This is Volvo’s first all-electric car, the XC40 Recharge P8 and it is the first of many new EVs to come from Volvo in the coming years, as the Swedish brand expects 50% of its global sales to be electric cars by 2025. The XC40 is Volvo’s best-selling model in Ireland and it is available as a petrol, diesel or plug-in-hybrid, but can this electric version challenge other premium electric SUVs? It goes up against electric crossovers like the Audi Q4 e-tron, BMW iX3, Ford Mustang Mach-e and the forthcoming Tesla Model Y. Prices for the XC40 Recharge start from around €64,000, and it offers 416 kilometres of range from a single charge as well as fast charging speeds that allow an 80% recharge in just 40 minutes.
From the outside the electric XC40 is similar to the normal fuel-powered versions of the car, which is a good thing. There are a few small differences, namely a colour coded front grille which looks nice, recharge branding on the C-Pillars, and of course the charging port for the car’s 78kwh lithium ion battery pack. Speaking of charging, when hooked up to a 150 kilowatt rapid charger it can charge from 0 – 80 percent in just 40 minutes, although there aren’t that many of these chargers around yet. Charging at home with a standard wall box charger it will take around eight hours to charge overnight.
As standard it gets 19-inch alloy wheels, glossy black roof rails and tinted rear windows, but this higher spec version has huge 20-inch alloy wheels and premium fusion red metallic paint. The battery runs along the floor of the XC40 Recharge P8 which means it has slightly less ground clearance than the regular XC40, but you the good thing is you don’t loose on passenger space inside.
Stepping inside it feels very similar to the normal XC40 but there are a few changes which improve the driving experience. There is an improved digital driver’s display which looks really sharp and shows you EV-specific information such as battery consumption, interestingly it just shows the percentage of battery left similar to your smartphone rather than the kilometres left. There’s also an improved 9-inch touch screen system that has been developed with Google’s Android operating system, and it looks very sharp and is easy to use.
You get functions such as Google Maps, Google Play Store and Google Assistant voice recognition which is excellent and one of the best in any car on sale right now, and also over the air updates so it is always improving. Apple car play is also standard too. As you would expect at this price point, the interior quality is very good throughout and it is among the best of any electric SUVs on the market right now, although there are some lower grade plasics further down on the doors.
The driving position is good with lots of space up front and a wide range of adjustment from the seats. There are big door pockets and plenty of storage areas throughout too. It’s a similar story in the rear with good room for two tall passengers, three at a squeeze, two sets of ISOFIX mounts for family buyers and an armrest with built-in cup holders.
It is worth noting that the headrests are fixed and can’t be adjusted so it is worth checking if your car seat fits correctly. Boot space is 47 litres less than in the standard XC40 due to the addition of the electric powertrain and batteries bit it is still a useful space with additional storage under the floor. There is a useful area 31 litres of space under the bonnet where you would normally find the engine, and this is a great place to store charge cables.
Volvo has designed the car to be simple to use, there’s keyless entry and you don’t even have to press a start button when you’re inside, simply slide the drive controller to D and go. Out on the road the Volvo XC40 Recharge P8 is seriously quick, even though you wouldn’t expect it from a family SUV. It has two electric motors, one powering the front wheels, and another powering the rear wheels, which produce a combined 402 brake horsepower.
With all of that power it can sprint from 0-100km/h in just 4.9 seconds in a straight line which makes it faster than most other electric cars on the market, it is rapid in a straight line and it throws you back into the driver’s seat under hard acceleration. It’s hard not to be impressed by just how rapid this car is to drive, and indeed it is one of the most powerful and fastest Volvo’s to date.
In all truth it probably doesn’t need to be this fast as the vast majority of buyers will want it be efficient, maximise their range and drive in comfort. You can choose from different driving modes including one pedal drive, which slows the car down when you lift off the accelerator and maximises regenerative braking or you can also firm the steering feel should you want. It is a heavy car due to the addition of the battery and motors, 2200 kilos in fact which is around half a tonne heavier than the regular XC40 petrol. Nonetheless it manages its weight very well and corners with grips and confidence, as electric SUVs go this is one of the more fun to drive.
It is very comfortable smooth, quiet and refined, on bumpier back roads or over potholes the suspension and large wheels can be quite hard. The claimed range is 413 kilometres which will of course vary on your driving style, especially if you are tempted to drive hard with that much power going to the wheels. We have found that around 400 kilometres to be quite realistic in real world driving too, if you drive consciously with preserving the battery in mind.
Volvo remains focused on Safety and the XC40 Recharge has lots of new tech including enhanced Pilot Assist which integrates bends and speed limits with Google Maps on your driver’s display, and other functions such as a rear auto brake in anticipation of collisions.
Prices for the electric Volvo XC40 Recharge P8 start from just over €64,000 in Ireland, some €23,000 more than the entry petrol-powered Volvo XC40! There are two levels of specification to choose from, Recharge Plus and Recharge Pro. The entry Recharge Plus is very well specced which you would expect at €64,000, with 19-inch diamond cut alloy wheels, a sports heated steering wheel, a heat pump, LED headlights, park assist and a reversing camera, an electric tailgate, heated seats and of course the digital screens and google-powered infotainment system.
Step up to Recharge Pro specification like our test car for an extra €3,944 and you get a panoramic roof, tinted rear windows, 20-inch wheels, driver assistance with pilot assist and adaptive cruise control, a premium Harmon Kardon sound system, leather upholstery, a 360 degree surround view parking camera, and lots more.
So should you buy the XC40 Recharge P8? If you are looking for an electric SUV that is high on style, quality and offers an exciting drive with strong performance, it is one to consider. It comes to the market with a high price tag though, and there are plenty of other electric SUVs that undercut it on price such as the Audi Q4 e-tron and Skoda ENYAQ iv. If more affordable lower specification versions of this car arrive with smaller battery options, we can see it becoming a favourite however.