Volvo EX30 review

Category: Electric car

The EX30 is quick, good to drive and has a great interior – although efficiency could be better

Volvo EX30 front cornering
  • Volvo EX30 front cornering
  • Volvo EX30 rear cornering
  • Volvo EX30 interior dashboard
  • Volvo EX30 boot open
  • Volvo EX30 interior infotainment
  • Volvo EX30 right driving
  • Volvo EX30 front right driving
  • Volvo EX30 rear left driving
  • Volvo EX30 left static boot open
  • Volvo EX30 rear static boot open
  • Volvo EX30 wheel detail
  • Volvo EX30 rear lights detail
  • Volvo EX30 interior front seats
  • Volvo EX30 interior back seats
  • Volvo EX30 interior steering wheel detail
  • Volvo EX30 interior detail
  • Volvo EX30 interior detail
  • Volvo EX30 interior detail
  • Volvo EX30 boot detail
  • Volvo EX30 front cornering
  • Volvo EX30 rear cornering
  • Volvo EX30 interior dashboard
  • Volvo EX30 boot open
  • Volvo EX30 interior infotainment
  • Volvo EX30 right driving
  • Volvo EX30 front right driving
  • Volvo EX30 rear left driving
  • Volvo EX30 left static boot open
  • Volvo EX30 rear static boot open
  • Volvo EX30 wheel detail
  • Volvo EX30 rear lights detail
  • Volvo EX30 interior front seats
  • Volvo EX30 interior back seats
  • Volvo EX30 interior steering wheel detail
  • Volvo EX30 interior detail
  • Volvo EX30 interior detail
  • Volvo EX30 interior detail
  • Volvo EX30 boot detail
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by
Doug Revolta
Published26 February 2024

Introduction

What Car? says...

If you're tempted to go electric but have found yourself underwhelmed by the sub-£40k offerings, the Volvo EX30 might just be the car for you. 

This fully electric SUV is the smallest car Volvo makes, but it's still achingly desirable, has a competitive range between charges and yet costs less to buy than many rivals.

Those rivals include the Hyundai Kona Electric, Jeep Avenger Electric, Kia Niro EV and Smart #1 which, incidentally, sits on the same underpinnings as the EX30 (both brands are at least part-owned by Chinese automotive giant Geely).

So, we know the Volvo EX30 is respectably priced and has a big "want one" factor, but how does it stack up in other important areas, such as practicality and interior quality – and which version makes the most sense? Read on to find out...


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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Strengths

  • +Easy to drive
  • +Comfortable ride
  • +Rapid performance

Weaknesses

  • -Entry-level version's 49kWh battery limits range

The cheapest Volvo EX30 is called the Single Motor and doesn't want for performance. We haven't tried it yet, but with an official 0-62mph time of just 5.7 seconds, it can accelerate way faster than any Hyundai Kona Electric, Jeep Avenger Electric or Kia Niro EV.

But before you run off and place your order, it's worth knowing that the battery is a relatively small 49kWh (usable capacity). That’s good for an official range of 213 miles, but in the real world expect 130-170 miles – depending on the weather and how heavy you are with your right foot.

On the plus side, the battery is the newer lithium iron phosphate (LFP) type, which means fewer precious metals are used in its construction, and should mean it's less susceptible to losing capacity over time.

If you plan to do long journeys fairly regularly, or just don’t want to charge as often, it's worth paying extra for the Single Motor Extended Range. This has a different type of battery that does contain cobalt, but it's a much bigger 64kWh, giving a significantly longer range between charges. 

Officially, this version can do 295 miles, although expect 190-250 miles in real-world driving. That's further than you'll get in any Avenger or Smart #1, if not quite as far as the Kona Electric 65kWh can travel between plug-ins.

The entry-level Single Motor and the Extended Range both have a single electric motor driving their rear wheels, but the Extended Range is even quicker (0-62mph takes 5.3 seconds).

That performance will be more than enough for most buyers, but if you want theme park ride acceleration, there’s the hilarious Twin Motor Performance. This has a second electric motor driving its front wheels, giving it four-wheel drive and a stonking 422bhp.

Volvo EX30 image
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That’s sufficient power for a 0-62mph time of just 3.6 seconds, which is even faster than the Smart #1 Brabus and as rapid as a Tesla Model Y Performance. The Twin Motor gets the same 64kWh battery as the Extended Range, but because it’s heavier the official range drops to 279 miles.

