In the last couple of years, four-wheeler manufacturers have been slowly but steadily launching electric vehicles in different segments. Yes, the options are still limited, but it’s encouraging to see that the industry along with the government is seriously trying to pave the way for a carbon-neutral environment. The latest to join the bandwagon is Volvo with the XC40 Recharge. The compact SUV was supposed to be launched last year, but due to the pandemic, it was got delayed. The Scandinavian company is yet to reveal the prices for India, but going by how the XC40 Recharge is slotted in the international market, it will be an expensive proposition costing much for than its petrol trim, which is available for Rs 52.71 lakh, on-road price in Mumbai. Volvo has an ambitious plan to be completely carbon neutral by 2040 and this process has already started in India as they stopped selling diesel vehicles last year.
Watch Video | Volvo XC40 Recharge First Drive Review:
Pretty much flawless interiors
Before getting into the cabin’s details, we’d like to mention the XC40 Recharge is a keyless vehicle. Many will ask what’s the big deal in that as most cars have this option. Actually the SUV doesn’t have an ignition button rather the battery activates itself once you sit on the driver’s seat and buckle up. It’s really that simple, and even though it’s stating the obvious but all this can only happen when the key fob is safely tucked in your pocket.
When it comes to the cabin, the EV SUV is still very much a Volvo and the all-black interiors use soft-touch materials on the dashboard. The passenger side dash gets a funky design insert in the middle layer and the same is also used on the door side panels. It, honestly, looks quite classy and complements the metal finish vertical air condition vents. The XC40 Recharge goes all chic with touch buttons to control the panoramic roof and additional reading lights.
The big brother XC60 was one of the first Volvo vehicles to be equipped with a Google-based infotainment system and the XC40 Recharge follows suit. The advantage of this is that the in-built Google Maps takes into consideration not only the fastest route and distance but also how much battery power is available and where the vehicle can be recharged. As it comes standard with Google Assist via voice command, you can ask for the weather conditions or a specific location like the airport. The 9-inch vertical infotainment has a clean design. Where things start to become a bit complicated is when you click on the Settings option and you’re greeted with rows of features. Being a Google-based system, they could have thought outside the box and could have replaced them with icons because there are some important functions like accessing driving dynamics functions. If the heft of the steering wheel isn’t to your liking then you can increase it further by going to the driving dynamics section. There is also the One Pedal option, which is the regenerative braking system that we will explain in detail later. No prizes in guessing this Volvo SUV comes loaded with safety assistance options like adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation support, lane-keeping aid, blind spot assist, Rear Auto Brake system and much more.
Moving on to the 12.3-inch all-digital driver’s console, it has a simple design and makes it easy to read the virtual-navigation map, details of the battery, the speedometer and an energy recovery display. The instrument cluster only reads out the range of the battery in percentage, but there is a cheat code to this. There’s a range icon on the home screen of the infotainment system that tells how many kilometres the SUV can cover. Keeping both safety and convenience in mind, the EV also gets a 360-degree camera that is clear and shows each and every angle of the vehicle.
Even though it is the most compact SUV in the Volvo portfolio, the XC40 has plenty of cabin space, especially for the rear passengers. Neither the legroom nor the headroom is compromised, even though it gets a huge panoramic sunroof. The seats are very comfortable and offer very good back support, but the SUV can only seat two adults in the back. With a raised transmission tunnel, the middle seat is at best for a child for a short distance.
In terms of charging ports, the XC40 Recharge comes with a 12 Volt socket and two Type-C ports in the front and two more at the rear.
Don’t be deceived by its typical SUV looks, the XC40 Recharge is anything but bulky and slow. With a 78 kWh battery under the floor, it packs 402 bhp and a mind whopping 660 Nm of torque. It gets two motors based on each axle and has an all-wheel-drive system. According to Volvo, it has a blistering pace and can do 0-100km in just 4.9 seconds, which is sports car territory. The way the XC40 Recharge launches itself when you step on the accelerator pedal can be quite scary as it throws you back into the seat, courtesy of the prominent whiplash effect. One needs to be aware of the speed guns because before you know it the vehicle is cruising in the high three figures.
As we all know, with great power comes a limited kilometre range, but Volvo claims that the XC40 Recharge can offer a range of 418 km. When we were driving, the onboard computer was showing a range of 350 km with the battery capacity down to 75%, so we expect it to cover around 380 km at full capacity.
We would like to commend Volvo for not making the driving experience artificial or loaded with unnecessary tech like different types of driving modes. With so much power available on the tap of the pedal, how the SUV behaves is entirely up to you. If you want to comfortably cruise in the city then press the accelerator lightly and if you want to go all berserk then step on the pedal and hang on to the steering wheel as the world passes you by in a jiffy.
Volvo isn’t the kind of company that will be satisfied with a fire breathing machine that decimates its competition with raw power. They have also reduced the downtime of charging the battery and with a 150kW DC fast-charging port, it can recharge from zero to 80% in just 40 minutes. In India, though, as we get 50kW DC chargers, it can completely recharge with the vehicle in two and a half hours or so and for cent per cent charging with the standard 11kW AC charger, it takes around 8 hours.
Handles like a charm
With a battery under the floorboard, the Recharge is definitely heavier than its petrol version, but as it sits lower, it in tackles corners with full confidence. Once on the move, the additional weight and the dynamics of an SUV, all this flies out of the window as the XC40 Recharge feels nimble and agile. As it comes standard with an all-wheel-drive system, this ensures the SUV always has plenty of grip in corners and remains well-balanced.
On the hindsight, the suspension set up is on the firm side. On flat tarmac, the XC40 Recharge remains steady, but once it encounters broken roads or potholes, the passengers will be shaken and at times even stirred. On the highway and at high speeds, it remains stable like a rock.
Smart and efficient
The XC40 Recharge comes with the One Pedal option, which activates the regenerative braking system that automatically puts the brakes on the vehicle when you step off the accelerator. This allows the system to use the energy that it loses while decelerating to recharge the battery. It is very convenient, but it takes getting used to how it works.
With a lack of an engine under the hood, the Volvo SUV offers an additional 30 litres frunk, where charging cables can be placed for easy access. The boot, on the other hand, offers a decent space of over 450 litres, but it also stores a wheel-saver. The best way to utlise the area is to leave the spare wheel in the garage.
The Volvo XC40 Recharge is very much the total package. With its SUV design and capabilities, it is practical for our roads at the same it offers sports car-like performance. The SUV is built to last and comes with all the latest comfort and safety features. The ride quality is on the firm side, but its handling capabilities more than make up for that. It will all come down to brass tacks as it is expected to be priced high like other luxury EVs in India.