Volvo C40 Recharge review

Volvo C40 Recharge

Volvo is doing its bit to save the planet, and it has an ambitious plan for a zero emissions future.

By 2025, 50% of its global sales will consist of fully electric cars. By 2030, it aims to sell only EVs before turning “climate neutral” 10 years later.

The Swedish car maker’s latest model, the C40 Recharge, is a case in point. It’s electric-only (there will be no petrol or hybrid variants) and it’s manufactured using a variety of sustainable materials.

Volvo C40 Recharge

For instance, the carpets are made from 71 recycled plastic PET bottles, and thanks to renewable wool fibres, it’s the first Volvo to feature leather-free upholstery.

You could even say the car itself has something of a recycled feel to it because it shares its EV powertrain and much of its body with the XC40 – Volvo’s big-selling SUV.

Unlike its sibling, it’s sleeker with a lower roof line and steeply-raked rear window, while the front end introduces a new face for electric Volvos. Here, the signature Thor’s Hammer headlights are augmented with pixel technology designed to avoid dazzling other road users.

Volvo C40 Recharge

It’s also fitted with the latest version of Volvo’s infotainment system, jointly developed with Google and based on the Android operating system.

So now there’s access to Google Play apps and services like Google Assistant and Google Maps. It’s also capable of over-the-air updates, which means the car is constantly kept up to speed with the latest software.

The voice commands (prompted by “Hey Google”) usefully cut down on the swiping, pinching and scrolling otherwise needed to control the features within 9.0-inch central touchscreen.

Volvo C40 Recharge

C is for Crossover and Volvo claims the C40 Recharge provides buyers with the high seating position that its owners prefer. The reality is that there’s very little difference between the siblings apart from the design.

And I don’t mean that in a bad way because the pure electric XC40 Recharge is a fantastic package, offering the combination of style, practicality, performance and a decent range of up to 259 miles.

The C40’s lower roof line looks smarter and makes it more aerodynamic, resulting in a higher range of 273 miles.

It also differs from other models in the Volvo range because it can only be bought online and it’s also available with a ‘Care by Volvo’ package (monthly subscription from £729) which offers a warranty, servicing and roadside assistance, as well as insurance and home charging options where available.

Volvo C40 Recharge

At launch there’s just one version of the C40 Recharge available with an eye-watering ticket price of £57,400, though in time we can expect other more affordable specs.

Like the XC40 Recharge, the C40 has twin electric motors – one on the front and one on the rear axle – and is powered by a 78kWh battery that can be fast-charged from 10 to 80% in about 40 minutes (via a 150kW rapid charger).

Inside the factory

We were given a quick tour of Volvo’s impressive state-of-the-art plant at Ghent in Belgium, where the C40 is assembled on the same production line as the XC40 and V60 estate.

Volvo C40 Recharge production line in Ghent, Belgium

Volvo is increasing EV capacity at the facility to 135,000 cars per year, and already expects more than half of the plant’s production volume in 2022 to consist of fully electric cars.

On the road, the C40 offers the same combination of blistering performance and polished road manners as the XC40 Recharge.

Developing a combined 402hp, it can sprint from 0-62mph in just 4.7 seconds, which is almost supercar fast. Plant your right foot on an A road and before you know it, you’re travelling at the legal limit.

Volvo C40 Recharge

The ride is smooth and refined, the light steering is sharp and it handles well for a relatively heavy crossover.

There’s surprisingly good body control in faster, more challenging corners and plenty of traction thanks to all-wheel drive.

The brakes are progressive, which is relatively rare in EVs, and the regenerative braking system (which recovers kinetic energy otherwise lost during braking to recharge the battery) works well, especially in one-pedal mode where a simple lift off the accelerator is usually enough to slow the car down without using the brakes.

Volvo C40 Recharge

Ultimately, the C40 is a smoothie, at its best cruising. And as most EV drivers will tell you, the challenge of squeezing as much range as possible out of the battery is irresistible, so apart from the odd burst of instant-torque acceleration, it’s more about economical driving.

I have a few criticisms. I would have liked some drive modes (no Sport or Normal – just one-pedal or not). And even though the C40 Recharge ticks lots of eco-friendly boxes, the lack of leather and Scandi chic wood veneers made the interior less special to me.

