1.4.2022Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin review
Volvo's XC40 Recharge is the Swedish firm’s first pure-electric model to wear the badge. Packaged in a mid-sized SUV shape that’s full of Swedish style, the electric XC40 provides a practical basis for the all-electric Volvo.
Review by Chris Lilly
VOLVO XC40 RECHARGE TWIN: PERFORMANCE
The XC40 Recharge tested is the all-wheel drive Twin model, which features twin electric motors for a combined 300 kW (408 hp). There is a 150 kW electric motor on each wheel, giving both significant grip and power, allowing for a 0-62mph time of just 4.9 seconds. If this all sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because it shares a powertrain with the Polestar 2 dual motor model.
Considering Polestar is Volvo’s electrified performance brand, this should come as little surprise, but there are far worse ways to underpin your first EV. The XC40 Recharge is far more rapid than a family SUV has a right to be, but it’s easily accessible. In fact, the fast responses make it a better car than plug-in hybrid versions or those relying on an engine for power, and is well suited to running about town. Despite that, there is power to spare, so motorway trips are easily dealt with, and the pick-up and braking available on a rural road are surprisingly good for a relatively tall and practical car.
Yes, the XC40 Recharge isn’t going to win many “driver’s choice” awards. It lacks something dynamically against other electric cars, but it performs well against rivals, and provides the safe, reliable driving experience you would expect from a Volvo. That’s even considering the power on tap, which could see drivers arrive at a bend going faster than they might expect.
The XC40 calmly keeps body roll under check and maintains a relatively level line, proving adept at cornering at pace, if not masterful. It’s never going to be a performance car, but instead, the XC40 P8 Recharge offers a good balance between comfort and dynamism. It’s easy to pilot about tight spots in town, but will cruise on the motorway easily and holds its own on a twisty road. Nothing spectacular, but no chinks in the armour either.
Visually, the XC40 Recharge is almost identical to the conventional models… which is great. Volvo’s most compact SUV is a nicely designed thing, with plenty of clever styling details, and an understated but far-from-boring shape. The main difference on-lookers will notice is the blanked off grille at the front of the car. Otherwise, it’s largely identical, inside and out.
This means that buyers get a practical interior, with enough space for four adults comfortably, or two and a pair of child seats without issue. The boot space is good too, with the boxy shape of the XC40 lending itself to good levels of occupant and load space. It’s not huge inside, but then it’s not huge outside either, and this is Volvo’s compact SUV, so it must be kept in mind. That said, few will complain about the levels of space for people or luggage, and there are some handy cubby-holes dotted about - not least the front load area under the bonnet; handy for the charging cables or similar.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
Volvo’s interior design is well established, so expect no surprises here. But since it’s a good interior to work from, there should be no issues. The one unusual comment is that the electric XC40’s infotainment system seems a strange halfway-house between the standard XC40, and the Polestar 2’s Android-based system. It’s neither one thing nor the other, but works fine. The reason for comment is because if you have driven the Polestar and a conventional XC40, it will come as a surprise.
Controls in general are very good, though not of the most luxurious quality. This is in part because the XC40 is the entry level Volvo SUV, but when compared to the likes of the BMX iX3, it can’t quite compete either. Again, there is nothing wrong with the materials used, just something to note. The portrait screen works nicely with the sat-nav in particular, there is a digital driver’s instrument panel that can display a range of information, and there are plenty of nice touches about the cabin reflecting Volvo’s heritage and overall Swedishness.
VOLVO XC40 RECHARGE TWIN: RANGE & RUNNING COSTS
Driving range for the Volvo XC40 Recharge is officially rated at 262 miles on a charge, which is a good if not class leading figure - the model tested is rated at 257 miles. The likes of VW’s ID. 4 and Ford Mustang Mach-E half a class below can all top that figure, while shifting up to the likes of the Jaguar I-Pace and Audi e-tron may cost more, but also see more space and range. In fact, the XC40 does have some direct rivals, and with similar ranges too. There’s the Polestar 2 unsurprisingly, plus the Audi Q4 e-tron and Tesla’s Model Y.
In real-world conditions, the XC40 P8 Recharge was averaging 210 miles on a charge, but it must be said that this was over plenty of faster motorway miles, plus in cold winter conditions. I don’t doubt that another 10-15 miles would be added on both for more clement weather and for a greater mix of driving, taking a realistic average to around 230 miles on a charge, which isn’t bad for the size of car and gets close enough to the official rating.
As you might expect for a premium electric car, there are a fair few features to help maximise efficiency and therefore range. The brake energy recuperation can be switched between normal and strong, the latter allowing for one-pedal driving in most situations. It’s a very well weighted set-up, and is quickly learnt.
To charge the 78 kWh battery (75 kWh net), the Volvo can accept up to 150 kW DC using the CCS inlet, and up to 11 kW AC on Type 2 points. Rapid charging will take around half an hour on a 150+ kW unit, or just over one hour on a 50 kW point, while charging on a 7 kW home or public charger will take up to 12 hours.
The more powerful XC40 Recharge Twin range has a choice of two trim levels - Plus and Pro. Fitted as standard to all electric XC40 models are a 9-inch touchscreen centre console with Google Automotive Services, including Google Maps and Assistant, plus Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity. There is also wireless mobile phone charging, an eight-speaker stereo system, City Safety package, LED headlights, automatic lights and wipers, power tailgate, 12.3-inch digital instrument display, and keyless entry and start.
Included with the Pro trim tested were active headlights, 360-degree parking camera, heated steering wheel, heat pump, heated front and read seats, electric front seats, active driver assistance systems, 20-inch alloys, electric panoramic sunroof, and Harman Kardon premium sound system.
VOLVO XC40 RECHARGE TWIN: MODEL SUMMARY
The Volvo XC40 Recharge is an excellent electric car, offering pace, practicality, style, and a good combination of range and rapid charging. It doesn’t excel in any particular area, but has no weaknesses, and performs well across the board. It’s a sensible choice that also happens to look good and be desirable.
Model tested: Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin Pro
Body-style: Family SUV
Engine / CO2: Twin electric motors / 0 g/km
Trim grades: Plus and Pro
On-road price: Recharge Twin range from £48,300. Price as tested £53,050
Warranty: Three years / 60,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 4.5 Stars