Volvo XC40 Recharge long term test: report 1

The Volvo XC40 Recharge is fully electric and based on a former What Car? Car of the Year, but what's it like to live with? We're finding out...

Volvo XC40 long termer

The car Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin AWD Ultimate | Run by Claire Evans, consumer editor

Why it's here To see if the pricey pure electric version of the XC40 is as much of a leader in the family SUV segment as its conventionally fuelled siblings were when they first went on sale

Needs to Be a safe, fault-free commuter car part of the week, and cope with the demands of rural family life without running out of range at the weekends

Mileage 1309 List price £61,855 Target Price £61,855 Price as tested £61,855 Official range 270 miles Test range 237 miles Options Sage Green metallic paint (£0)

17 April - Will I fall for a Swede? 

When you regularly watch cars being crashed into each other as part of your day job, and spend a large chunk of your time writing about the models that have a litany of costly faults, the importance of safety and reliability are really brought to the fore. 

So, while I love a car that’ll pirouette around roundabouts at speed and raise a smile on every stretch of winding country lane, I also need one that is going to do its best to help avoid traffic accidents and isn’t likely to leave me stranded at the roadside. 

Volvo XC40 Recharge long termer

The Volvo XC40 Recharge is a great choice on both of these counts, because it comes with a suite of active safety systems and has a solid reputation for dependability. But there’s more to like about Volvo’s smallest model. As proof, we voted the diesel Volvo XC40 the best family SUV and overall Car of the Year winner in 2018, because it was such a good all-rounder and excelled when it came to quality and comfort. 

But how does the pure electric Recharge version stack up against other electric SUVs? That’s the question I’m aiming to answer by living with a Recharge Twin. I chose the more powerful dual-motor, four-wheel-drive version because it has a longer range and more power than the single motor model. It costs far more – almost as much as larger electric SUVs, like the Audi Q8 e-tron and Jaguar I-Pace – but it’s equipped with everything most people will need. Even my car’s Sage Green metallic paint is a no-cost option, so I didn’t need to add any extras at all.  

On first impressions, the electric XC40 possesses many of the good qualities of the earlier petrol and diesel models. The driver’s seat in my Ultimate trim model has plenty of adjustment for height and lumbar support via electric buttons. 

Volvo XC40 Recharge long termer

The interior is smart in a slightly minimalistic Scandinavian way, with a customisable dash display and large touchscreen in the centre console. Like most new cars, many of the controls you need frequently are accessible only via the screen, but the icons for the air-con, heated seats and steering wheel are big and easy to reach making them simple to change on the move. And I’ve found the voice control feature for Google Assistant and Google Maps a great way to add navigation instructions and change radio stations. 

The XC40 does have a few foibles, though. The most annoying is that the car has no on/off button and simply turns itself on when your rear end hits the driver’s seat, and off when you get up. This is fine in good weather, but not when I have to sit inside the car on frosty mornings and wait for the screens to defrost. Unfortunately, the Volvo app doesn’t always let me warm up the car remotely, so I have had a couple of very cold starts.  

Another oddity is that you can’t see how many miles of range are left on the dash display. You need to go into the Range Assistant menu on the infotainment screen to see it. 

Volvo XC40 Recharge long termer

Quirks aside, the XC40 has been great to drive. Even though my Ultimate version is fitted 20in wheels, it has a supple ride that’s not too upset by potholes and expansion joints. Although it doesn’t have the handling prowess of a sports SUV, it’s not wallowy through corners. And it has seriously swift acceleration: it’ll complete the 0-62mph dash in 4.7sec, which is faster than many other electric SUVs. 

Cars evolve quickly these days, and because my XC40 took a whole year to arrive it’s not the latest incarnation of the pure electric model, which has a larger battery, giving it a longer official range of 334 miles and letting it charge up quicker. I’ll be making longer trips and assessing whether this is an issue in a future report. 

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