The lower roofline also results in a slight headroom penalty for rear passengers six-foot or over, while the rear window itself is more post box than panoramic, so the view behind is on the challenging side.

Volvo C40 Recharge

The C40 has less boot space than the XC40 Recharge, but there’s still a useful 413 litres of luggage capacity (down from 452 litres), or a total of 1,205 litres if you flip the 60/40 split rear bench (1,328 litres). That said, rear passenger legroom is generous.

Up front there’s a 31-litre compartment under the bonnet – ideal for storing charging cables. There are also plenty of storage spaces scattered inside the cabin for phones, water bottles and other clutter.

Needless to say, like all Volvos, the C40 is packed with the latest safety and driver assistance tech as standard, including lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear-cross traffic alert, autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and a 360-degree parking camera which makes it easier to get in and out of tight spaces.

However, at this price the C40 is up against tough EV competition – everything from the Hyundai Kona Electric, Skoda Enyaq and Kia e-Niro up to the Ford Mustang Mach-E, Polestar 2, Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron and Mercedes EQA.

Verdict: The stylish new Volvo C40 Recharge is a class act, blending performance, practicality and refinement with a good EV range and extensive safety features. At launch, the sole top-of-the-range model is on the expensive side, but in time the C40 will become more attainable as other variants are offered.

Volvo Cars UK

MG5 EV review

MG5 EV

We test the affordable electric estate that’s proving to be a surprise sales success

MG may not be the iconic British sports car maker that it once was, but it’s thriving as a bargain brand under Chinese ownership.

In September 2021 MG Motor UK achieved its highest ever monthly sales in the UK, passing 5,000 registrations for the first time ever with sales up 61.2% year-on-year.

Much of the success was driven by MG’s pure electric models, the ZS and MG5. And even though it was only launched in late 2020, the MG5 was the seventh best-selling pure EV in the UK in September.

MG5 EV

As an all-electric estate, the MG5 currently occupies a unique niche in the zero emissions market.

It may not be the most handsome load-lugger on the market, but just like its crossover-styled sibling, the ZS, it’s a spacious, seriously affordable family car.

Priced from £25,095 (after the Government’s £2,500 plug-in grant) it’s available with two battery sizes (52.5kWh and 61.1kWh), giving a claimed range of 214 and 250 miles respectively. Both have a 115kW (154bhp) electric motor.

MG5 EV

And while the MG5’s range isn’t nudging the 300-mile range mark, it’s way ahead of many similarly priced cars, some of which are unable to reach 150 miles on a single charge (eg MINI Electric, Honda E and Mazda MX-30).

The MG5 sits much lower than most EVs, with the water-cooled battery pack integrated into the car’s chassis, giving it a surprisingly sleek profile..

Some may find it slightly nondescript from the front, but plenty of buyers have no problem with its styling judging by the amount I’ve seen on the roads in and around London.

MG5 EV

It’s perfectly acceptable inside too, if slightly dated, but there’s no debate over the space on offer. The large boot, accessed via a wide tailgate opening, delivers 464 litres of capacity with the rear seats up and load cover in place, expanding to an impressive 578 litres with the load cover retracted. Fold the 60:40 rear seat and the load capacity increases to a mighty 1,456 litres.

Additionally, there’s also plenty of room inside for up to five passengers, with two ISOFIX child-seat mounting points in the back.

The interior design isn’t flash and there’s no shortage of hard plastic surfaces, but it’s well equipped with an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen (inc Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) as standard, plus automatic headlights, cruise control, 16-inch alloy wheels and air-conditioning. Move up a grade and you get leather-style upholstery, heated front seats, keyless entry, navigation and electrically folding and heated door mirrors.

MG5 EV

The flagship ‘long range’ version (starting at just £26,495) gets MG Pilot as standard, featuring a selection of safety and driver assistance goodies, including Active Emergency Braking, Lane Keep Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Traffic Jam Assist, Intelligent High Beam Assist and Intelligent Speed Limit Assist.

I tested the entry-level 214-mile range MG5 EV. And with a 0-60mph time of 7.3 seconds, it’s no slouch, so you’ll surprise many a hot hatch driver on the road.

