Volvo XC40 Recharge: Volvo’s first EV puts itself in the top drawer

We finally got behind the wheel of Volvo’s first electric car: The XC40 Recharge P8. Let’s find out where it ranks on the current EV market.

The XC40 has been an esteemed member of the Volvo catalogue for a number of years as a petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid SUV, so it was only natural that Volvo would base its first ever fully-electric car off its best-selling model in the UK.

Thankfully, the Volvo XC40 Recharge P8 has carried over much of the quality you would expect from the other models, but there are a few twists, including the price.

Inside and out

The XC40 is unequivocally one of the best-looking electric vehicles available. Whilst its trendy, younger Polestar brother may be more eccentric, the XC40 oozes cool and class, with a mean-looking front end bolstered by a colour-coded covered grille. The car looks especially good in the ‘thunder grey’ and it certainly garners a lot of attention when out and about.

Our range-topping Twin Pro version also came with 20” diamond-cut alloy wheels, and for the electric Recharge, you get a bespoke wheel design which is phenomenal.

Elsewhere, you have Thor-Hammer LED headlights, sculpted lower door sections and two-tone colouring, all of which add to the true beauty of this car.

It’s more of the same inside, too, and this is where it shares the most similarities with the Polestar 2, which is reassuring.

Some of the highlights consist of the 4-way adjustable lumbar heated seats, an audio system by Harman Kardon with Dolby Pro Logic II and a dazzling panoramic sunroof which douses the inside of this car with natural light, providing the perfect contrast to the cool and edgy black materials.

For an electric car, however, the centre console screen is pretty small at only nine-inches, which seems a world away from the baking-tray like infotainment screen you get in the likes of a Polestar or a Telsa. Usually, this wouldn’t be the biggest issue but, specifically on the setting screens, navigating the different icons can be a bit tricky.

Thankfully, unlike the Polestar 2, Apple CarPlay is supported so you can plug your phone in, but even if you don’t, you’re well equipped with the built-in Android system which gives you Google Assistant and Google Maps as standard.

Up front, you also have a whole host of safety features, such as blind spot warnings and lane assist, and there’s also adaptive cruise control for you.

One safety feature, however, did get some getting used to and that was the ‘Run Off-Road Protection’ which will automatically tighten your seatbelt should you run off the road. So, if you don’t have lane assist enabled and you ever so slightly move from the centre of the lane, your seatbelt will squeeze the life out of you. A good idea in principle, but slightly oversensitive in my experience.

In the back seats, there is a decent amount of legroom and headroom, even for those over six feet. Storage wise, the XC40 isn’t as big as some other electric SUVs but the 452L is still decent and there are options to extend it, too.

On the road

Whilst the XC40 Recharge P8 is technically a family SUV, it does pack a punch and it shares a lot of the same speed and power as the sportier Polestar 2.

The XC40 Recharge has a 78kW battery with two electric motors over each axle which give 408hp combined, all of which makes this one of the fast, most powerful Volvo’s ever produced and certainly one of the quickest.

According to Volvo, this car goes from 0.62mph in 4.9 seconds but in the real world, it’s 0-62mph in a blink of an eye; this car is rapid, make no mistake about it.

Although this car is astoundingly quick, it hasn’t compromised on the level of comfort that you would expect from a Volvo. Because this is an electric car, it’s a lot heavier than the petrol and diesel versions and that extra weight really does glue this car to the road. Even when you fling it into a relatively tight corner, there isn’t too much lean in the body and it just glides through effortlessly.

However, whilst this car has the speed and the power, there is something about the level of comfort that you’re in which makes you want to drive this car with some typical Swedish sensibility. Although I could quite easily leave any car for dust off the line, I was content with leaning back in my seat and easing off from a green light and slowly meandering around corners.

In my mind, that is the perfect combination. You always have the power in your back pocket, but for most of the time, you’re happy to just plod along, comfortable and care-free.

It’s good to know that the XC40 is comfortable to drive because you’ll be able to travel for around 230 miles off a full charge, which isn’t too far off the WLTP combined range of 257 miles which Volvo claims. The range isn’t too bad, but it is slightly less than the cheaper alternatives such as the Kia eNiro. In terms of charging time, the use of a 150kW charger should give you 0-80% in around 40 minutes, whereas a full charge using a 7kW hour home charger will take you around 11 hours.

How much?!

In order to avoid this review reading like a love letter to the XC40, I should probably rain on the parade and talk about the price.

One of the biggest put-offs with the XC40 is its price. With entry-level models starting from £49,000, it is certainly cheaper than the Audi and Mercedes alternatives, but it is drastically more expensive than some of the other electric SUV’s out there, like the Kia eNiro and the Hyundai Kona electric.

With the most expensive version of this car coming in at over £56,000, the Volvo XC40 Recharge P8 finds itself stuck between being an almost-affordable compact SUV and a premium electric vehicle which can rival the Mercedes and the Audi.

However…

Final verdict

There’s no escaping the fact that the Volvo is an expensive car and the likes of the Hyundai Kona Electric and the Kia eNiro should always be considered if you are looking for a more budget-friendly electric SUV.

There’s also no escaping the fact that, ignoring the price for one moment, that this is a truly tremendous electric vehicle.

It’s stupidly fast, breathtakingly good looking and as comfy as anything you’ll find in Ikea – it also has decent room in the back, a good amount of storage capacity and a perfectly suitable real-world range.

In summary, the Volvo XC40 Recharge P8 gets one almighty thumbs up from me.

Charlie Atkinson

Senior Reporter for EV Powered, covering and reviewing all things electric.