All EX30 are remarkably easy to drive with well-judged pedal responses that make for smooth and predictable acceleration and braking. If you don’t want to use the brake pedal very much, you can choose the "one-pedal mode" which, when activated, slows the car reasonably quickly when you lift off the accelerator pedal.

The balance Volvo has managed to strike between ride comfort and handling is almost spot-on. The suspension is supple enough to take the sting out of typical urban road scars, making the EX30 more comfortable around town than a #1 or Kona Electric. 

At faster speeds, on A-roads and motorways, things are a little more choppy – but this is still a very comfy small electric SUV, with only the Avenger proving more agreeable on long journeys. The EX30 is a fairly hushed cruiser at high speeds too, with only a small amount of road and wind noise making its way inside.

Despite fairly light steering (even when you switch to its heaviest setting) the EX30 is also composed and stable through corners, so you always feel confident when negotiating a series of bends – even when driving quite quickly. The #1, Kona Electric and Niro EV all suffer from a bit more body lean through bends.

You might imagine the savagely fast Twin Motor Performance would have stiffer suspension to help it carry more speed through the corners, but surprisingly it doesn’t. Indeed, Volvo told us that it’s tried to tune all EX30s to feel the same on the road, although in reality the Twin Motor is marginally firmer – no doubt due to its extra weight.

“I like the one-pedal driving mode because it’s relaxing and helps to increase range. It’s a shame it’s not as nicely calibrated as the Smart #1 though.” – Will Nightingale, Reviews Editor

Volvo EX30 rear cornering

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Strengths

  • +Stylish, minimalist interior
  • +Solid build quality
  • +Great Google voice control system

Weaknesses

  • -No physical controls for air-con
  • -Some usability issues
  • -Poor lower back support on Plus versions

Let's start with the good stuff. The Volvo EX30 is properly upmarket inside, especially if you choose one of the interior designs that gets the "flax decor" dashboard. All the materials look and feel effortlessly classy, and build quality is equally impressive. Compared to a Jeep Avenger or Hyundai Kona Electric, the EX30 is positively luxurious.

The driving position doesn’t feel especially high for an SUV, but it's easy enough to get comfortable behind the wheel – despite the annoyance of having to using the touchscreen to adjust the door mirrors. You might not stay comfy for long if you've gone for a Plus version, though, because there's a shortage of lower back support and you can't add adjustable lumbar support to remedy this.

Seat comfort is much better in Ultra models, which do have adjustable lumbar support as well as full electric seat adjustment. There are still issues, though, because rather than dials or a digital display behind the steering wheel, Volvo has decided to copy Tesla and put the the speedo and trip computer information on the centrally mounted infotainment touchscreen.

The speedo is at least at the top right of the display, but you still need to look away from the road for longer than you would if this infotainment was either behind the wheel (or projected on to the windscreen, as it is in some versions of the Smart #1).

Talking of infotainment, all EX30s have a 12.3in touchscreen system that was co-developed with Google. So, as standard you get Google Maps and Google Assistant (one of the best voice control systems we've tried). There's no smartphone mirroring at present, although Volvo says Apple CarPlay will be added via and over-the-air update in the not-too-distant future.

The touchscreen is snappy in its response and the graphics are crisp and clear, although there are quite a lot of layers to delve through when trying to find certain functions. Some of the icons are also quote small, which makes them tricky to hit accurately on the move. And, of course, it’s far more distracting to prod and swipe a screen while driving than it would be to twist a physical dial to adjust the interior temperate, although the voice control can help here.

The EX30 isn't as easy to see out of as a #1 or Kona Electric, with the windscreen pillars blocking some of your view at junctions and roundabouts. To help with parking, Plus versions have a reversing camera, while range-topping Ultra models go one step further with a 360-degree bird's eye view camera.

“There are plenty of cubbies, but the central glovebox is opened by a tiny icon on the touchscreen; I found this an unnecessary faff.” – Neil Winn, Deputy Reviews Editor

 

Volvo EX30 interior dashboard

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Strengths

  • +Plenty of space in the front
  • +Good-sized, practical boot

Weaknesses

  • -Rear space is nothing special
  • -No storage under bonnet

You won't have any problems fitting in the front of the Volvo EX30, thanks to plenty head room and seats that slide back a long way on their runners. 