It can be fully charged overnight at home or to 80% at a 50kW fast charger in 50 minutes, or in 40 minutes via a 100kW rapid charger.

MG5 EV

Needless to say, there’s no engine noise, and the MG5 does a good job of keeping the outside world outside with little tyre, traffic and wind noise penetrating the cabin.

However, it’s no match for a conventionally-powered estate like a Ford Focus in the handling department. Thanks to its soft suspension, it will lean in fast corners and even become a little unsettled if pushed hard on challenging country roads.

But then, it isn’t meant to compete with the Tourings and Avants of this world – the MG5 is all about value for money.

MG5 EV

It’s also easy to drive and comfortable – just select ‘D’ on the dinky dial in the centre console and away you go. The steering is light too, making town driving a doddle, while long journeys are effortless and relaxing.

There’s a choice of Eco, Normal and Sport, but I found that Eco was just fine. There are also three levels of regenerative braking to choose from, so adding the odd mile when coasting, braking or on downhill stretches is very possible.

I didn’t quite manage the claimed range, but I’d say 180-190 is realistic, which is more than enough for most drivers.

MG5 EV

As with all MG models, there’s peace of mind too because it comes with a generous seven-year/80,000-mile warranty.

Verdict: The MG5 EV may not be the sexiest estate car on the market today, but it does offer honest, practical, electric motoring at an affordable price.

MG Motor UK

Volvo XC60 review

Volvo XC60 review

We drive the updated version of this Swedish premium mid-sized SUV

It’s been a while since I’ve driven an XC60. To be exact, it was 2017 when the current second-generation model was launched.

A lot has changed since then for Volvo, which has just enjoyed record sales in the first half of 2021, driven by demand for its electrified cars.

Every Volvo model currently on sale has some form of electrification, whether it’s mild hybrid, plug-in hybrid or all-electric.

Volvo XC60 review

Globally the ‘Recharge’ range of fully electric and plug-in hybrids account for 24.6% of sales and by 2030 Volvo is aiming to have a 100% pure electric line-up.

And the XC60 is a popular as ever. In fact, in the first half of 2021, it was the 10th biggest-selling plug-in hybrid on sale in the UK.

Despite its success, Volvo has decided to treat the XC60 to a refresh. It would be an exaggeration to say it’s radical, but then ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.

Volvo XC60 review

Externally there’s a revamped front grille, sportier bumpers at the front and rear, hidden rear exhaust pipes, plus new colour choices and alloy wheel options.

Inside, there are improved graphics in the driver’s digital display, but the big change is that the large centre infotainment touchscreen is now powered by the brand’s Android-based software instead of the Sensus system of the past.

So now there’s access to Google Play apps and services like Google Assistant and Google Maps. It’s also capable of over-the-air updates, which means the car is constantly kept up to speed with the latest software. Volvo has also upped the XC60’s driver assistance and safety tech.

Volvo XC60 review

Starting from £42,485, the range consists of a mix of mild hybrids (petrol and diesel) badged B4, B5 or B6. There are also plug-in hybrids (T6 or T8). All versions have varying outputs and four-wheel drive, except the B5 petrol which is available with front or AWD.

In a nutshell, the mild-hybrid system utilises a small 48-volt battery to help reduce emissions and improve fuel consumption, while the PHEVs have a slightly larger 11.6kWh high-voltage battery, which also enables the car to travel up to 32 miles on electric power alone when fully charged.

I sampled the B6 (300hp) mild hybrid petrol, plus the T6 (340hp) and the T8 (390hp) plug-in hybrids which all have a four-cylinder 2.0-litre turbo engine in various stats of tune at their heart and a sweet-shifting eight-speed automatic gearbox.

Volvo XC60 review

All three can be recommended, though my choice would be the T6, because it offers the best balance between power and economy. However, to get maximum benefit it’s best to have a charger at home or work..

The B6 does the job, especially if you are unable to plug in at home, but the engine is a little harsher when it’s worked hard, while claimed fuel economy of 30-34mpg and CO2 emissions of 190-213g/km are not hugely impressive these days.

The T8 is effortlessly fast and sounds meaty in Power drive mode, but ultimately the cheaper T6 will do just fine.

