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Volvo XC40 2022 review: Recharge Pure Electric

Is Volvo's first shot at zero emissions electrifying? (Image: Tom White)
  • DrivetrainFully electric
  • Battery Capacity78kWh
  • Battery typeLithium-ion
  • Range418km (WLTP)
  • Plug TypeType 2 CCS
  • DC charge rate150kW
  • AC charge rate11kW
  • Electric motor output300kW/660Nm
  • Electric efficiency25.5kWh/100km
Complete Guide to Volvo XC40

Volvo’s brand renaissance is a gift that keeps on giving.

The Swede alternative to more mainstream European premium players needs to keep offering something different to survive and has thus far found success in giving buyers design-focused alternatives to the strong performance lineage of its predominantly German rivals.

Like its rivals, though, Volvo is facing a once-in-a-generation conversion from combustion to electrification, and thanks to its Chinese parent company, Geely, it is uniquely positioned to rapidly make the switch.

Despite that, we're only just seeing the brand’s first purely electric model, the XC40 Recharge. Does it have what it takes to edge in front of rivals for the electric era? We took one for a week to find out.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

There’s no question Volvo is continuing to present as a premium brand with this first electric offering. Despite dabbling its toes in the mainstream market in the past, the Swedish brand is only offering a fully bells-and-whistles approach to the XC40 this time around.

Wearing an MSRP of $76,990, the XC40 Recharge looks to specifically cross swords with the Mercedes-Benz EQA 250 ($76,800), but in reality, its rivals also include the Tesla Model 3 (Long Range $73,400), and all-new and much larger Hyundai Ioniq 5 (AWD - $75,900), both of which have big appeal to early EV adopters who may or may not be so fussy about brand.

The XC40 Recharge wears an MSRP of $76,990. (Image: Tom White) The XC40 Recharge wears an MSRP of $76,990. (Image: Tom White)

This is interesting, because Volvo’s all-electric sister brand Polestar, which just launched in Australia, is offering its first car, the Polestar 2, with a far leaner price. This is clearly designed to take sales from not only its existentially threatening Tesla rival, but also mainstream players, like Nissan, with Polestar's base pricing set at $59,900.

It shares the same platform and much of the same technology as our XC40 Recharge , so if you’re turned off by this bells-and-whistles top-spec-only approach from Volvo, waiting a little longer will give you an intriguing and more affordable alternative.

Returning to the standard spec of the XC40 Recharge; it only comes with a single, large 78kWh battery pack and a dual-motor all-wheel drive system, offering twice the power of its nearest combustion version, a range between charges of 418km, 20-inch alloy wheels, a 9.0-inch portrait multimedia screen, dual-zone climate control, a panoramic opening sunroof, power adjustable front seats with memory, leather-accented interior trim, heated front seats with a heated steering wheel, ‘R-Design’ interior and exterior design highlights, ‘Thor’s Hammer’ LED headlights with cornering function, a Harmon Kardon audio system, 360-degree parking camera suite, tinted rear windows, and the full safety suite.

To clear things up, this means everything that can possibly be fitted in the XC40 range is standard on the Recharge electric version. You can even choose any of the eight exterior paint options at no extra cost.

Standard features include a 9.0-inch portrait multimedia screen. (Image: Tom White) Standard features include a 9.0-inch portrait multimedia screen. (Image: Tom White)

Added to the standard equipment is a new version of the brand’s Android-based operating system, with an integrated SIM card and fully online Google services.

Not having any options helps this car regain some of the $10k price difference between it and the next model down (the PHEV version), but perhaps less on the $20k price difference between it and the conventionally powered T5 R-Design that sits below that.

Like the Mercedes-Benz EQA, it may also be a bit of a tall order for an EV which is naturally a bit compromised by sharing its platform with a combustion car. That might be enough for true EV enthusiasts to look right past this small SUV and onto the Tesla Model 3 or Hyundai Ioniq 5.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

It’s been a while since I’ve driven an XC40, and although this car launched back in 2018, it is ageing very well. The exterior is still as sleek as ever, having been slightly and tastefully tweaked for this fully electric version, and the interior remains, in my opinion, one of the best examples of design in the entire small SUV market.

