Volvo XC40 Electric review
The Volvo XC40 Recharge P8 is an all-electric version of the popular Swedish SUV, promising 257 miles of range and the pace of a sports car.
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Other alternatives include the Mercedes EQA and Jaguar I-Pace. But while all of those are separate models in their own right, the XC40 Electric is like a high-tech barn conversion: externally it’s the same XC40 that’s been around for a few years, but it’s been gutted under the skin and fitted with all sorts of electric wizardry.
Visually, then, this isn’t an EV that shouts about its battery power, and it looks very similar to the petrol and diesel XC40. Its front grille is closed off with some body-coloured plastic and there’s a little less chrome, but that’s about as much as you’ll spot if you had them side-by-side.
It’s a similar story inside the electric Volvo XC40, but changes are a little more drastic than they first appear. The overall posh, typically Swedish minimalist approach is here but the door linings and carpets are made 97% from recycled plastic bottles to add to the XC40 Electric’s green credentials.
There’s a brand new infotainment system as well. It’s Android-based, and has Google’s Assistant and Maps features built-in. It’s definitely more up to date than the ageing system found in other Volvos, but some menus are still a little fiddly to use on the move for our liking.
The Volvo XC40 is already a bit of a cracker, and with this amount of power the electric version is a right giggle
Generally speaking, the battery-powered Volvo XC40 is just as good at lugging your family around as the version that’s powered by flammable liquid. Boot space does take a tiny bit of a hit because of where the batteries are placed, but in terms of passenger room it’s no less roomy.
Speaking of the battery, it’s a 78kWh unit — identical to that found in the Volvo spin-off Polestar 2 — paired up to two electric motors. There’s one at the front and back, with a total output of 408hp and 660Nm of torque, making this easily the fastest XC40 on sale.
With the same 0-60mph time as a Volkswagen Golf R it’s certainly rapid, and will definitely put a smile on the faces of your friends when you take them for a spin. However, this is no sports car – the handling is tidy enough, and four-wheel drive means loads of grip, but it’s not the sort of car that you’ll be seeking out twisting back roads in.
Volvo XC40 electric range and charging
According to Volvo, you’ll manage 257 miles between charges in the electric XC40. We found a figure of more like 210 miles in varied real-world driving is more realistic, which while not Tesla-beating is a decent enough figure.
You’ll be able to charge the XC40 Recharge P8 through a 150kW fast charger if you want to top it up quickly. This will take the battery from near-flat to 80% in 40 minutes.
Rather than use traditional trim levels, Volvo sells the electric XC40 as one variant with upgrade packs. That base model isn’t exactly cheap, though when you consider the performance on offer it’s not overpriced for what it is. Overall, if you’re looking for an upmarket electric family SUV with enough punch to see off most hot hatches, it’s a good buy.
There’s no sacrifice to passenger space in the XC40 Electric, but the boot is smaller than the standard model
The Volvo XC40 Electric offers as much room in the front and rear seats as the XC40 powered by a petrol or diesel engine.
That’s because, being quite a tall SUV compared to similar rivals, there is enough space underneath the floor to squeeze the necessary batteries without having to raise it up. In something like a Mercedes EQA, the floor is raised so much in the rear your legs are off the ground like you’re in a squatting position.
The XC40’s back seats have room for two six-footers – even if two more six-footers are sitting in the front – and you can have them heated for not much extra. Isofix child-seat mounting points come as standard, and the Volvo’s raised body means you don’t have to bend your back when you’re fitting the chair through the car’s reasonably sized back doors.
In the front, that lofty body means you can easily see over hedges and peer over lines of traffic from the comfort of the supportive seats.The XC40 feels like a big car then, but you should be able to get comfortable behind the wheel even if you’re small, because the driver’s seat adjusts for height and the steering wheel adjusts up and down, as well as in and out.
Another bonus is that both front seats get lumbar adjustment as standard, so you can ease achy backs by beefing up lower back support on long journeys.