Volvo XC60 review

Offering a potential 113mpg (if you keep your battery charged up and your journeys are modest) and CO2 emissions as low as 55g/km, like the T8, the T6 also delivers significant tax savings for business users.

If your commute is short or you just use your XC60 locally, your journeys to the petrol stations could be rare because a good deal of your motoring could be spent in 100% electric mode. On longer trips, we’d expect economy to be north of 50mpg.

In Hybrid mode the switch between electric and petrol propulsion is almost seamless, and there’s plenty of power (0-60mph in just 5.6 seconds).

Volvo XC60 review

Unless really pushed, the engine is refined and the ride comfortable, while grip is superb. The XC60 feels surprisingly agile for its size and weight, while more spirited drivers will find that body roll is well controlled on more challenging roads.

As before, there’s a real quality feel inside the cabin and plenty of Scandi chic if you choose the lighter wood trim options.

You sit high up, so visibility is excellent and there’s plenty of space in the back for passengers. Luggage capacity is a useful 468 litres, or 1,395 litres with the rear seats folded.

Volvo XC60 review

The battery can be recharged from home in as little as two and a half hours. There’s also regenerative braking which recovers kinetic energy otherwise lost during braking in order to reduce fuel consumption and emissions.

You can also boost the process going down hills, for instance, by flicking the gearshift to B mode.

Finally, a special mention for the Google Assistant feature, first seen in the XC40 Recharge. Simply say “Hey Google” to get started and ask it to change radio channel, call a contact or set a new destination – all without taking your hands off the wheel or your eyes off the road. 

Verdict: Handsome, practical, classy, comfortable and sporting the latest safety and infotainment tech, the updated Volvo XC60 mid-sized SUV is better than ever.

Volvo Cars UK

Skoda Enyaq iV review

Skoda Enyaq iV

Skoda’s first purpose-built electric vehicle is a revelation. In short, the Enyaq iV is the embodiment of the company’s winning blend of space, comfort, economy and value for money.

Closely related to its Volkswagen Group cousin, the ID.4, the Enyaq iV is a big SUV available with either a 62kWh or 82kWh battery, offering claimed ranges of between 256-331 miles.

A tad bigger and better looking than the ID.4, its distinctive design delivers serious road presence and excellent practicality.

Skoda Enyaq iV

Awarded a maximum five stars in Euro NCAP’s vigorous new testing regime, it’s also one of the safest cars on the road.

Autonomous emergency braking (AEB), road-sign recognition, lane-keep assist and cruise control are fitted as standard, along with Isofix points front and rear.

The Enyaq iV 60 uses a 62kWh battery and a 178bhp electric motor, with power fed to the rear wheels, resulting in a 0-62mph time of 8.8 seconds and up to 256 miles.

Skoda Enyaq iV

The Enyaq iV 80 has an 82kWh battery and 201bhp electric motor, again driving the rear wheels (331-mile range and 0-62mph in 8.7 seconds), while the four-wheel-drive ’80x’ has two electric motors, delivering 261bhp of power, a 6.9-second 0-62mph time and a range of 303 miles.

Priced from £32,010 (including the £2,500 Government EV grant), it represents fantastic value for money. Inside, there’s bags of room for all the family, lots of clever small storage spaces and a 585-litre boot, expanding to 1,710 litres with the rear seats folded.

There are six different interior trims to choose from, including recycled cloth. Up front it’s minimalist with few buttons. The large touchscreen infotainment display is less fiddly than the ID.4’s and there are piano-style buttons below to shortcut the key functions.

Skoda Enyaq iV

Despite its large dimensions and two-tonne weight, our Skoda Enyaq iV 80 test car didn’t feel like a handful on the road at all.

In fact, it’s more agile than you may expect, no doubt helped by its low-slung batteries and excellent weight distribution.

Effortlessly fast and gloriously refined, the ride is comfortable and there’s little body roll in more challenging corners.

Skoda Enyaq iV

The steering is accurate and nicely weighted, meaning that tighter manoeuvres are easier than you might think. And for a rear-wheel drive car, there’s an impressive amount of grip.

In other words, it is possible to have fun in an Enyaq, especially in Sport mode which gives maximum acceleration and performance. However, on longer cruises, Eco will do just fine as you endeavour to squeeze as many miles out of the battery pack as possible.

