Volvo XC40 Recharge First Drive Review

Published On Apr 05, 2022 By Tushar for Volvo XC40 Recharge

A lot stays the same with the XC40’s electric alter ego but the drive experience is a whole new world!

“There is no long-term future for cars with an internal combustion engine” - Henrik Green, chief product officer, Volvo cars. It’s a reality that’s catching up with us faster than we’d have expected, especially with fuel prices setting new upsetting records on a daily basis. Of course, fuel prices affect luxury car buyers as well. Having deep pockets won’t make you look forward to them getting shallower.

However, the luxury EV space has largely been focused on the Rs 1 crore club. The Volvo XC40 Recharge kickstarts the compact luxury electric car space, making electrified mobility more accessible to luxury car customers. On the surface, it does everything like the petrol-powered XC40 but the experience changes dramatically once you’re behind the wheel.

Looks

First, a disclaimer - the car you see here is not the one that’ll be delivered to you, should you book one. Indian customers will get the global facelift and while bookings open from July 2022, deliveries can only be expected in October.

But update or not, the theme is similar. The core design of the XC40 stays exactly the same with its boxy lines and squared-off edges, with the only discernible difference with the Recharge being the body coloured panel that replaces the front grille and the ‘Recharge Twin’ badging you’ll spot on the tailgate. It also rides on 19-inch rims that add to the SUV’s confident stance and unlike the standard XC40, it has wider tyres at the rear (255/45) than the front (235/50).

With the battery pack in the undercarriage, the unladen ground clearance does dip to 175mm (instead of 210mm) with the other dimensions remaining largely the same. Unfortunately, the red colour you see of the pre-facelift car we had on test won’t be available but you can choose from Fjord Blue, Sage Green, Crystal White, Onyx Black and Thunder Grey, all with a contrast-painted black roof as standard.

Interior

Nope, no green or blue highlights or the word ‘Recharge’ spattered through the cabin. The XC40 Recharge feels just like the XC40 on the inside. The cabin design is unique to Volvo cars with a quirky use of squares and rectangles for bits like the door handles and AC vents. What you won’t see is any starter button to go with the smart key. Eerily, the car detects the key and is ready to drive off once you’re in. The lack of a defined start/stop action is a bit odd but it’s kinda cool too. 

FYI - The car makes no use of animal-derived leather

As you’d expect, the material quality is top notch and the approach is extremely clutter-free. Most of the features are operated through the 9-inch touchscreen which can be a bit fiddly to use at times but the Android OS means it’s very phone-like to navigate through. With Google in-built, you can use voice commands to operate the system and even use Google Maps.

Also ReadVolvo Brings The Facelifted XC60 And S90 To India

FYI - The sunroof gets touch-based controls like the new S-Class

The driving position is tall and gives you a commanding view of the road with good seat support as well. Like we saw with the XC40, the cabin itself is roomy but the rear seatback is a little too upright while the seat base is a touch too short. 

For a detailed walkthrough of the interior, do read our earlier report

Features

Powered front seats with driver memory

Panoramic sunroof

Two-zone climate control

Rear AC vents

Wireless phone charger

14-speaker Harman Kardon sound system

Connected Car Tech

12.3-inch digital instrument cluster

Safety

In addition to seven airbags, ABS with EBD, ESP, hill-hold and hill-descent control, the XC40 recharge also gets a 360-degree camera and a full suite of advanced driver assistance systems - adaptive cruise control, cross traffic alert, auto emergency braking, lane-keeping aid and blind-spot monitoring will be offered as standard.

Also ReadHow the New Scrappage Policy Can Help In Driving Down Insurance Premium for Older Cars

Of course, these features are very helpful but are best suited to European conditions. In India, you may find the systems hyper-reactive. In our drive from Delhi to Rajasthan and back, we had to deactivate adaptive cruise control on a few occasions because it would brake far too early and too hard due to a car several hundred metres ahead suddenly changing directions or merging. This increases the risk of the driver behind you being caught off guard since there was nothing to suggest you needed to brake in the first place. 

Boot

With the XC40 Recharge, it’s a case of EV giveth and EV taketh away. With no engine under the bonnet, there’s a 31-litre storage pocket in the engine bay (front trunk or frunk). However, while you still have a 460-litre boot, the space-saver spare tyre is placed here, eating up almost all the usable space.

Motor & Performance

Here is where a simple addition of the word ‘Recharge’ changes the experience of the XC40 altogether. 408PS and 660Nm sound good in the spec sheet of a sports car but here, they’ve been blended into a practical family SUV.

The result is a car that goes from 0-100kmph in 4.9 seconds and it certainly feels quick from the seat. With all-wheel drive, that grunt is put down cleanly as well. Just jab the pedal a little hard to be thrown back into your seat as a bewildered smile shows up on your face. There’s a near motorcycle-like agility that this kind of acceleration gives you while filtering your way through traffic.

What may seem odd, however, is the lack of regenerative braking modes or even drive modes, the latter being offered on the regular XC40 itself. Instead, keeping it simple, the XC40 Recharge is throttle dependent. Drive normally and it’s smooth. If you want to gain speed more urgently, just go heavy on the accelerator.

What you do get is a one-pedal mode that’s accessed through the drive settings menu in the infotainment system. Ideally, this should have been a button or toggle switch readily available. This mode activates regenerative braking as soon as you start easing off the throttle. The more you let off, the harder the braking force. 

And the relationship is very direct i.e. while slamming the throttle makes you accelerate hard, letting off the throttle completely will make the car brake equally as hard, so you need to adapt to this behaviour. Once you get the hang of it, you can use it in the city and highway. In fact, on our drive, we traveled from Delhi to Rajasthan and back without ever touching the brake and this mode teaches you to be more mindful with your right foot. It also cuts down reaction time in the event of emergency braking.

Model

XC40 Recharge

Battery Capacity

78kWh 

DC Fast Charge time 0-80 percent

150kW - 40 minutes

50kW (India-relevant) - 2-2.5 hours

AC Fast Charge time 0-100 percent

8-10 hours with 11kW AC fast charger (available with car)

Volvo claims a WLTP-rated range of 418km from the 78kWh battery, which does seem realistically achievable with a combined city-highway cycle.

Ride & Handling

The car is tuned to deliver ride comfort over outright driving dynamics, and you will feel its weight during quick lane changes. Bump absorption is good and it's only over the really rough stuff that you’ll need to take it easy.

Verdict

The Volvo XC40 was already a favourite for us in its segment, for its combination of style, features, comfort and quality. The XC40 Recharge simply packages those same likeable values with the benefits of an electric powertrain.

Of course, at its expected price of Rs 60-65 lakh, there are segment-above options available if you still choose petrol power, the bigger XC60 itself becoming an option. But as a balance between EV excitement and luxury car opulence, the XC40 Recharge is hard to fault.

Volvo XC40 Recharge

Variants*Ex-Showroom Price New Delhi
P8 AWD (Electric)Rs.*

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