- Doors and Seats
5 doors, 5 seats
Perm Magnet, LI
- Engine Power
72h 0m chg, 450km range
1 Spd Auto
5 Yr, Unltd KMs
- Ancap Safety
5/5 star (2018)
Volvo is on a mission to be a fully-electric car company by 2030, and the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric takes the brand’s first big step in a very familiar way.
- A simple purchase – choose your colour and drive. The lack of options complexity a welcome change
- Google software suite is nicely implemented
- Easy to drive, easy to use, easy to like
- Performance is impressive, but do we really need 300kW in this?
- Elements that clearly carry over from petrol XC40 dull the EV benefits
- Kind of a silly name
Taking a good car and making it electric is a well-trodden path on our journey to the next phase of petrol-less motoring.
For the manufacturer, this makes good financial sense, and for the buyer it makes good adoption sense. After all, what path to change could be easier than a new-power version of the car you already know.
As tested, the XC40 RPE (a nickname that is much easier to type) is priced from $76,990 before on-road costs. There are no options, other than which of the eight colours you prefer, with ours in an icy Glacier Silver.
Identified only by subtle badging and an aerodynamic blanking grille, it features a pair of electric motors and a 78kWh battery pack, which equate to 300kW and 660Nm output and a WLTP claimed range of 418km.
A contrasting black turret with a panoramic sunroof, 20-inch wheels and 150kW DC fast charging capability are all included in the initial single specification.
However, a facelift and model split (300kW dual motor and 170kW single motor) is due next month, so before they arrive we felt it was worth a quick look at the car that firmly put a Swedish flag on the global EV map.
On the inside, the XC40 RPE could be any other high-specification XC40, which is both good and not so good.
It’s still beautifully built with high-quality materials, and there are some lovely touch points too. The LED reading lamps are touch-operated, and the swipe feature on the roof blind makes using it on the move nice and easy.
But, there’s still a thick transmission tunnel along the floor which means the car is limited in rear space (even for a small SUV) if you are running five up.
Stick to four-pax though and the outside rear seats offer good head and leg room, plus there is a central armrest, air vents and USB ports, and the seats are both heated. There are ISOFIX mounting points too.
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For storage, there’s a 452-litre boot, which is only a tiny bit smaller than the 460-litre cargo area in a regular XC40. The seats still fold in a 60:40 split and include a fold-down ski port for longer items.
You have a 31-litre storage tub in the front too, which is a great place to keep your charging cables and other bits and bobs.
Up front, the seats are both powered and heated and offer excellent support and comfort. The steering wheel is heated too.
|2022 Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric|
|Boot volume||452L seats up / 1295L seats folded|
Infotainment and Connectivity
Powering the technology in the XC40 RPE is Android Automotive, Google’s fully-integrated infotainment platform.
Put simply, it takes the power of your phone and puts it in your car. The interface is very simple to use and in many ways mimics your smartphone from pinch and swipe all the way to downloading apps to personalize your experience.
You have the full power of Google’s voice assistant which can answer questions about the car as well as navigation and infotainment functions.
The car has its own mobile modem, so can answer internet-based queries and even receive over-the-air software updates. If you log into your Google account, the car knows what your day looks like and can help guide you to your next meeting.
In terms of implementation, the fully digital 12.3-inch instrument cluster is clean and offers really sleek navigation integration, but that’s about it. The rest of the information is minimalism personified.
There are no ways to change or personalise the display. You get what you get.
All the climate control functions are accessed through the 9-inch vertical central screen, as are driver assistance settings and other vehicle functions.
Finding your way around can be a bit tricky, and you do tend to get lost in menus not knowing how to get back to the main screen.
There’s a Harman Kardon sound system, and a high-resolution surround-view camera, too.
It all works well, and you get used to the intricacies of voice control the more time you spend with the car. The Google account integration is quite neat, as it remembers what you’ve been looking at on Google Maps on your phone or computer and allows you to quickly access recent destinations and the like.
We had a couple of issues with connectivity outages, which points to the reliance on the car’s own data connection, but would imagine this is something that would only face drivers well off the beaten path.
The Volvo XC40 received a five-star ANCAP rating when it was tested in 2018. It scored very highly for occupant protection (97 per cent) and for child protection (84 per cent) but was let down by some of its assistance technology and road user (pedestrian and cyclist) protection.
There is no junction-assist AEB or rear cross-traffic automatic braking, but all other forward systems are present.
