8 years or 100,000 miles
The XC40 Recharge Pure Electric is pretty much everything you'd expect a Volvo full-EV model to be but in its early form, needed a few tweaks. It's had them. The base single motor front-driven version's been replaced by a rear-driven variant with longer range - and the dual motor AWD model gets a larger battery, so goes further too. The drawback is premium pricing but otherwise, a lot of boxes seem to have been ticked here.
You might be surprised that it took so long for Volvo to bring us a full-EV: not until 2020 did it launch its first electric car, the XC40 Pure Electric. Which is strange because the marque was, after all, one of the very first to popularise Plug-in hybrid electrification in its models. Having said that, if you know the industry, you might be surprised that this Gothenburg maker is selling any kind of EV at all. Doesn't Volvo's all-electric subsidiary brand, Polestar, deal with that? It seems not. Volvo wants (and needs in view of current European directives) to dramatically increase the sales percentage of its electrified models and that can't be done merely by concentrating on mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid engineering. Plus the XC40 sits on the same CMA platform used for the Polestar 2 model, so it was pretty straightforward to create a milkfloat mobility version of this little SUV. The early version wasn't quite cutting edge in terms of battery tech, but updates in early 2023 have improved that no end. As we're about to see...
There are two flavours of XC40 Recharge Pure Electric on offer and both have been substantially improved since this model's original launch. Most customers will opt for the 'Single Motor' version, which used to be front-driven, but the Swedish maker's now moved the e-motor to the rear axle and slightly uprated its output to 238hp. Without any real impact on performance - rest to 62mph is dispatched in 7.3s on the way to the 112mph top speed that all Volvos these days share. EV driving range is WLTP-rated at 290 miles. To get the claimed mileage, you'll need to engage what the Swedish maker calls 'One Pedal Drive', selectable from the 'Driving' menu provided on this centre-dash screen. This dramatically increases the regenerative braking effect when you come off the throttle, to the point where, as advertised, the brake pedal will hardly ever be needed. The alternative is the 'Twin Motor' AWD variant we're trying here, which in this improved form uses a larger 82kWh battery pack and twin electric motor set-up that has now adopted different front and rear e-motors, with 150hp and 258hp respectively, in place of the 204hp units previously used on both axles. But the 408hp total power output figure has remained the same as the last time we tested this car, so performance is still startling, a massive 670Nm of torque (at which point the main motor is spinning at a heady 14,000rpm), catapulting the car to 62mph in just 4.7s. In 'Single Motor' form, an XC40 Recharge Pure Electric is around 350kgs heavier than the equivalent B3 mild hybrid model and you certainly feel that at speed through tight corners. Ride quality though is pleasantly supple and better than most similarly-sized EV rivals, aided by this EV variant's switch to a softer 'Touring' suspension set-up. That doesn't deliver a very sharp feel through the bends, but the distinctly modest level of feedback through the electric steering rack doesn't encourage you to seek that anyway, even if you use the centre screen option that switches the steering to its firmer setting.
This XC40 has been updated in recent times with a smarter front bumper and a frameless front grille. That latter feature is blanked off, which is the main visual difference marking out this full-electric XC40 model from the combustion-engined versions of this design. This sort of thing is rarely a great adornment for an EV - and isn't here. That grille panel's there of course because there's no engine to cool. In another update, the signature Thor's Hammer headlights have been augmented with state-of-the-art pixel LED light technology. Otherwise, things are as before, so if you pop the bonnet where the engine of an XC40 used to be, what you'll actually find is a useful 31-litre 'frunk' stowage space. You'll find this a usual place to chuck the charging cables into so that they don't end up getting in the way of everything in the boot. At the wheel, there are few giveaways to this Volvo's battery-powered remit, save for a few EV-specific electronic gauges. Delve into the workings of the central portrait-style 9-inch screen and you'll find that the infotainment system is powered by Android, which means you get a raft of over-the-air Google features, including Maps and YouTube Music built in. What else might you need to know about the cabin? Well because the XC40's basic architecture was designed to accommodate a full-electric powertrain from the start, there are no compromises over combustion versions when it comes to rear seat legroom. Or luggage space. Which is just as well because trunk capacity isn't huge, though the 452-litre capacity figure will probably be quite sufficient for the needs of most owners.