Starting from the outside, though, one thing I’ve always liked about Volvo’s current design ethos is how it doesn’t try to scream about its alleged performance or how prepared for the future is. It’s quiet, elegant, and understated, with confident lines, gentle but meaningful highlights, tasteful wheel designs, and sturdy proportions.

Yet none of this makes the XC40 anonymous; it’s still striking to appreciate, set well apart from the designs of other brands. It slots seamlessly into Volvo’s very attractive line-up of SUVs, and I dare say it will continue to look good for years to come.

Volvo’s current design is quiet, elegant, and understated, with confident lines. (Image: Tom White) Volvo’s current design is quiet, elegant, and understated, with confident lines. (Image: Tom White)

The car’s interior only builds on this theme, with an attractive and well-proportioned dash design, premium-feeling materials throughout, and heavy digitisation via the portrait media screen and digital dash cluster.

The seat designs continue the comfortable and attractive motifs of Volvos past, while the newer design elements - like the carpet lining in the doors (constructed of recycled plastics, no less) and the ‘cutting edge’ pattern that makes up the highlight cutaways - set it apart from rivals.

Exterior design highlights include ‘Thor’s Hammer’ LED headlights. (Image: Tom White) Exterior design highlights include ‘Thor’s Hammer’ LED headlights. (Image: Tom White)

The abundance of piano-black gloss highlight panelwork looks classy, but you should keep in mind how easy it is for materials like this to get covered in fingerprints. Dust and scratches always stand out, too.

Regardless, the interior has a sense of balance and flow that mirrors this car’s exterior, and the commitment to a cohesive feel for the interior and exterior is to be applauded.

The only thing I will note is how the portrait touchscreen has dated. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still an excellent design element, but at 9.0-inches it doesn’t feel as striking as it did just a few years ago, now that many vehicles are offering massive 10 or even 12-inch multimedia panels.

How practical is the space inside?

The XC40 is in a bit of a Goldilocks-zone when it comes to the size of a ‘small-SUV’ (which, unlike the mid-size hatch segment, is not very well defined). This grants it a healthy amount of cabin space for four adult occupants, as I can fit myself with comfortable knee room and plenty of headroom behind my own driving position, despite a seemingly taller floor.

The seats are comfortable regardless of where you sit, and there are big bottle holders in the door and two stepped ones in the centre console. There’s a wireless phone-charging bay under the multimedia unit, with some extra space for objects, and a decently sized armrest console box, with an odd little removable box.

The seats are comfortable regardless of where you sit. (Image: Tom White) The seats are comfortable regardless of where you sit. (Image: Tom White)

The cool carpet trim continues to line the bottom of the bottle holder in the door. Don’t spill anything there. It will be a nightmare to get out.

Adjustability and visibility is excellent for the front passengers, too, and although the climate functions and most of the multimedia system has moved to touch functions, I’ll hand it to the layout of this Volvo’s touchscreen for being one of the easiest on the market to use.

Boot space is down a little on combustion variants at 418-litres (VDA), and the Recharge makes up for it by swapping an otherwise busy engine bay out for a frunk, which not every combustion-platformed electric car manages. It measures in at 31L. There is even some underfloor space in the boot for your charging paraphernalia, although you only get a tyre-repair kit rather than a space-saver spare wheel for emergencies.

Boot space is down a little on combustion variants at 418-litres (VDA). (Image: Tom White) Boot space is down a little on combustion variants at 418-litres (VDA). (Image: Tom White)

What are the key stats for the drivetrain?

The XC40 Recharge is ridiculously powerful for its size class. It’s nearly twice as powerful as the nearest combustion version of this car and packs a Tesla-rattling punch from its dual-motor, all-wheel-drive setup.

It’s always nice to see something with more power than it needs, especially with all the added weight of its massive 78kWh battery pack.

