Why we ran it: To see if the Volvo XC40 Recharge, Volvo's smallest battery-powered SUV, can be a motorway commuter and weekend companion
Our five-month test has uncovered pros and cons about life with this likeable EV - 21 June 2022
We wondered how well Volvo’s stylish-looking XC40 Recharge would cope with varied real-world daily use when it arrived six months and 7300 miles ago. Now we know the answer: very well. But the detail of life with an XC40 is more nuanced than that and some aspects in its end-of-term report carry the verdict ‘could do better’.
We’ve certainly put it through its paces. Over the past half year, Volvo’s smallest SUV (until the recently revealed EX30 arrives next year) has undergone a whole series of tests to see if it can be a solid motorway commuter as well as an easy-to-use weekend buddy – from chucking bikes in the surprisingly large seats-down 1289-litre boot to towing tiles.
So what, in the face of extensive competition, sets the £46,505 (ours is £53,525) single-motor XC40 Recharge apart? Because this electric SUV sits in a burgeoning segment, with rivals galore ranging from Ford’s Mustang Mach-E to the Skoda Enyaq iV 60.
Offering something different from these – and tempting buyers away from possibly better-value, ICE offerings such as the Audi Q3 and DS 7 – is no easy task, especially when the total range figure is most likely to be the key selling point, rather than how the car drives. Our XC40’s 69kWh battery (67kWh is usable) offered a rather middling top end of 240 miles – and as low as 170 in very cold January weather. In its slipperier C40 sibling this rises, but the bluffer SUV suffers.
However, the XC40 available to order now has been tuned to deliver greater efficiency than our earlier model, and it now sends its power to the rear wheels for improved battery performance. As a result, says Volvo, it is capable of achieving 3.7 miles per kWh, up from 3.4mpkWh, giving a claimed range of 290 miles from the same battery pack. There’s also a power boost, with a 234bhp powertrain replacing our model’s 228bhp motor.
In practice, the new car feels no different to drive than the old one, except that you can now drive it for longer between charges. Which is probably the best compliment you can give. So good news.