Volvo XC40 Recharge long term test

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 8079 List price £61,855 Target Price £58,805 Price as tested £61,855 Dealer price now £41,298 Private price now £36,709 Test range 205-220 miles Official range 270 miles Running costs (excluding depreciation) £1488 (Electricity £498, Replacement windscreen £990)

6 November 2023 – Turning green  

Driving the Volvo XC40 Recharge has been a big leap towards living a more eco-friendly life. That’s why it’s pictured below with an eco-house that uses Passivhaus principles in its construction, and has triple glazing, solar panels and recycled newspaper insulation to limit its environmental impact. 

Volvo XC40 Recharge long termer

Much like Wood House, the XC40 Recharge minimises energy usage and takes a sustainable approach to transport. Much of its interior is made from recycled PET plastic, and it can be charged up using green energy and then emits no tailpipe emissions while being used. 

I’ve not had to sacrifice fun or comfort to go greener, though. One of the things I’ve loved about the XC40 is its acceleration. With two electric motors and 402bhp, my Twin AWD version can do 0-62mph in 4.6sec. Although I mostly cruise around gently, it’s great to have that burst of power if I need to get out of a tricky situation, and it’s fun to try it out on deserted rural roads occasionally. 

Volvo XC40 Recharge long termer

Another thing I’ve really appreciated about the XC40 is the exceptionally comfortable driver’s seat. Having electric seat adjustment, a multi-directional lumbar support button and length adjustment for the seat base all ensure I can get an excellent driving position. And the support for my back is so good I’ve never got out of the car feeling stiff and achy, even after driving for much of a day.   

In top of the range Ultimate trim, my XC40 has a plush interior, but it’s just as practical as traditional Volvos. It has transported a variety of gardening and DIY materials, including 300kg of gravel, topsoil and wood that were needed to create a tall rockery. To me, it’s a worthy alternative to the brand’s now discontinued estate models. 

Volvo XC40 Recharge long termer

It’s also good that Volvo has enabled its cars to do over-the-air software updates. This meant I could sit in the car on my driveway, instead of visiting a dealership, and get the latest electrical systems added. One update improved the dash display so it shows the car’s range in miles, as well as the percentage of battery capacity left, so I no longer have to go into an app on the touchscreen to access this information. 

It’s not all been plain sailing with the XC40, though. Issues included a windscreen chip that was too large to repair and cost £990 because the car needed a new windscreen and the recalibration of its safety system sensors. 

There have also been drawn-out charging issues that left me baffled for some time. When I got up the first morning and found out the car hadn’t charged overnight, I was left wondering if the car was at fault, or the wallbox charger, my electricity supply or the charging lead. Owning a combustion-engined car suddenly felt so much simpler. 

Volvo XC40 Recharge long termer

A process of elimination finally resulted in the conclusion that the charging lead was malfunctioning, and when it was replaced for free under warranty the problems stopped. 

Talking of charging, the XC40 has been pretty economical to run. As long as I charged up at my supplier’s cheap night-time rate, replenishing the batteries cost around £11, working out at around 6p per mile, which is around half what it would cost to run a comparable petrol model. 

Volvo XC40 Recharge long termer

Charging hasn’t always been hassle free, though, because the Volvo app was glitchy and often unresponsive. Frustratingly it often wouldn’t update when the car had been charged and show me the correct battery capacity, so I’d have to check on the car’s dash for the correct info. It also failed occasionally in cold weather when I wanted to use it to pre-heat the car. 

These little niggles haven’t been enough to put me off the XC40 or electric cars in general, though. With the XC40 I’ve managed to improve my green credentials and save money, without having to make too many compromises. My XC40 will be sadly missed. 

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