2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge review: Electric SUV is charming and versatile
This European brand is known for making some of the best SUVs on the road and its latest machine to arrive in Australia has some serious wow factor.
Volvo is more bullish than most with its plans to shift to an all-electric line-up.
An electric XC90 and Volvo’s first EV-only model, the C40, will arrive next year, before an EV version of the XC60 in 2024. In the meantime the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric will lead the way.
Badges aside, it looks identical to other XC40s other than the white grille, chosen to smooth air flow because an EV doesn’t need as much cooling.
Drive away pricing starts at about $82,000, helped by the fact that Volvo is only charging $995 for dealer delivery, about a third of the fee for petrol XC40s. That means it’s eligible for a stamp duty exemption of roughly $3000 in NSW once legislation passes.
Three years of servicing is included, with years four and five adding $1000.
The XC40 is officially a compact SUV, but it’s larger than its most obvious rival, the Mercedes-Benz EQA.
It’s brimming with kit including 20-inch alloys, 13-speaker Harman Kardon audio, dual-zone ventilation, a heated steering wheel, heated front and rear seats, powered front seats, 360-degree camera, digital instrument cluster and wireless phone charging.
Safety gear incorporates auto braking in forward and reverse, speed-sign recognition and blind-spot warning.
It’s the only Volvo EV to get real leather, while the carpet is made from recycled plastic bottles.
The Pure Electric is also the first car in Australia with Android Automotive (as opposed to Android Auto), which leaves Google in charge of the 9.0-inch touchscreen.
That gives you access to maps and Google Assistant, so you can ask anything from the height of Uluru to the population of Spain.
Google Assistant is polite (we changed her to an English accent; Aussie is coming) and relies on a data connection that Volvo includes for four years.
By compact SUV standards there’s generous leg room and head room. A hump in the rear floor is a reminder that the CX40 was originally designed for petrol, not batteries.
Electric kit also impinges on boot space, which is a still-useful 414 litres, about 10 per cent less than other XC40s. A 31-litre cavity under the bonnet compensates.
Two electric motors do the driving, providing power to all four wheels. And there’s no shortage of it, with a combined 300kW and 660Nm, the latter providing a luscious surge when you press the throttle.
The 0-100km/h dash is disposed of in 4.9 seconds, ensuring you’re never lacking for go. For a nuggety 2.1-tonne-plus SUV it’s unassumingly fast.
In an EV rarity, it can also tow 1500kg.
Despite the heft, it’s impressively agile thanks to a flat stance and grippy Pirelli rubber. It quells bumps nicely too, albeit with initial firmness from low-profile tyres.
Less endearing is the low frequency suspension booming that detracts from the low-speed serenity.
Those wanting to tailor regenerative braking may also be disappointed to have just two choices: aggressive one-pedal mode (where the car will come to a stop without pressing the brake pedal) or regular mode, which is like coasting. It’s one extreme to the other.
The official range claim is 418km, although our experience suggested something like 350km is closer to the money. We’d have liked a range predictor but could only find a remaining battery percentage.
Electricity use is high at a claimed 25.5kWh per 100km, although it’s easy to beat that, even when driving for fun.
Charging on a wallbox will take as little as eight hours, or you can quadruple that from a regular power point. The XC40 will accept up to 150kW of DC electricity, allowing a charge to 80 per cent capacity in 40 minutes.
Planned over-the-air software updates should also add to the XC40 Pure Electric’s strong appeal over time.
Versatile and stylish EV delivers on expectations with some Scandinavian charm.
VOLVO XC40 PURE ELECTRIC VITALS
Price: From about $82,000 drive-away
Warranty/servicing: 5 yrs/unlimited km, $1000 for 5 yrs
Safety:7 airbags, autonomous emergency braking, rear auto braking, lane-keep assist, driver alert monitor, speed-sign recognition
Motor:dual electric, 300kW/660Nm, 78kWh battery
Thirst: 25.5kWh/100km, 418km range
Boot: 414 litres (rear), 31 litres (front)