The XC40 Recharge model comes with a choice of single or dual-motor powertrains and and a choice of either 'Core', 'Plus' or 'Ultimate' levels of trim. Prices start from around £46,500 for the rear-driven version, while the bigger-battery AWD model costs from just under £52,000. Whatever kind of Pure Electric XC40 you decide upon, it's worth pointing out that almost no one considering this car will be thinking in terms of purchasing it outright. In most cases, they won't even be buying it from a dealer; this XC40 Recharge Pure Electric model was the first of the brand's cars to be offered exclusively online - which is the way that all future Pure Electric Volvos will be sold. You can still go into a dealership and order it if you want, but it's probably easier just to go on line and order it from home - probably using the 'Care By Volvo' subscription service, which is the way that up to 95% of XC40 Recharge Pure Electric models are apparently likely to be acquired. Whichever trim level you decide upon, there's plenty of equipment included - as you'd hope given the figures being asked here. Tick off automatic LED headlights with active high beam, high gloss black roof rails, rear parking sensors, a powered tailgate and 19-inch alloy wheels. Inside, across the range there's 2-Zone climate control, a 12.3-litre 'Progressive Driver Display' instrument cluster screen, a wireless 'phone charger and heated front seats with lumbar support. Media stuff's taken care of by a 9-inch Centre Console Portrait Touch Screen with navigation, a 250-watt 8-speaker DAB audio system, voice recognition, wired 'Apple CarPlay' and four years' use of Google Automotive Services.
We've already given you this XC40 Recharge model's operating range in our 'Driving Experience' section; a maximum of 290 miles for the single-motor model and up to 334 miles for the dual-motor version. These figures postion this Volvo much more competitively in its segment, but they're still some way from being up with the class-leaders; thank this Swedish contender's portly kerb weight (around 2-tonnes) for that. Volvo's worked hard on charging speeds too, increasing this car's maximum charging rate from 150kW to 200kW and, as a result, the rapid-charging 10-80% time has been cut by nine minutes to 28 minutes. Most of the time of course, you'll be charging this Volvo via your own garage wallbox, probably one with a 7.4kW output. With the 'Single Motor' model, a charge from empty to full will need 10 hours 45 minutes; with the 'Twin Motor' version, you'll require 12 hours 30 minutes. You can of course set charging times remotely - in this case via the 'Volvo Cars app'. On the move, a read-out at the bottom of the instrument cluster briefs you on battery charge and above it, there's a power meter gauge to show whether you're using charge or regenerating it. The same instrument screen can display trip computer data showing average energy consumption and how far you've driven since your last charge. There are of course, lots of taxation advantages in running an EV. With this one, as with its main rivals, you'll be rated at just 2% for BiK Benefit-in-Kind taxation. Servicing will be at the same intervals as any other XC40 (every year or 18,000 miles, whichever comes first), but the bill you get should be cheaper because there will be fewer consumables to replace, though remember that with an EV, tyre wear tends to be greater than with a combustion model.
The government talks about incentivising the sale of electric vehicles. But then progressively reduces buying incentives on them. Car manufacturers talk about wanting to increase the EV percentage of their sales: but then price full-electric models beyond the reach of most buyers. It's a conundrum. And for the time being, it doesn't show any real signs of being solved. This XC40 Recharge Pure Electric model is a case in point. It's a very well engineered little electric vehicle, particularly in this much improved form. But, like all its direct rivals, it costs quite a considerable amount. There are lots of things we like though, about what Volvo's tried to do here. The accessible 'Care By Volvo' finance package; the sophisticated Google-based tech for the media and Pilot Assist driving systems; and the practical front storage area. The brand's really thought carefully here, not only about what customers might want but also what they might really need in a premium EV of this kind. Which makes this XC40 Recharge Pure Electric model a difficult car to ignore if you're seeking a premium compact crossover that allows you to more easily make that seismic switch to EV motoring. It's an electric vehicle; and now one with a bit more of a spark.