Minimum Fuss Family EV

This is Volvo’s first all-wheel drive fully electric car, the EV version of the Volvo XC40 medium-sized family SUV that’s been around since 2018. The XC40 is available with other powertrains including a mild hybrid and full plug-in hybrid too. This electric XC40 Recharge was introduced in 2020, and while it may have been adapted to run as an electric car, rather than originating as an EV, it is worth mentioning that it shares its platform with Polestar 2 – which was launched as a fully electric car. 

‘Recharge’ by the way is Volvo’s ‘electrified’ sub-brand, but beware some confusion, because the plug-in hybrid is also badged ‘Recharged’. So let’s give this particular car it’s full name – the XC40 Recharge P8 Twin Pro AWD. Prices start from £44k, which is about £5k more than the Plug-in hybrid and £10k more than the mild hybrid. Plus when you spec it up, you’ll probably spend over £50k.

It gets a 78kWh lithium-ion battery in the floor and two electric motors, one on each axle – hence the ‘Twin Pro’. You get an equivalent of 408bhp and 660Nm of torque, which is impressive for a family SUV, and catapults this car to 62mph from rest in just 4.9 seconds, eventually topping out at 112mph, despite weighing over 2000kg, about 500kg more than a non-electrified version. 

The claimed range is 256 miles with 80 percent charge available in 40 minutes with a 150kW rapid charger. Interestingly, the on-board computer actually gives you a maximum, minimum and average available range. This alerts you to what might be possible, if you drive economically. Indeed, it even tells you how you’re driving, breaking down where the energy is being consumed. 

This certainly serves to reduced anxiety on this car, which is good because you’ll find yourself exploiting the surprisingly significance performance on-hand for this class of car. It’s enough to shock passengers, and the security of all-wheel drive makes sure that there is ample grip to deploy that torque safely. There are no driving modes except for the ability to put more heft into the steering, which this driver always appreciates, and activate the one-pedal mode; not something every driver adapts too, but I find very usable, although there is a little stickiness at very low manoeuvring speeds. 

By no means a sports car, it’s enjoyable enough with decent dynamics, linear and reassuring brakes and a reasonable ride, despite the rigidity of the battery-packed floor pan. Visibility is slightly restricted at the back due to the wide C-pillars and the upwards kink in the door panel. Having said that, in practice it’s not too much of an issue as the large door mirrors and blind-spot alerts, along with the excellent high resolution 360-degree birds eye view all-round camera. 

There’s ample room in the front and the controls and interface will be familiar to Volvo owners. The instrument panel is entirely digital, and the centre infotainment screen is similar to an Android operating system, and you can even shout ‘hey Google’ to get assistance with various functions, including asking how much range you have left! The front seat was oddly hard for my lanky six-foot plus frame to get comfortable in, unusual because Volvo normally has the best seats in the business, though it’s supportive and with the manufacturer renowned for its safety, designed to protect you including from whiplash injury. 

In the rear there is enough space for me to sit behind myself, so perfectly adequate for normal-sized adults and for children, who will also be delighted by twin USB-C plugs and vents in the back, not to mention the pockets on the sides of the seat bench next to the door. Luggage space appears unaffected by the addition of batteries and an electric drivetrain, although there seems to be some encroachment of space in the underfloor compartment, however there is some recompense in the form of a frunk or front boot, which provides a little extra space for a shopping back. The XC40 is very much designed with ease-of-use in mind at its forefront. Automatic locking and unlocking complement the ‘buttock-activated’ start system, what I mean is that there is no start button, as soon as you sit in the driver’s seat, it’s ready to go. Overall then, a fantastically practical, safe and easy-to-use family-sized SUV that already scores highly in terms of comfort and cargo space. There’s plenty of performance, and the electric range is highly usable.

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