On offer are two motors offering 150kW/330Nm each, combining for a total of 300kW/660Nm. The XC40 Recharge will accelerate from 0-100km/h in just 4.9 seconds and has a single-speed reduction gear transmission.

While having the full-fat performance and security of all-wheel drive helps justify the cost of this SUV, it has drawbacks when it comes to efficiency, which we’ll explore next.

How much does it consume? What’s the range like, and what it’s like to recharge/refuel?

Powering the XC40 is a 78kWh battery pack, which grants this all-wheel drive an officially rated 418km of driving range. This is more than enough for an EV, although this car’s sister product, the Polestar 2, uses the same motors in 2WD with significantly more range from the same battery.

The XC40 Recharge has an official/combined consumption figure of 25.5kWh/100km. (Image: Tom White) The XC40 Recharge has an official/combined consumption figure of 25.5kWh/100km. (Image: Tom White)

The XC40’s consumption is higher than I would like, with an official/combined consumption figure of 25.5kWh/100km. For a bit of perspective, most EVs this size will get under 20, with the best I’ve ever seen being the FWD Kona electric, which scored just 11kWh/100km.

In my testing of the XC40, consisting of mainly urban driving (where EVs are at their best, courtesy of their use of regenerative braking) I scored 21.3kWh/100km. Better than the official claim by quite a bit.

At maximum DC-charging speed, you can expect a 10-80 per cent charge in around 40 minutes. (Image: Tom White) At maximum DC-charging speed, you can expect a 10-80 per cent charge in around 40 minutes. (Image: Tom White)

The XC40 Recharge has a European-standard Type 2 CCS charging port, and can charge at a maximum rate of 150kW on DC, or 11kW on AC.

At maximum DC-charging speed, you can expect a 10-80 per cent charge in around 40 minutes, while at the more common 50kW DC charging locations, you can expect a charge in just over an hour. At maximum AC speed, 11kW at a home or car park AC location, you can expect a full charge in around eight hours, and a wall socket will charge the car from empty to 100 per cent in around 33 hours.

The XC40 Recharge has a European-standard Type 2 CCS charging port. (Image: Tom White) The XC40 Recharge has a European-standard Type 2 CCS charging port. (Image: Tom White)

Charging specs are bang-on for a car in this class, as 22kW AC charging is extremely rare, while a DC-charging rate higher than 150kW generally requires more elaborate and expensive cooling systems.

What's it like to drive around town?

For a car that shares its underpinnings with a combustion vehicle, there are a lot of little things the XC40 does right which its rivals don’t. It starts as soon as you hop in. Like Teslas, Volvo has quite correctly removed the need for an ignition, you just hop in, put the car in drive, and you’re ready to go. This combines with four-door keyless entry for a great first impression.

The Google integrated services are all sleek too, not really requiring phone mirroring, again in a similar fashion to the Tesla model 3. Just chuck your phone in the charging bay, and you’re good to go with a Bluetooth connection.

The steering is generally nice and smooth and lending this little SUV some meaningful feedback. (Image: Tom White) The steering is generally nice and smooth and lending this little SUV some meaningful feedback. (Image: Tom White)

The software suite has also improved out of sight, and while I’m never a fan of 90 per cent of a vehicle's functions being moved onto a screen, at least this Volvo does a great job of making all the climate settings easy to use with the portrait layout. As is inputting an address, should you need to use the navigation.

The driving position is immediately excellent, offering a superior view of the road from such a relatively small vehicle, with a high but not unsettling seating arrangement. Take off is nice and smooth with both axles providing power, and the XC40 Recharge has a single, aggressive regenerative-braking system, which can be entirely switched off if need be. The regen system is similar to the one in my Nissan Leaf long termer and is generally lovely to use.

The steering is generally nice and smooth and lending this little SUV some meaningful feedback, although it is a little overly electrically assisted for more spirited cornering, removing some of the feel from the front wheels at the extremes.