The adaptive cruise control system and lane-keeping aids work well and the XC40 is a breeze to drive on the freeway,
When tested, this twin-motor XC40 Recharge Pure Electric was priced from $76,990 but the facelift will bring both a $2500 price rise for this specification ($79,490) as well as a 170kW single-motor variant for $72,990 plus on-road costs.
This still makes the XC40 well priced among cars like the Tesla Model Y ($72,300 for rear-drive) and range-topping Kia Niro GT-Line ($72,100), particularly because you don’t have to add any extra goodies to the already highly equipped car.
The car is offered with complimentary servicing for the first three years (or 100,000km) as well as a five-year warranty and eight years of roadside assistance.
Energy use is claimed at 18.7kWh per 100km but ours was around the 24kWh/100km mark which means our maximum range would have been around 312km, about 25 per cent down on the 418km claim.
A 240-volt portable charger is included with the car which will top up around 2.4kW of the 78kWh battery every 60 minutes. So even if you leave it for ten hours at night, you’re only a third of the way there. But if you are doing around 30 to 40km of driving per day and always top up the car of an evening, it’s easy to maintain a full or near-full battery all the time.
On a public charger, the XC40 can recharge up to 150kW DC.
|At a glance||2022 Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric|
|Warranty||Five years / unlimited km|
|Service intervals||24 months or 30,000km|
|Servicing costs||Complimentary (3 years)|
While there are plenty of ‘this is the same as every other XC40’ moments, the driving experience of the RPE changes the moment you sit down.
Essentially, this is the signal to the car that you are ready to drive. There’s no key or power button or switches to activate the car, it knows you are in the seat and simply powers up accordingly.
The dashboard comes to life, the menus load on the touch screen, and you’re ready to simply engage DRIVE (or REVERSE if you need to back out) and be on your way.
For clarity, although quite obvious when you think about it, the twin electric motors mean the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric is all-wheel drive. In turn, this means when you stomp on the accelerator in a decidedly un Volvo-like way, that maximum power push of 300kW can get to the ground and propel you forward very quickly.
The little Volvo can hit 100km/h in less than five seconds. That’s really un Volvo-like, so much so that the XC40 RPE is the fastest Volvo ever produced.
Normally I’d be proclaiming this an amazing milestone and suggesting a serve of those IKEA meatballs for everyone, but this isn’t really the car for brain-melting performance. It’s great and all, but I think the forthcoming 170kW single-motor XC40 will be the smarter and more popular purchase.
I only say this as it can come as quite a shock the first time you discover how swift the XC40 can be. It can be a shock to others too. Let’s just say it’s fun at the lights.
Drive is through a single-speed transmission, and there are no paddles for regeneration or settings for sports modes or the like. It’s like this that the XC40 is particularly simple.
You just drive it.
There are adjustments for the friction level of single-pedal driving, which are worth playing with to find out which one suits your taste. Once you get the hang of how it all works, the one-pedal approach, especially in the city, is a pleasant way to drive.
Vision is good all around, and its just as happy gliding through traffic as it is on the higway.
Steering is nicely weighted, but you can feel the heaviness of the car (2158kg against 1710kg of the T5 petrol car), and the big 20-inch wheels do make the ride firm and occasionally jarring over bigger edges.
It’s still very comfortable and great on a touring drive, but 19-inch wheels and a slightly taller sidewall might be a bit better for mixed surface driving.
Above all else though, the electric XC40 retains the majority of the premium feeling and driving enjoyment served by the petrol models. It’s an easy car to live with and an excellent starting point for any electric car buyer.
|Key details||2022 Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric|
|Power||300kW / 78kWh battery|
|Drive type||All-wheel drive|
|Power to weight ratio||139kW/t|
|Tow rating||1500kg braked|
As a car, the XC40 is stylish, well built, well-featured and importantly, it carries a sense of ‘specialness’ that buyers want in a prestige SUV. All of this translates exceptionally well to the electric platform, with the optionless purchase only making this an even more appealing proposition.
As an EV, the XC40 does the majority of what is asked and expected, especially at this early stage of the electric revolution. There’s brisk performance, decent range and simplicity in operation, again making the car hugely appealing.
That it is still compromised by its petrol brethren, and perhaps a little too much the all-in champion for the brand’s electric push is less significant, as it gives buyers who aren’t usually known for being early adopters a way to make an exciting transition without any stress.
Sure, the ride is firmer than we would like, the Android Automotive system isn’t perfect, it feels heavy, and is arguably faster than it needs to be (which feels odd even to say), but the Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric, long name aside, is an excellent electric car for buyers today, and a great way to prepare them for the cars of tomorrow.
2022 Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric Wagon
Interior Comfort & Packaging
Infotainment & Connectivity