You’ll be happy to hear that Volvo has been almost fanatical about providing a number of smaller interior storage spaces.
For example, the Volvo XC40’s front door pockets will swallow the usual bottles of water (several two-litre bottles, actually), but are also big enough for a laptop. To make that possible, large bass speakers in the doors have been replaced with high-frequency tweeters, with the bulk of the sound instead coming from speakers in the dashboard.
On top of that, the space under the front centre armrest is big enough for a small handbag or, if you want that full-blown minicab feel, a large box of tissues. There’re also a couple of cupholders between the two front seats, a card holder next to the steering wheel and a tray for your phone. Wireless charging is a cheap option across the range.
The Volvo XC40 Electric’s boot drops from 452 litres in the standard model to 413 litres because of the space required for the car’s battery pack. This is a reasonable figure, but it’s quite a bit smaller than the 520 litre maximum capacity offered in the Audi Q4 e-tron.
You’re unlikely to miss those extra litres too much though, because the XC40’s boot is well designed with a large opening, a square load bay that won’t snag awkward luggage and no boot lip – so heavy objects can be slid easily into place. A hands-free electric tailgate is standard on every model, too.
Fold the rear seats down (they only split 60/40, not the more desired 40/20/40) and you’ll open up a very useable space. It means the XC40 can carry a bike with both its wheels attached, or carry enough flat-pack furniture to fill a small living room.
If that’s not enough, there’s even a little 31-litre compartment under the bonnet where the car’s charging cables are usually stored.
There’s only one motor option for now, but with 408hp it’s a mighty one. The XC40 Electric is no sports car, though
Unlike alternatives from Audi and Mercedes, Volvo hasn’t launched the slower versions first with quicker ones coming later. Quite the opposite, in fact.
The XC40 Electric is currently only available with a dual motor system putting out no less than 408hp and 660Nm of torque. That’s quite a lot by any standards, and particularly so for a family-friendly smallish SUV.
You’ll find its turn of pace faintly startling at first, particularly if you’ve never driven a fast electric car before. Power delivery is instant from the off, which combined with four-wheel drive traction means it fires off the line pretty rapidly indeed. That it can match a Volkswagen Golf R’s 0-60mph time of 4.7 seconds despite weighing over two tonnes says it all.
Of course, being electric, it delivers its performance extremely smoothly and very quietly. There’s none of the sci-fi artificial noises pumped into the cabin like some EVs, which makes the XC40 Electric’s performance even more eerie.
The official quoted range of the electric XC40 is up to 260 miles. Although you might get near that if you’re really gentle and doing lots of regenerative braking, you’re more likely to see a range figure in the low 200s in real-world varied driving.
By comparison, the Audi Q4 E-tron can offer up to 316 miles (although it’s not in the same league in terms of performance as the Volvo) while the Lexus UX300e doesn’t even crack 200 miles officially.
The Volvo XC40 Electric is a relatively high-sided SUV, and a pretty heavy one at that. So it won’t come as a surprise to learn that, while it’s nearly as fast as a Porsche, it doesn’t corner like one.
Like all EVs the substantial weight penalty is due to the big battery pack underneath the floor. The Volvo’s adds more than half a tonne when compared to a normal petrol XC40, and even the world’s best engineers can’t disguise that fully.
On the whole it’s very composed and secure to drive. Being four-wheel drive there’s loads of grip, giving you the confidence to get on the power early to slingshot you out of a bend. The steering is quite light in Normal mode (it’s better in Sport) but it’s accurate enough, too.
Push the XC40 Electric too hard and the body leans over, while there’s never a true feeling of agility. It’s clear the car is more at home in relaxed driving, where it largely excels.
Even on 20 inch wheels the ride is comfortable, although the occasional large bump can jolt through the cabin. Wind and road noise aren’t intrusive, but a Jaguar I-Pace offers a better blend of handling enjoyment and general refinement.
The electric XC40’s interior is much the same as the regular petrol or diesel models, but features a more up-to-date infotainment system.
Volvo XC40 Electric colours