Electric Volvo XC40 Review – The future is here – TopAuto
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Saturday / 25 June 2022
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Electric Volvo XC40 Review – The future is here

Volvo’s recently-introduced electric XC40 – the upcoming P6 or the existing P8 – is one of the more impressive electric vehicles (EV) currently for sale in South Africa.

It does not try to blow you away with futuristic designs, artificially enhanced sounds, or in-your-face features.

Instead, the Volvo blends into your life with effortless usability and well-placed equipment so that using it quickly becomes second nature.

We recently spent a week in the range-topping XC40 P8 Recharge selling for R1,260,000 and at times it made us forget that it was completely battery-powered.

Clean and simple

Both inside and out the Volvo XC40 P8 Recharge boasts a clean and contemporary design that is soft on the eyes yet angular and muscular.

The “Sage” paint that is exclusive to the battery-powered XC40s is certainly one of the highlights and pairs well with the black roof and two-tone 20-inch alloys to enhance the overall classy look.

Despite the relatively compact dimensions of the Volvo, the skillfully-positioned driver seat and unexpectedly spacious interior provide a commanding driving feel that is fitting for an SUV as well as generous front seat and boot space, although I had a passenger note that they were squeezed a bit tight on the rear bench.

Inside, though, attractive design elements and clever features are abundant. Only, in true Scandinavian style, they are masterfully packed away to offer a serene and uncluttered environment.

At first, the P8’s gadgets seem limited as there are few buttons and sub-menus to play with.

But you only need to press the unlabeled switches once to know what they do and you then realize there is plenty of functionality in the cabin, but it is implemented in a far less distracting manner than with many other manufacturers.

Most features and programmes are accessible through one button alone, and standard fitment includes a heated steering wheel and seats, online navigation with range integration, online music streaming, a Harman/Kardon sound system, a panoramic sunroof, and advanced driver assistance systems such as lane-keep assist and radar-based cruise control.

The interior is also ergonomically laid out with industry-leading leather seats caressing your body in ultimate comfort. The armrests aren’t too wide, narrow, short, or long, either, being the perfect distance away so that your shoulder is relaxed when making use of them.

On top of this, there are subtle additions that add to the pleasant user experience of this XC40, such as highly-responsive adaptive LED headlights that follow the steering wheel as you turn, a slot in the centre console made for your phone to stand in as well as a small removable waste bin behind it, spacious door pockets, and ambient lighting that doesn’t go on when it senses the key, but rather when it senses you getting in and out of the car.

The absence of a start button, although odd at first, is also a revelation once you get used to simply getting in the car, putting it in drive, and pulling away within a matter of seconds.

This is further enhanced by the one-pedal operation feature that brings the crossover to a standstill without needing to use the brakes at all, another unique benefit of a battery-motivated powertrain.

However, it also means this Volvo switches itself off not when coming to a standstill or when put in park, but only when it senses you get out of the driver seat again, which takes getting used to.

For all its brilliance, this XC40 does have a handful of drawbacks to be mindful of.

Since its infotainment system is running on the relatively new Android Automotive Operating System – not to be confused with the Android Auto smartphone mirroring app – it doesn’t support Apple CarPlay, meaning iPhone users are stuck with Bluetooth if they want to play music or take calls while on the move.

You also need to connect this system to a wireless hotspot, such as from a smartphone or mobile router, if you want to make use of online apps such as Spotify or live Google Maps.

Additionally, the digital instrument cluster is extremely simplistic, only showing the map or an all-black display alongside speed and consumption figures. No media information, no owner customisation, and no settings can be adjusted like with most other digital driver displays.

Finally, the dark privacy windows and lightly tinted wing mirrors make it a tad tougher than usual to see exactly what’s going on in the road behind you at night.

Sports car performance

The XC40 P8 Recharge’s official driving range is rated at 418km and with my driving style it wasn’t far off.

Even though this electric crossover has a sports car-rivaling output – 300kW/660Nm – it’s rather efficient, and the stated maximum driving range was generally within a few percent of the actual range it achieved.

This consistently increased consumption is mainly attributed to the use of climate control and seat heating.

As for the performance, the immediate torque and generous power levels make this Volvo an exciting EV to pilot as it can go from domesticated to untamed in a matter of milliseconds.

However, it’s still an “all-purpose vehicle” and as such, there is slight body roll whilst turning and the handling doesn’t quite compare to that of a sports car or super SUV with similar straight-line speed.

Throughout the 520 kilometres I put on the Volvo I charged it twice, coincidentally both times when it stood on 26%.

Charging took place at a Jaguar Powerway 60kW DC station in both instances, the most powerful plug in my immediate area, as there were no home-charging cables provided to test with.

In one hour and 29 minutes, the XC40 with its 78kWh battery charged from 26% to 94%, the available range going up from 80km to 310km during this time.

In comparison, the Jaguar I-Pace with a 90kWh pack rose from 19% to 87% and gained 276km in range when I charged it at the exact same plug and for the exact same duration.

After 200km the Volvo was on 26% again and this time it was left alone until fully juiced up, which took just under three hours.


The starting price of R1,260,000 for the Volvo XC40 P8 Recharge might make it seem like it’s situated among the most premium offerings on the market, but that is not the case.

The XC40 remains Volvo’s entry-level product and the bulk of what you’re actually paying is for the futuristic underpinnings it sits on, and not the amenities it brings.

As long as you keep this in mind, the XC40 P8 is a wonderfully usable, premium crossover with a satisfactory level of equipment and a spirited electric powertrain that wakes you up in the mornings better than any cup of coffee could dream of.

Volvo XC40 P8 Recharge

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