VOLVO has a reputation for being at the forefront of new vehicle technology, so it comes as no surprise to find all their latest developments in the 2020 XC40 hybrid.

We tested the plug in XC40 T5 Twin Engine Inscription auto, which is a hybrid near the top of the range costing £41,255 on the road.

That compares with £36,935 for the same petrol engine only version (the XC40 range starts at £31,165 for the entry level spec D3) so you are paying a premium for that hybrid capability, but over time the cost will be offset by savings on fuel providing you keep the car for a few years. Also you can take comfort from knowing you are doing your bit to save the planet!

For that you get a mid-sized SUV which feels bigger on the inside with equipment and safety features far too long for me to list here.

However, the highlights are leather heated seats, power tailgate, power memory function driver’s seat, dual integrated exhaust pipes, special 19” diamond cut black alloy wheels, five driving modes and a somewhat quirky crystal gear knob!

That is on top of the standard XC40 kit list which includes cruise control, hill start assist and hill descent control, auto-fold heated door mirrors, auto lights and wipers, rear park assist, electronic climate control and a large iPad-style touch screen in the centre of the dashboard with swipe-able functions including DAB radio, sat-nav and voice control.

Then – because this is a Volvo – there are a whole suite of safety features across the range including ‘active bending headlights’, driver alert control with lane keeping, road sign info display, more airbags than I have seen in many more expensive cars and collision warning with full auto brakes on a really long list.

But our test car’s USP is that hybrid capability, which comes courtesy of an 82hp electric motor that can help the 2-litre petrol engine under hard acceleration or can run the car on electric only for around 25 miles on a full charge.

You can tell the car to run on petrol only on motorways or long journeys and it will then charge the batteries ready to switch back to electric on normal roads. Also I plugged it into a standard three pin socket and the batteries were fully charged after only three to four hours.

This means, in theory, you could spend most of your driving time using no petrol at all with a little forward planning and somewhere you can plug the car in at home.

Style-wise the latest XC40 has all the right SUV features – high ground clearance, large wheels and a powerful stance yet from the T-shaped front light signatures to the detailed tail-lights it’s every inch a Volvo.

Volvo say it is: “Uniquely Scandinavian and unmistakably urban, it’s built for city life. Bold, progressive design is the hallmark of the new Volvo XC40, and the cabin embodies forward-thinking Scandinavian style. An uncluttered layout lets you focus on the beautiful details, while the high seating position means you always feel in control.

“Carefully crafted and selected materials indulge the senses, and intuitive technology puts you in command.”

Most of which I cannot argue with as Volvo has become a cutting-edge premium brand in today’s motoring marketplace… a far cry from the days some of us can remember when a Volvo was just the boxy beige thing your geography teacher drove.

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By Motoring Editor Steve Howarth