IF you told us five years ago that Volvo were going to make an all-electric compact SUV with 300kW of power, we would have laughed. Today, the 2022 dual-motor Volvo XC40 Recharge is very much real, and it greatly exceeded our expectations.
Despite having the capacity to humiliate provisional drivers at the lights, the Recharge retains the XC40’s sensible Swedish design with only a few subtle changes.
Interior and exterior design
The grille has been blanked-out as there is no engine to cool up front. A humble “Recharge Twin” badge has been added to the tailgate. The 20-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels contribute to the vehicle’s road presence too, as do the “Hammer of Thor” LED headlights.
Having an endless list of standard features, the only options are exterior paint finishes, which are available at no extra cost. It makes the XC40 a smart-looking vehicle that is perfect for buyers who are after a stylish and contemporary design.
The cabin is typical Volvo with exceptional build quality, comfortable leather-accented seats and an ergonomic layout.
We struggled to find any creaks or panel gaps and were impressed by the various soft touch plastics throughout the interior. The gauge cluster is crisp and easy to read, but could benefit with more configurability, such as map zoom like Audi’s virtual cockpit.
Our only real complaint pertains to Volvo’s new Android-powered infotainment system, which was occasionally unresponsive and particularly struggled on a warm summer’s day. Even after cooling down, we were unable to perform basic tasks such as navigation.
We hope that this issue was unique to our test vehicle, and apart from these odd hiccups, the system was a breeze to operate and navigate. Unlike its German rivals, Volvo has also refrained from turning the XC40 into a nightclub, with coloured ambient lighting.
Instead, subtle strips of white light, a panoramic sunroof and a brilliant Harman/Kardon sound system help keep things classy. The sound up front should please the most unbearable of audiophiles, but it could benefit from an extra speaker or two at the rear.
The rear seats are reasonably spacious as well, with good headroom, despite that panoramic sunroof we mentioned earlier.
Individuals over 180cm will be fine for legroom too, but may struggle on longer journeys. With easy-to-access ISOFIX mounting points, deep storage pockets and a 414-litre rear boot, the 2022 Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric should be perfect for most families.
On the road
The Recharge Pure Electric ditches the combustion engine in favour of a hefty 78kWh battery, which produces an astronomical 300kW and 660Nm of torque. Power is sent to all four wheels via two electric motors, which is controlled via a single-speed transmission.
As an everyday cruiser, the Recharge is supremely comfortable and easy to manoeuvre around town. Though it has the instant torque of an electric vehicle, it’s not intimidating to drive thanks to slick pedal calibration, responsive steering and comfy suspension.
The regenerative braking system allows for smooth, one-pedal driving, but can be turned off should you wish. You hear the occasional whirr of the motors but other than that, it’s a serene and silent experience to drive the XC40 Recharge in morning traffic.
During an urban commute, we were able to drop the official 25.5kWh/100km consumption figure down to 21.1kWh/100km, thanks to regenerative braking and sheer efficiency.
We also learned that the maximum range of 418km will rapidly drop, after some spirited driving on an open road. Despite this, there was always enough ‘juice’ to run daily errands and navigate the harbour city that is Sydney.
Ideally, you should be charging the vehicle from home every night or two, in your garage. Alternatively, you can use fast chargers that can be found at shopping centres and in various locations – that is of course assuming they aren’t occupied. They often were.
In reality, you could plan a route that included charging opportunities and take the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric on an interstate road trip, but the convenience of the five-minute fill-up stays with the model range’s plug-in hybrid and petrol variants.
Despite weighing a bulky 2,158kg, the XC40 Recharge has some impressive driving dynamics. With the battery in the floor, the vehicle has a low centre of gravity, allowing it to conquer the tightest of corners.
It’s no Polestar, but with a set of Pirelli P Zero tyres, we can assure you that it’s agile enough to put a smile on the face of the grimmest of drivers. Similarly, the acceleration is rather good for this class of car.
It’s not dead-silent like you might expect either, as you can hear some motor noise when giving it the beans. The sprint to 100km/h is achieved in just 4.9 seconds too, but it feels much quicker thanks to that instant torque.
Fellow road users are left bewildered by the compact Volvo SUV that managed to shoot off at the lights; it’s a bizarre sight to behold.
The Recharge is fitted with Volvo’s expansive suite of the latest driver aids, including but not limited to lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring and a 360-degree camera. Unlike certain systems in rival manufacturers, nothing felt overprotective or dangerous.
If we had to nit-pick, some tighter seatbelts wouldn’t go amiss in a vehicle this quick.
With price tag of $76,990 plus on-roads, it’s almost $30,000 dearer than an entry level variant in the same range, but with a buttery-smooth powertrain and a vast array of standard features, the price premium starts to make sense.
It’s dearer than its petrol and hybrid siblings though, and yet is a brilliant answer the all-electric Mercedes EQA 250, with both cars offering near-identical luxuries at just shy of $80,000.
The vehicle is backed by Volvo’s 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty, while the battery is covered by an 8-year warranty.
The 2022 Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric is an absolutely great family car for the city. It’s not perfect. But it’s damn close.
Our test vehicle was provided by Volvo Cars Australia. To find out more about the 2022 Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric, contact your local Volvo dealer. To read the full story, visit Exhaust Notes Australia.
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