Skoda Enyaq iV

Like all EVs, it will charge on the move via regenerative braking (recovering energy otherwise wasted when slowing down or coasting). It can also be charged overnight at home, while a 10-80% charge using a 100kW rapid charger takes just over 30 minutes.

As with all EVs, real-world range will depend on many factors, including the outside temperature and driving style, but we’d say around 275 miles is quite possible in everyday driving.

Verdict: Spacious, comfortable, competitively-priced, well built and a doddle to drive, the all-new Skoda Enyaq iV is a game-changing electric family SUV.

Skoda UK

Skoda Enyaq iV

Volkswagen Tiguan R review

Volkswagen Tiguan R review

When you’re driving an ever-increasing amount of hybrid and electric vehicles, it’s refreshing to review a car with no eco pretensions – just a good, old-school car aimed at petrolheads.

To be exact, the Tiguan R is the performance version of Volkswagen’s mid-sized SUV that’s attractive, practical, well-equipped, fully connected and apparently a hit on the school run.

Presumably, VW wants to repeat the success of the Golf R, which is still a benchmark for hot hatches. If so, it very nearly succeeds because the Tiguan has never been so engaging to drive.

https://www.volkswagen.co.uk/

Under the bonnet is a potent version of Volkswagen’s venerable 2.0-litre petrol turbo engine, here making 316bhp and 310lb ft, combined with four-wheel drive.

It’s suitably swift with a 0-62mph time of just 4.9 seconds, while top speed is an electronically limited 155mph.

As you’d expect, the Tiguan’s eco credentials aren’t quite so hot. Fuel consumption is 28.5 mpg, while CO2 emissions are up to 225g/km.

Volkswagen Tiguan R Review

If you behave yourself behind the wheel, then 30mpg is possible, but it’s hard to resist having fun in the R, while ‘Sport’ as the default drive mode doesn’t help!

So, what do you get for your £46,220? For starters, it’s available in trademark Lapiz Blue paint (unique to R models).

Plus, it comes as standard with 21-inch alloy wheels, sportier front and rear bumpers, matte chrome door mirror covers, four epic exhaust tips, LED headlights and keyless entry.

Volkswagen Tiguan R Review

Inside, there are supportive heated sports seats, a new steering wheel with gear-shift paddles, multi-coloured mood lighting, R badging and an ‘R’ mode button which lets you quickly engage the sportiest driving mode without having to access the infotainment screen (which sadly incorporates the new touch sensitive climate control panel first seen on the latest Golf).

Other than that, it’s much the same as a regular Tiguan, which means it’s generously equipped, spacious front and back, plus a healthy 615 litres of storage capacity (1,655 with the rear seats folded).

Volkswagen Tiguan R Review

Set off and the first thing you notice is the engine note, which is augmented via the audio system. It certainly sounds the part in the faster drive modes, but if you’re not a fan of fake noise, then there is a setting to switch it to ‘Pure’.

Slightly lower and stiffer than a regular Tiguan, it feels planted on the road, hides its size well and body lean is kept to a minimum in faster corners.

Volkswagen Tiguan R Review

The engine is equally impressive. Responsive and smooth with plenty of torque, it’s possible to squeeze out some entertaining pops and crackles when down-changing in the faster drive modes (as well as the road-going Comfort, Sport, Race and Individual modes, there are also Off-Road and Off-Road Individual modes).

The DSG box is as efficient as ever, pumping through the gears, while the new torque vectoring differential (nicked from the Golf R) helps the four-wheel drive system send power to the wheels that have the most grip, enabling you to make tighter turns at speed.

Volkswagen Tiguan R Review

In fact, grip and traction on more challenging roads is superb, while the steering is light and accurate.

Ultimately, it’s not as nimble and engaging as a Golf R, but Volkswagen has made a great attempt to add some dynamism to the Tiguan SUV – its biggest global seller.

Verdict: The Volkswagen Tiguan R is a mid-sized family crossover with serious attitude, boasting badge appeal, performance and practicality. If you can live with the ticket price and relatively high running costs, it should definitely be on your hot SUV shortlist.

Volkswagen UK

Volkswagen Tiguan R Review