Volvo XC40 Recharge long term test: report 4

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 Recharge 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 3951 List price £61,855 Target Price £61,855 Price as tested £61,855 Official range 270 miles Test range 218 miles

15 June 2023 – Perfect for a short break

The Volvo XC40 Recharge has just chalked up a second long journey providing me with admirable comfort and minimal stress. This time it was a 130-mile trek to the north Norfolk coast for a weekend break. Our destination was a tiny village called Congham, which consists of a dozen houses, a pub and a church, so I was pretty anxious about being able to charge the car up without having to drive all the way over to the larger Gridserve charging station in nearby Norwich. 

Volvo XC40 Recharge long termer

It wasn’t anything to do with charging that caused delay and disruption on the outward journey, though. We stopped for a break at the M11 services near Stansted Airport and the combination of an accident and roadworks on the roundabout coming off the motorway had completely snarled up the traffic. The road into the services was so clogged we decided to give it a miss and stop somewhere else, but then got stuck for more than an hour in a monster traffic jam of cars, lorries and coaches all trying to leave the services via a single-lane road. 

Thankfully the XC40 had more than enough range to get us to Norfolk without having to charge up en-route, and we got to our destination with around 60 miles of range left. Although there were no public charging points in the village, the thoughtful property owner had installed an outdoor plug socket near the drive so we could charge the car up overnight.

Volvo XC40 Recharge long termer

As well as a Type two connector, which you'd use to plug into wall boxes and public charge points, the XC40 comes with a charger with a three-pin plug, so we could simply plug in. It was also handy to have a separate storage area for the charging leads in the car’s front boot, because this meant wet leads could be kept away from our luggage and I didn’t have to rummage around under the boot floor to get them out. 

The batteries were up to 60% the next morning – more than enough for exploring the locality. I could have used the 7kW public EV chargers at Holkham House, on the nearby beach or on the Sandringham Estate, but charging at night was easiest and provided enough of a top up. Our only visit to public chargers was a brief stop at Gridserve Thurrock services on the M25 on the way home. 

As on previous long drives, the XC40’s superbly supportive seats meant no backache, and the boot had plenty of space for our weekend bags and other kit. The car was small enough to fit along some of the extremely narrow Norfolk lanes, and I was grateful for the Automatic Emergency Braking system, which kicked in and helped us avoid a very close encounter with a wild rabbit. 

Volvo XC40 Recharge long termer

Spending so much time in the car did reveal a couple of unusual quirks, though. After an hour of driving on the motorway in the sunshine the car automatically turned on the air-con briefly and a message flashed up on the dash telling me it was cooling down the infotainment system. This is not something I've experienced before. 

While sitting in a windy beach car park, I also discovered that, although the car itself has no on/off button, you can turn the power off by pressing and holding the stereo volume button. 

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