Volvo XC40 Recharge Starting Price: €64,314
Price as tested: €68,258
Stylish looks, serious performance, decent interior space, all-wheel-drive capability.
Needs a much cheaper model in the line-up, the electric range is nothing special.
WHAT IS IT?
The XC40 is Volvo’s smallest SUV, but all things are relative, as it’s not a particularly small car. It goes up against other premium models such as the Audi Q3, BMW X1/X2 and the Mercedes GLA. We’ve been fans of it from the start for its stylish looks and spacious interior. Now there’s an all-electric model to consider, alongside the existing petrol and plug-in hybrid versions – there are no diesel XC40s anymore.
Volvo sells the electric and plug-in hybrid versions under its ‘Recharge’ banner. Here we’re testing the absolute top-of-the-range electric model, called the XC40 Recharge Twin Pro, and it costs over €68,000. For now, there is just one electric powertrain offered and, as the name suggests, it features two electric motors – one for the front wheels and another for the rear. They produce a lot of power, which we’ll come to below.
Other than that, the XC40 gets a 75kWh (usable) lithium-ion battery pack and an official range between charges of 418 kilometres. On rapid chargers, it can be recharged at up to 150kW, while the onboard charger allows AC charging up to 7.4kW on single-phase and 11kW on three-phase connections.
HOW ABOUT THE LOOKS?
There’s not a huge amount to differentiate the electric XC40 from its petrol and hybrid brethren. Upfront, the electric model gets a blanked-off grille, which is finished in body colour so, if you’ve gone for one of the braver hues, it really stands out. Stick with the default black or grey and it’ll hardly be noticed. At the back, there are no exhaust pipes, obviously.
The electric versions of the XC40 are well-specified as standard, wearing stylish 19-inch wheels at a minimum, and they all get roof rails, too, emphasising their SUV-ness. A neat feature is the embossed ‘Recharge’ logo in the D-pillar. The Pro version gets 20-inch rims and a panoramic glass roof, which add a little more sparkle to the design.
It’s over three years since the XC40 was first launched and it still looks fresh today.
WHAT IS THE INSIDE LIKE?
There’s no doubt about the quality of the XC40’s interior, but it is ageing. That’s despite the presence of an upright touchscreen, which runs the Google Automotive OS. It’s super-quick to respond to input and ridiculously easy to use, though our test car couldn’t get a GPS signal when driving around Dublin for some reason. We’ll put that down to a one-off issue unless we hear more.
The seats are comfortable, and they feature the Swedish flag stitched into the side, which is a nice touch. Otherwise, it feels a little plain inside, possibly because of the lack of driving mode switches, or even a start-stop button. You just sit in – with the key on your person – and select drive with the lever in the centre console. It’s almost too easy.
Impressively, the boot of the electric model is only a few litres short of the capacity accommodated in the other all-wheel-drive variants of the XC40, and it’s well-shaped. The rear seats split and fold down to expand the space, as you’d hope, while there’s loads of room in the back for two adults to stretch out. The middle seat occupant has to contend with quite a chunky transmission tunnel. Nonetheless, this could be well-suited to a two-child family, even if they are in bulky car seats. There are ISOFIX mounting points.
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO DRIVE?
Fast, in a word. Ludicrously fast. The average motorist just doesn’t need 408PS and 660Nm of torque. It belies its safe Volvo image by out-sprinting many serious performance cars, which is a little odd. Don’t get me wrong: it’s fun, but it does seem a little pointless.
The suspension is a tad on the firm side, probably exacerbated by the larger wheels of the Pro model, but we’d stop short of calling this an uncomfortable car. It’s refined for the most part, too, though the wide tyres cause a lot of road noise on some surfaces once up to motorway speed.
Despite the firm chassis settings and the all-wheel drive, this XC40 isn’t a particularly interesting car in the corners, though it is brilliant at deploying all its power thanks to the all-wheel drive, even in really wet conditions. It’s probably best-suited to a country that gets lots of snow every year.
Dig into the menu system and you’ll find a setting for ‘one-pedal’ driving, which works a treat, using brake energy regeneration to slow the car and charge the battery at the same time – meaning you barely have to touch the brake pedal itself if you’re paying attention.
Against an official energy consumption figure of 23kWh/100km, we saw closer to 30kWh/100km even without a long motorway drive. This would suggest that the car may not get close to its official range unless it’s driven very efficiently at low speeds.
WHICH ONE SHOULD I BUY?
Right now, there are only two versions of the electric XC40 to choose from. The Recharge Plus costs €64,314 and the Recharge Pro, as tested, is €68,258. The latter is undoubtedly more stylish, but the cheaper car is no ugly duckling and, given that this pricing puts the XC40 way above the likes of the Skoda Enyaq and Volkswagen ID.4 already, perhaps it would be prudent to stick to that. We are hoping that Volvo, in time, releases a two-wheel-drive model with about 200hp and at a much lower price.
IS IT SAFE?
Volvo has an unparalleled reputation for safety, but it’s good that the Euro NCAP backed that up with a five-star rating for the XC40. Adult occupant protection was rated at 97 per cent, child occupant at 87 per cent, ‘Safety Assist’ at 76 per cent and even the mark for ‘Vulnerable Road Users’ was a commendable 71 per cent. The electric model has not been tested by Euro NCAP, but we’d be confident that it’s just as safe.
VERDICT: Looks great inside and out, is crazy fast, but it’s too expensive for the marketplace right now.
Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin Pro
Engine: two electric motors
0-100km/h: 4.9 seconds
Top Speed: 180 km/h
Transmission: 1-speed automatic
Co2: 0 g/km
Annual Motor Tax: €120
Luggage Capacity: 452-litres with the seats up, which can extend out to 1,328-litres with the rear seats folded.
Price as tested: €68,258
AA Ireland: August 2021 For more information: https://www.volvocars.com/ie