Why would I buy it?
- Ballistic acceleration and drivability
- Good claimed range
Why would I avoid it?
- Apprehension of EV adaptability
- Limited dealer network
Engine and performance
The Volvo XC40 Recharge is an electric version of the luxury compact SUV and the carmaker’s first big step to venture into the electric car segment. This is in line with its ambition to become a fully electric car company by 2030. Now, this car is based on the Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) platform, looks very similar to the XC40 crossover, and also packs all the good things from its ICE powered sibling.
Hence, we straight got behind its wheel and the biggest difference between the petrol/diesel derivatives was quite apparent. Of course, it’s super silent, but what's more interesting, is how quickly it gets off the mark. Volvo claims that the car does 0-100kmph in 4.9 seconds! Well, our V-Box will ascertain this claim soon. But for now, it feels quite believable. There's instantaneous torque at your disposal, and with the one-speed gearbox working flawlessly, short sprints are going to be fun! Also, it doesn't feel snappy with its throttle response. One can make good progress to attain triple-digit speeds within no time. Its top speed is limited to 180kmph though.
The XC40 Recharge uses two 150kW electric motors mounted on the front and rear axles. The combined output is more than 400bhp and 660Nm of torque. That's quite a lot of power for this compact vehicle that gets all-wheel-drive as standard. Moreover, the electric motors are powered by a 78kWh battery. The latter is claimed to offer a maximum range of around 418km on a single charge, which is substantially good. This battery can be recharged from 10 per cent to 80 per cent in just 33 minutes using a fast 150kW charger. However, this one's not available in India yet. Still, a 50kW fast charger will take about 2-2.5 hours to charge the crossover completely.
Ride and Handling
The car gets an off-road mode which can be activated through the settings on the infotainment screen. Given the short time we had, we didn't take the car off-road, but still got an idea of what this crossover is capable of. It rides high on 19-inch wheels and we never felt nervous, even while taking the diversions and broken sections of the road. The suspension soaks up the thunks and thuds well, not compromising on passengers’ comfort.
Another interesting system is the one pedal handling which enables the accelerator pedal to do all the work. The car moves ahead when you press it and as you release it, the car’s brakes are automatically applied. It feels alarming at the start, but once you get a hang of it, it’s even more fun to use. The steering is light, precise, and well-weighted. Still, you can firm it up a notch higher through a button on the screen. Then chucking this crossover in corners will induce some body roll. That said, its straight-line stability is impressive, and it will even take the long fast bends without making you feel nervous. It remains planted all the time. Even the all-disc brakes do a fantastic job of stopping this vehicle that is ever enthusiastic to sprint.
The XC40 has already won many awards and accolades for its design and styling. This Recharge is not very different, apart from the grille change at the front. Buyers will appreciate its looks. It's a compact offering from Volvo which is similar to the size of the Audi Q3, BMW X1, and Mercedes-Benz GLA. And as we've said earlier, the Swedish luxury carmaker had stepped up the game with the XC40 T4 R-Design and this one's no different. Its distinct nose gets a different grille, still flanked by LED headlamps. These are Volvo's signature Thor’s hammer LED headlamps, albeit with a different rendition. Then, the modern Scandinavian styling is portrayed right from its alloy wheels to its rear end. This makes it look very different as compared to other SUVs in its segment. In comparison to the non-electric crossover, there are two other major changes that you will see here. Firstly, instead of the fuel-filler cap, there's a charging port. Secondly, under the hood, since there's no engine, this space can be utilised for more cargo space. It is 31 litres to be precise.
Comfort, Convenience, and Features
In continuation to the afore-mentioned cargo space, there’s a boot space identical to that of the standard XC40 which stands at 452 litres. Its tailgate is electrically powered and can be actuated by placing your foot under the rear bumper.
Now the interior is again like the standard XC40, meaning plush and luxurious for a compact SUV. It's a Volvo after all. So, it's an all-black cabin with leather-free upholstery, a panoramic sunroof, Harmon Kardon audio system, and a vertically placed infotainment system taking centre stage. It houses most of the controls too. Then, there's a 12-inch instrument cluster with a full display of the map with navigation. It also shows vital bits pertaining to the electric charge. Other details can be seen on the screen on the dashboard paired with google services and Volvo's car app. The seats remain comfortable with power-adjustable front seats with memory function. This along with a dual-zone climate control takes care of your comfort, a 13-speaker Harman Kardon set-up takes care of your entertainment needs, and an air purifier and a wireless charger of your convenience. Also, there’s enough legroom in the second row, but it’s still a tight space for three. Besides, a little more under-thigh support and a slightly reclined backrest would have made it more relaxing for rear occupants.
And then, it’s needless to say, Volvos are known for safety and this one, too, comes equipped with many such features. This includes driver and passenger airbags, side-impact protection system (SIPS) airbags, inflatable curtains, and a driver-side knee airbag as well. Furthermore, a new 360-degree camera provides surround view, obstruction detection with automatic emergency braking, Park Assist, Pilot Assist, and run-off road mitigation as well. Then, there's adaptive cruise control, cross-traffic alert, lane keep assist, road sign information, and even oncoming lane mitigation. All these help it score high in terms of safety standards.
Expected to be priced over Rs 70 lakh, ex-showroom, it might look like an expensive option. But then consider the other EVs in the luxury segment and this compact one will make sense for its price. Also, do note that this is being imported as a CBU or completely built unit. Yes, the XC40 Recharge isn't something that will excite you in terms of driving dynamics but will surely impress with its outright acceleration and sufficient range. It will receive praise like its other siblings for its styling, build quality, refinement, and, of course, high safety standards. Volvo plans to announce its pricing and start bookings in July this year. The deliveries are expected to begin by October.
Pictures by Kaustubh Gandhi