I was a little disappointed to find tyre roar really picks up at freeway speeds, perhaps courtesy of the large wheels and burdened dampers. (Image: Tom White) I was a little disappointed to find tyre roar really picks up at freeway speeds, perhaps courtesy of the large wheels and burdened dampers. (Image: Tom White)

The ride is also firm, something the XC40 range is known for, especially compared to the softer ride of other Volvo models. This isn’t helped by this car’s weight. While things are generally very well controlled, road conditions like corrugations and sharp imperfections can really find their way into the cabin in the worst possible way. That having been said, undulations and bodyroll are kept remarkably under control, and traction from the all-wheel-drive system is also Tesla-like in its grip.

The cabin is very quiet around town, leading to a sense of security and comfort, but I was a little disappointed to find tyre roar really picks up at freeway speeds, perhaps courtesy of the large wheels and burdened dampers.

On a final note, for a car with such a quiet demeanour, the straight-line performance is ridiculous. Press the accelerator down and this car will seriously throw you into the back of your seat, reminding you of the huge potential of its electric motors. Suddenly the sub-five-second 0-100km/h sprint time becomes visceral.

Ultimately, this is a little SUV that has only been improved by electrification from behind the wheel, bringing some of that Tesla-like convenience and performance to a car which you might not expect to have such virtues. It could use a little sandpapering in a few areas, but it’s impressive for something that isn’t on a bespoke electric platform.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

Like the rest of the XC40 range, the Recharge EV comes with the full suite of safety features. This also helps set it apart from its more affordable Polestar 2 cousin, which has some key items as options.

Standard active stuff includes freeway-speed auto emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-keep assist with lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, rear auto braking, adaptive cruise control, and a 360-degree parking suite.

The XC40 range has carried a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating since 2018. (Image: Tom White) The XC40 range has carried a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating since 2018. (Image: Tom White)

A few small items that are oddly missing for a brand so associated with safety include any form of driver-fatigue monitoring, and other more cutting-edge items like safe exit warning offered on some rivals.

Regardless, the XC40 also packs a suite of seven airbags, and the expected dual ISOFIX child-seat mounting points on the outer rear seats. The XC40 range has carried a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating since 2018, and this rating was recently approved by ANCAP to extend to this Recharge electric version.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

Volvo models are covered by a five-year and unlimited-kilometre factory warranty, which is ahead of many rivals (like Audi and BMW) in the premium space. The high-voltage battery components are covered for the industry standard eight years and unlimited kilometres.

Volvo says the electric motors in the XC40 are ‘sealed for life’ and have no serviceable components, although other fluids, brakes, and minor serviceable items need to be attended to. The XC40 is covered by a service program that lasts for the first three years or 100,000km, normally at a cost of $1500, which is included in the purchase price for the Recharge.

A five-year service plan (which normally comes at a cost of $2500 for combustion variants) will also extend to the Recharge, although pricing has not yet been announced. With less to look after, the XC40 Recharge only needs to visit a service tech once every 30,000km or 24 months.

  • DrivetrainFully electric
  • Battery Capacity78kWh
  • Battery typeLithium-ion
  • Range418km (WLTP)
  • Plug TypeType 2 CCS
  • DC charge rate150kW
  • AC charge rate11kW
  • Electric motor output300kW/660Nm
  • Electric efficiency25.5kWh/100km
Complete Guide to Volvo XC40

In such a rapidly evolving electric car space, the XC40 Recharge definitely finds its place. To me, this is a more appealing offering than something like the similarly equipped and priced Mercedes-Benz EQA, with the Recharge feeling particularly coherent for an EV on a combustion platform.

With the healthy range, easy-to-use tech, and impressive performance on offer, I can see how the sums might add up against its less-premium long-range rivals, especially since the price is not so much higher that it might rule it out for first-time adopters.

However, it would be nice to see a trimmed back version in the future with a more efficient 2WD drivetrain and smaller battery option to put price pressure on rivals, particularly the likes of the also design led and much larger Hyundai Ioniq 5. Until then, you can always wait for the similar Polestar 2, which brings much of the same in an interesting package, arriving early in 2022.

$76,990

Based on new car retail price

Score

4.1/5
Price Guide

$76,990

Based on new car retail price

This price is subject to change closer to release data
Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.