? Yes, it's locally assembled, rounding off a local line-up with a CKD PHEV in each of the five models on sale here.
The design has become all too familiar from the 2018 days when we first drove the regular XC40 T5 in sporty R Design trim. The tall blocky stance of the SUV make it still look fashionable and attractive, exuding a tangible presence despite a compact footprint.
While the 5-seater PHEV is largely the same as the petrol variant, it features important differences. Like having a Li-ion battery in the floor, an electric motor, a smaller 1.5-litre, 3-cylinder engine, a charging flap in front, a Pure electric drive mode and a digital meter cluster that now shows battery charge and the dynamic interplay between engine and battery in Hybrid drive.
To highlight that this is a PHEV, the dual exhaust pipes are hidden away and the Recharge labels are inscribed in the C-pillar and tailgate.
Our opinion of the previous car carries over to the new one to a large extent.
The Recharge T5's packaging is smart and attractive. The cabin is roomy and seats in leather/nubuck textile combo are comfortable. We like the dash for its clean and functional look anchored by the 9-inch centre infotainment touchscreen. Everything is within easy reach.
The SUV is also notable for having in-cabin nooks and crannies. Front door pockets are large enought to slip a laptop in though we don't know of anyone who does that.
There are also plastic hooks - some call them "tapau" hooks - to hang small stuff in second row. The glove box even has a hook that you can rotate out for the same purpose.
Overall, a premium space to be in. And very safe as well with a long list of advanced safety features that would make your head spin.
Part of the lithium-ion battery pack runs inside the centre tunnel so boot space is not reduced. The T5 and T5 Recharge have the same generous boot volume of 460l that can be enlarged with rear seats down.
Hybrid is the default drive mode but there's also Pure, Off-road, Power and Individual for a varied driving experience.
In Pure mode, the fully charged 10.7kWh battery is good for 35km of brisk electric driving as opposed to the claimed 44km range. It's ideal for city driving or when stuck in traffic.
You can choose to hold the charge for later use while running on engine power.
It takes under six hours to fully charge up the battery at home via the supplied Type 2 cable with a 3-pin plug; using a fast charger will half the time. One niggle is that the SUV does't lock the charging flap or warn you if you have left it open.
We made it a point to charge the battery fully every day although the engine can also charge it on the move at the expense of higher fuel consumption. On returning the car after 5 days of use and 450km later, the fuel tank still had about 40% of petrol left. Fuel consumption came to 5 l/100km, which is great for a PHEV with plenty of punchy performance.
The Recharge T5 powertrain has a combined output of 262hp and 425Nm of torque, with 82hp and 160Nm of torque derived from the electric motor to give an instant boost.
Both work seamlessly and a soft whine from the motor is audible when it's in action. The petrol engine and the electric motor, mounted on the 7-speed dual clutch gearbox, drive the front wheels.
Together, they enable the Recharge T5 to hit 100kph in 7.3 seconds and go on to a top speed capped at 180kph in a Volvo move towards zero serious injuries and fatalities on the road.
At 1,875kg, the PHEV is 171kg heavier, and is 0.9s slower than the T5 as a result of the weighty battery. Suspension is much firmer to compensate for the weight and your butt will feel it in the way the SUV rides.
Body lean into corners is well managed.
The combined powertrain feels powerful and the gearbox is smooth and shifts quickly, affording a reasonable dose of fun on the road with some measure of steering feel.
Unlike the T5, the PHEV has no paddle shifters but manual shifting is still possible when gearshifter is in B mode. It's a little strange rowing the gears sideways but you get used to it. In B mode, the SUV brakes using the electric motor when the go pedal is released while also charging the hybrid battery.
All said and done, the T5 Recharge is a highly desirable SUV that comes with a high level of standard equipment. It takes over as the head of the class in the XC40 lineup. At RM242,000 for now, it's priced to draw attention, assuming the price point occupied by the T5, while making the older XC40 RM10,000 cheaper.
Volvo XC40 Recharge T5 R-Design
Engine: 1,477c, turbocharged, direct injection, Drive-E 3-cylinder petrol
Maximum power: 180hp at 5,800 rpm
Maximum torque: 265Nm from 1,500-3,000rpm
Electric motor: 10.7 kWh
Combined power: 262hp at 5,800 rpm
Combined torque: 425Nm from 1,500-3,000rpm
Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive
Transmission: 7-speed dual clutch (wet)
Features: 7 airbags, R-Design trim, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, sport pedals, Pilot Assist, Hill Start Assist, Hill Descent Control, Electronic Stability Control, Voice Control, adaptive cruise control, navigation, keyless entry & drive, Clean Zone system, rain sensor with tunnel detection, front and rear Park Assist, LED headlights with active high beam & cornering lights, front LED fog lights with cornering function, powered tailgate with hands-free function, Apple Carplay & Android Auto, wireless phone charging, 19-inch alloy wheels on Pirelli P Zero tyres, City Safety, Emergency Brake Assist, Front & Rear Collision Warning & Mitigation Support, Cross Traffic Alert with Autobrake, Lane Keeping Aid, Blind Spot Information System with Steer Assist, Run-Off Road Protection, Power Child Safety Lock, ISOFIX Attachment Point, and other Intellisafe safety features
Acceleration (0-100kph): 7.3s
Top speed: 180kph
Fuel consumption (combined): 5l/100km (official 2.2)
Kerb weight: 1,875kg
Boot capacity: 460l
Price: (OTR with SST exemption): RM241,997