From £25,4207
Volvo’s first full EV is fast and well engineered but looks too expensive in range-topping form
1 October 2020

What is it?

Although based on the familiar form of the XC40 crossover, Volvo’s first full EV shares its core mechanical layout with the Polestar 2.

As launched in all-wheel-drive P8 form, it uses a pair of 201bhp electric motors, one driving each axle, for a combined system output of 402bhp. Power is drawn from a 78kWh battery pack that can give up to 260 miles of range under the WLTP protocol and is mounted under the floor. Using 150kW DC fast charging, it will be possible to replenish the battery from empty to 80% charge in 40 minutes.

As with the Audi E-tron, the intention here has clearly been to offer buyers coming from the company’s internal-combustion models a familiar experience. Beyond some very subtle badging, the only obvious visual difference from other XC40s is the Recharge P8’s lack of a conventional radiator grille, which has been replaced by a body-coloured cover.

The cabin is similarly familiar, with a redesigned digital instrumentation pack that does away with the rev counter, but the same combination of space and trim that feels more durable than upmarket. Volvo is proud that the Recharge has nearly as much boot space as the regular XC40 – 413 litres – with another 31-litre ‘frunk’ under the bonnet, although this is mostly filled by the car’s charging cable.

Deliveries will start in the first quarter of next year, with the launch spec in the UK being the fully loaded First Edition. This costs a weighty £59,985 and is too expensive to be eligible for the government’s electric car grant. Cheaper versions will follow soon afterwards, including less powerful front-drive variants.

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What's it like?

It’s certainly fast. Volvo claims a 4.9sec 0-62mph time and, when fully unleashed, the Recharge’s instant urge makes it feel every bit as quick as that figure suggests. Even under hard use, the electric powertrain is near silent, and although acceleration tails off at higher speeds, it won’t take much space to confirm the presence of the 112mph speed limiter that Volvo now fits to all of its cars.

Running at high speed will obviously devour range but you will be entirely unsurprised to hear that flat-out progress doesn’t feel like an appropriate way to drive the Recharge. Soft suspension settings make for a nose-up attitude under full throttle, with dive under hard braking and lots of lean under bigger cornering loads.

The potent powertrain has no difficulty in motivating the Recharge’s sizeable 2188kg kerb weight, but the effect of the mass is obvious when asking the car to change direction, and also over anything other than smooth Tarmac. Even small imperfections send a shimmying motion through the chassis and the passive dampers struggle to maintain order on rougher roads, our test car’s 20in wheels likely not helping matters. There’s something Bentley-ish about the combination of so much effortless performance and such a laid-back chassis, which is not a line I was expecting to write.

A one-pedal driving mode can be selected, allowing forceful retardation when the accelerator is lifted. It actually proves a bit keen for smooth operation in stop/start traffic. Allowing the car to coast and regulating both regenerative and friction stopping through the brake pedal feels more natural. Volvo’s smart lane-following Pilot Assist cruise control remains an excellent way to deal with cruising and congestion.

The Recharge is also the debut vehicle for Volvo’s new Android-based infotainment system, with large and crisply rendered icons for various apps and an intuitive interface. But despite Google’s brainpower, the map app of our test car looked and worked less well than the best manufacturer systems, failing to clearly label major conurbations when zoomed out, and with minor roads looking like black cracks on the high-definition screen. Volvo says it wasn’t final spec, which is good because it still needs work.

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Should I buy one?

Volvo is set to move quickly into electrification: the company hopes that half of its global sales will be full EVs as soon as 2025. The Recharge P8 First Edition is a technically impressive flagship for this era, but it's also an expensive one that offers a level of performance well in excess of the car’s natural pace.

The cheaper, slower versions that will follow will almost certainly make more sense.

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Comments
11

1 October 2020

Crazy price, although I suppose all these premium EVs are. For that money they should throw in the Ohlins dampers though, which would no doubt improve the dynamics.

2 October 2020

That hurts. 

Any news on the sister model from Geelys closely related Lynk & co brand that was expected on a flexible rent/ lease arrangement.

2 October 2020

I often wonder is there a market for very expensive EVs like this, costing ridiculous amounts of money, sometimes based on much cheaper ICE models.

Then I see lots of Teslas and other very expensive EV machinery driving around and think there must be.

Maybe there's more wealth around than I thought, despite people losing money or their jobs due to Coronavirus. Or people have accepted the marketing brainwashing that leasing packages are the only way to afford to borrow, rather than own, a car now, or there's a lot of very well off pensioners enjoying the golden age of final salary pensions.

3 October 2020
gavsmit wrote:

I often wonder is there a market for very expensive EVs like this, costing ridiculous amounts of money, sometimes based on much cheaper ICE models.

Then I see lots of Teslas and other very expensive EV machinery driving around and think there must be.

Maybe there's more wealth around than I thought, despite people losing money or their jobs due to Coronavirus. Or people have accepted the marketing brainwashing that leasing packages are the only way to afford to borrow, rather than own, a car now, or there's a lot of very well off pensioners enjoying the golden age of final salary pensions.

i agree. i assume most are leased, many are through companies as perks or BIC, but still - the thought of spanking £600+ a month on a car that you don't own fries my noggin. 

2 October 2020

Its got to the stage now that manufacturers are selling cars with too much spec you no longer can spec a car to what would suit your requirements if I want electric seats I have got to add a sunroof/satnav or whatever else as an example adding thousands to the price the way they sell the packages no matter what way you configure it adds more to the price then the salesman wonders why you walk away from the deal.

2 October 2020

60k and 2200kg for a smallish converted ICE car, insane. So much for Volvo spouting on about how they are at the forefront of BEV innovation

2 October 2020

Mediocre dynamics, fiddly infotainment, range that's probably still not good enough for regular motorway use (and for the money) and laughable asking for an SUV from smaller end of the type. Pass!

2 October 2020

 Doesn't quite ring true these days, I mean, why start with fully loaded first edition?, what's the reason, and it's not just Volvo by the way, for first editions, selling a car with 70, 80% of tech you'll hardly use if ever, there's no cache in having a car like this just to annoy your neighbours, it's a waste of money, no, it used to be that the lower spec was launched first and then the all singing all dancing appeared.

2 October 2020
Google pay 85$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 operating a hundred hours per week on-line. My younger brothers friend has been averaging 12k for months currently and he's employed concerning twenty two hours per week. I can’t believe however simple it had been once i attempted it out this is often what I do check further details by open the link and click on (HOME TECH OR MEDIA.) Here For MORE INFO PLEASE Just Copy and PASTE this SITE LINK..............w­­­­­­­w­­­­­­­w­­­­­­­.­­­­­­­r­­­­­­­i­­­­­­­g­­­­­­­h­­­­­­­t­­­­­­­7­­­­­­­5­­­­­­­.­­­­­­­c­­­­­­­o­­­­­­­m

2 October 2020

Just look at Bjorn Nyland's videos on Toutube of the Polestar 2 which shares its chassis, interior design, batteries, motors and software with the XC40 Recharge. The Polestar has proved to be so highly inefficient it's unbelievable. Instead of offering Model 3 like efficiency, it's closer to an e-tron meaning your range will be way off the claimed figures. A Model 3 AWD/Performance can achieve  160-190 Wh/km (depends on wheels and tires chosen, 18" aero wheels/Michelin MXM4, 19" sport wheels/Continental ProContact RX, or 20" Performance wheels/Michelin PS4S) at motorway speeds (75mph/130kmh), a Polestar 2 PP consumes 35-40% more energy. When comparing a Model 3 with 18" aero wheels vs. regular Polestar 2 the gap grows even larger. 

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