Volvo EX30 reader test team
As the Swedish brand enters uncharted territory with its smallest electric SUV to date, we ask the members of our reader jury to give their verdicts...
The EX30 small SUV is set to be Volvo’s most affordable electric car (EV). In fact, when the Volvo EX30 goes on sale early next year, it’ll be the least expensive new Volvo full stop. And while the design of the EX30 features familiar Volvo styling cues, it’s actually based on the same underpinnings as the Smart #1, a model that we gave five stars.
Like the #1, the EX30 is offered with a single 268bhp motor that drives the rear wheels, or as a 422bhp four-wheel-drive variant with a Tesla Model Y-challenging 0-62mph time of 3.6sec.
However, the EX30 differentiates itself from the #1 when it comes to its battery. While the #1 comes solely with a 62kWh (usable) battery, the EX30 can be had with either a 49kWh battery or a larger, 64kWh unit. The latter increases the official range of single-motor EX30s from 231 miles to 298 miles. Twin-motor cars get the larger battery and a 286-mile range.
EX30 prices start at £33,795 for the 49kWh version, undercutting the cheapest #1. A 64kWh EX30 will set you back at least £38,545 – a similar price to our favourite mid-range #1.
We invited our readers to inspect a pre-production EX30, to find out whether it deserves to be a hit.
“I’m looking for a new car to replace my Skoda Scala. I need something with a good amount of interior space, because I have two tall, grown-up children, neither of whom drives, so I often end up picking them up and driving them around. I think they’d have plenty of room in the EX30.
“I also do a lot of gardening, and that involves plenty of trips to the rubbish tip, so I need a car with a good-sized boot. I’ve looked at the Smart #1 but was put off that car because its boot seems rather small. I’ve read that the EX30’s boot is bigger, but looking at it, it doesn’t have the depth I need for bulky green waste.
“Inside, the EX30 is really impressive. I especially like the quality feel of the interior trim and other fixtures. And I love the design of the rear door armrests and the fact that it has proper door handles rather than buttons.
“I’m not convinced by the idea of having to control so many functions via the touchscreen, though; it could mean your eyes are kept off the road for too long while you’re making adjustments.”
Star rating 5
“I’m very interested in cars, particularly electric models, and am keen to see if the EX30 could be a fitting replacement for my BMW i3. I love the EX30’s design; I think it’s very handsome, with its chunky exterior styling.
“The interior looks chic and sophisticated, too, and the plastics used feel very durable. There are a few little niggles, though, such as the centrally mounted glovebox, which is fairly small and a bit inaccessible, and I’d prefer larger bottle holders in the doors that could accommodate a large water bottle or Thermos flask.
“My wife and I often carry a pair of foldable bicycles in the boot of our i3; they wouldn’t fit into the EX30’s boot unless the rear seats were folded down.
“It’s also a shame it doesn’t have a proper boot up front like my Tesla’s frunk; there’s only a small cubby for the charging cables. That’s a shame when you consider that its rear boot isn’t huge.
“Despite these issues, I think the EX30 represents a great package at what is a relatively low starting price for an EV.”
Star rating 4
Drives Renault Kadjar
“I’m thinking of replacing my Kadjar and am looking for something that’s a bit different. I’m also considering switching to a pure electric vehicle and wonder if the EX30 would fit the bill. I like its design, inside and out, and I love the rimless door mirrors, which look very elegant.
“There are some neat design features inside, too. For one thing, having the gear selector on a stalk keeps the centre console uncluttered, and it means you can change between drive and reverse with your fingertips – handy when you’re manoeuvring in a tight car park, for example.
“The driver’s seat is comfy and the EX30 has enough space for me to feel relaxed behind the wheel, but it doesn’t feel as roomy in the back seats as my Kadja r. And, although the floor in front of the rear seats is nicely flat, it seems a bit high compared with the seats themselves.
“I like that there’s a simple button on the dashboard to open the tailgate remotely. In some cars, you have to rummage around to find it when you’re in a rush to open it.
“I ’m not sure about the air vents on the EX30’s dashboard, though; they look and feel a bit cheap compared with the rest of the interior.”
Star rating 4
Job Quantity surveyor
“My Tesla Model 3 is a company car, so I’d like to know whether the Volvo EX30 deserves a place on my shortlist when the time comes to replace it.
“I have three young children, so although it wouldn’t replace our Citroën MPV as the family wagon, my next car would still be expected to take on family duties from time to time. While the EX30 is much smaller than the Citroën, I reckon it would tackle shorter journeys without too much trouble.
“The 64kWh version of the EX30 can officially go farther on a charge than my Model 3, and that’s enough for me. However, switching away from Tesla would mean giving up access to the Supercharger network, which has helped make charging the Tesla so easy. In fact, I’ve only had to queue up to plug in once the whole time I’ve owned it.
“As for the exterior design, I think the EX30 looks fantastic from every angle. I’m very keen on how futuristic it looks. I certainly prefer its angular styling to the Smart #1’s more bulbous appearance.
“If the EX30 ends up getting a good What Car? rating, I’ll try to test drive one before I hand my Model 3 back next March.”
Star rating 5
Drives Lexus LS400
“I was interested to see the new EX30 because, although my Lexus is lovely, I know that I ought to change it for a smaller, more economical car soon, and this new Volvo seems like it might be ideal for a retired couple.
“I think the overall design of the car is great, and I like the finish in most places, too. However, I did notice that although the base of the under-bonnet storage area is neatly covered by plastic trim and looks like a good place to keep the charging cables, the underside of the bonnet itself has been left bare and looks a bit unfinished, which is a pity. This may be because the car is a preproduction model, though.
“I’m used to a much larger car, but – at just over six feet tall – there’s just about enough space in the EX30 for me to get comfortable behind the wheel. However, anyone who has to sit directly behind me will find legroom on the tight side, because I need to slide the driver’s seat quite a long way back.
“I do like how the infotainment system is presented, and it has clear icons that should be simple to use. On the other hand, I do worry about the fact that all the major functions depend on it, because that can be distracting when you’re on the move.”
Star rating 4
Drives Nissan X-Trail
“I regularly find myself carrying either a wheelchair or a boot full of gardening equipment, so practicality is important to me. The EX30 feels surprisingly spacious up front and in the rea r, despite its compact dimensions. Howeve r, the boot is quite small, so I would struggle to squeeze everything in, especially if I had to carry passengers in the back.
“I think the EX30 looks really good. In fact, I already had my eye on the XC40 Recharge, so I was pleased to see some of that car’s design features translated onto the EX30.
“Volvo has a history of leading the way when it comes to safety, and I was pleased to discover that the EX30 has been fitted with a wide range of safety features, including automatic systems that help to prevent collisions with vulnerable road users.
“For instance, in addition to automatic emergency braking, the car can apply steering to avoid pedestrians and cyclists in emergency situations. There’s also a system that will warn the driver if they’re about to open their door into the path of an oncoming cyclist.
“Inside, the EX30 doesn’t seem much less spacious than the bigger XC40, but I found the latter easier to get in and out of, because it sits that bit higher.”
Star rating 4
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