Motoring Writer IAN LAMMING plugs into the latest XC40 by Volvo

THERE’S a cable in the boot; actually, hang on, there are two.

On the outer skin of this particular Volvo there are two fuel flaps too. Something is afoot but I’m not sure what – or should that be watt?

This XC40 is a model of many names – plug-in hybrid, Twin Engine, or Recharge. That explains the cables then, those thick yellow wires that I’ve just tidied away into a black bag. It also explains the doubling up of flaps, one being for the  unleaded petrol, the other a socket for the charger.

So it’s a plug-in hybrid coupling a lovely sounding 1.5 litre three cylinder turbo-charged petrol engine with a seamless electric motor.

But this is where I get confused. Our family car is a self-charging hybrid where both motors work together and the driver simply gets on with the job, enjoying the eerily quiet EV that helps the petrol engine boost its miles per gallon.

With the Volvo you get to plug it in to the mains, electric car style, and for your efforts you get the ability to do up to 28 miles on full electric. Thing is, if you can’t be bothered to do this, you can simply press a button on the touchscreen and the petrol engine charges the electric set-up instead. You can see why I tidied the cables away.

It defaults back to hybrid on start-up deciding to run on full electric when it’s slow moving and the petrol kicking in either when more power is needed or if there’s no charge left. When you require full power you get 180BHP and a rorty off-beat roar from the petrol motor and a whispering 82BHP top up from the electric. That’s more than enough poke and makes the Twin Engine absolutely brilliant on A roads when you need the extra oomph to overtake the slow-movers.

On paper the Twin Engine will do more than 100mpg. But in reality you are likely to get around the 40mpg mark in mixed motoring conditions, which is fine given the stonking performance.

Long-distance drives, especially when you aren’t in the mood, have always been the XC40’s forte and the hybrid is no exception. It is just so relaxing and comfortable to pilot with a fabulous, inviting and innovative interior which is amazingly equipped, especially in R Design Pro trim. This spec also provides the XC40 with 20ins alloys making it look the part and the chunky lines are as fresh and appealing as they day it was launched.

Inside, the iPad-esque central touchscreen dominates the dashboard and is intuitive and easy to use. Just swipe and dab for all the primary and secondary functions. The Harman Kardon hi-fi is brilliant.

XC40 is such an easy car to live with, enjoy and show off on the driveway. The Twin Engine offers an eco-variant than many buyers will love, which is great to drive and will also help their tax bills.

Fact file
XC40 T5 Twin Engine R-Design Pro
Engine: 1.5 three cylinder turbo petrol plus electric
Power: 180 + 82BHP
0-62mph: 7.0 secs
Top speed: 127mph
Combined miles per gallon: 37.7
Transmission: seven-speed automatic
CO2 g/km: 38

Price: £42,305.00