Volvo’s smallest SUV was originally unveiled way back in 2017. Critically acclaimed, it picked up several awards including the prestigious European Car of the Year title.
Initially available with diesel and petrol engines, a plug-in hybrid soon came along, followed by a 100% electric model in 2020, marketed as the Volvo XC40 Recharge.
Slotting in beneath the mega XC90 seven-seater and XC60 mid-sized crossover in the Volvo range, the XC40 Recharge is up against formidable EV rivals including the Tesla Model Y, Audi Q4 e-tron, Kia Niro EV and BMW iX1.
Handsome in a chunky way, the XC40 is brimming with minimalist Scandi chic inside, whilst sporting a premium feel and impressive build quality.
With no combustion engine, the main visual difference between the XC40 Recharge and regular XC40 models is the solid front grille.
The interior is like its bigger siblings with an attractive layout including a 9.0-inch touchscreen in the centre console and a slick 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster ahead of the driver.
It’s also fitted with the latest version of Volvo’s superb infotainment system, jointly developed with Google and based on the Android operating system.
So now there’s access to Google Play apps and services like Google Assistant and Google Maps. It’s also capable of over-the-air updates, which means the car is constantly kept up to speed with the latest software.
The voice commands (prompted by “Hey Google”) usefully cut down on the swiping, pinching and scrolling otherwise needed to control the features within touchscreen.
There’s plenty of space too, up front and at the back (taller passengers included), while the overall finish is faultless. Our only slight quibble would be that even with the driver’s seat at its lowest setting, it’s a little on the high side for taller people, though others might call it a commanding driving position.
Boot space is excellent, stretching from 452 litres to 1,328 litres if you fold down the 60/40 rear seats. There’s also an extra 31 litres of ‘frunk’ space under the bonnet, which is handy for storing the charging cable or small bags.
Among the multitude of safety systems on board, there’s City Safety, Volvo’s Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) system which can detect pedestrians, cyclists and large animals, plus Oncoming Lane Mitigation, which warns you if you move out of your lane into the path of an oncoming vehicle and helps steer you safely back into your lane.
The Volvo XC40 Recharge is priced from £46,505 and is currently only available with a single electric motor driving the front-wheel drive, though (in theory) all-wheel drive dual motor versions are offered too.
We tested the former which comes with a 67kWh battery and an electric motor developing 228bhp and a range of up to 262 miles.
Performance is brisk with a 0-62mph time of 7.4 seconds and a top speed of 99mph.
If you can find a 150kW rapid public charger it will take just 32 minutes for a 10-80% boost, while a 0-100% charge via an 11kW home wallbox is possible in 11 hours.
Driving the XC40 Recharge is a doddle. Use the keyless entry system to jump in, put your foot on the brake, select Drive and you’re away.
Not only is it smooth and refined, but it’s no slouch either. In fact, it makes more sense than the dual motor version (which we have also driven), which almost feels unnecessary fast for a crossover (0-62mph in 4.9 seconds).
The FWD version is also slightly lighter and feels more nimble. It’s not marketed as a performance SUV, so don’t expect sporty driving dynamics, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had.
Push it on faster, more challenging corners and there’s a little body lean, but it’s manageable and overall the XC40 is an absolute pleasure to drive and feels well planted.
You can choose between regular driving or ‘one-pedal’ which features far more aggressive regeneration, allowing the car to come to a halt without pressing the brakes.