A couple of six-foot adults will fit in the rear seats, where the head room is decent enough and leg room respectable. This is a small electric SUV, of course, so don't expect Kia EV6 or Tesla Model Y levels or rear space.

The Smart #1 and Hyundai Kona Electric are also a little roomier in the rear, although if you regularly need to put adults in the back, the EX30 is a better choice than the Jeep Avenger.

The flat floor helps when carrying three people in the back although, again, this isn't the biggest electric SUV out there. Three adults sitting side by side will still feel as though they're on the Tube at rush hour.

So, that's occupants sorted – but what about luggage? Well, the EX30's boot is significantly bigger than the Smart #1's. We managed to fit six carry-on suitcases below the parcel shelf, the same number we squeezed into a Kona Electric, and two more than the Avenger swallowed.

The standard height-adjustable boot floor is useful, as is the fact you can fit the parcel shelf (or the charging cable) under the boot floor if needed.

To maximise the EX30’s load-lugging ability, you can fold down the rear seats (they split in a 60/40 arrangement) and they lie flush with the boot floor when it's set to its highest position.

“If you raise the boot floor, it flattens the load lip. I found this really helpful when loading some heavy shopping.” – Dan Jones, Reviewer

Volvo EX30 boot open

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Strengths

  • +Attractive starting price
  • +Fairly quick to charge
  • +Lots of equipment as standard

Weaknesses

  • -No Euro NCAP safety score at time of writing
  • -Big price jump to larger battery

The starting price of the Volvo EX30 undercuts the Jeep Avenger and Kia Niro EV. However, there is some unpicking to do, because the cheapest Single Motor EX30 has a relatively small battery so it can't travel particularly far on a charge.

You get plenty of standard equipment, though, including adaptive cruise control, a powered tailgate, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel and dual-zone climate control. So, if a long range isn't a top priority, it's well worth considering.

If you want even more kit, you'll need to go for an Extended Range or Twin Motor Performance version. Both give you access to range-topping Ultra trim, which adds a panoramic glass roof and electrically adjustable front seats.

All things considered, we reckon the Extended Range in Plus trim makes the most sense. Yes, it's a shame you don't get (and can't add) adjustable lumbar support, but it keeps the price respectable.

Although the EX30 is priced slightly above a like-for-like Smart #1, if you're signing up to a PCP finance agreement you might actually pay slightly less per month for the Volvo. That's because the EX30 is predicted to depreciate more slowly than most rivals, although monthly costs are still likely to be considerably higher than for a Hyundai Kona Electric.

As for charging speeds, the smaller battery in the Single Motor has a maximum charging rate of 134kW, meaning a 10-80% top-up can take as little as 26 minutes. The bigger battery (in the Extended Range and Twin Motor) requires just two minutes more to complete the same 10-80% charge, assuming you can find a charger that supports its 153kW maximum rate. Either way,  you'll be waiting less time than you would in a BYD Atto 3, Kona Electric or Niro EV.

The safety experts at Euro NCAP have yet to publish a report on the EX30, so we can't tell you how well it's likely to protect you and your family in an accident.

However, you get plenty of kit to help prevent an accident in the first place, including automatic emergency braking (AEB), rear cross-traffic alert, traffic-sign recognition and a system that alerts occupants if they start to open a door when a cyclist or car is approaching.

The EX30 is too new for us to have gathered any reliability data, although Volvo as a brand finished in ninth place (out of 32 manufacturers) in our 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey – a strong performance but still below Kia and Hyundai.

The warranty is an average three years or 60,000 miles, too – although the battery is covered for eight years (or 100,000 miles).

“Plus trim comes well equipped, but I was surprised it lacks the standard heat pump, panoramic glass roof and head-up display you’ll find in the equivalent Smart #1.” – Lawrence Cheung, New Car Editor


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Volvo EX30 interior infotainment

FAQs

  • That depends on your needs. It's the smallest car Volvo makes, but it's hardly a Fiat 500 and has a decent-sized boot and space for a couple of adults in the back (or three at a squeeze).  

  • Yes, the EX30 is smaller than the Volvo XC40 in all dimensions. The EX30 is 4233mm long, 1549mm tall and 2032mm wide (including door mirrors), so it's roughly the same size as the Volkswagen T-Roc.

  • We haven't put the EX30 through the What Car? Real Range test yet, but expect 130-170 miles (depending on the weather) from the entry-level Single Motor, rising to 190-250 miles in the Extended Range version.

  • The EX30 is priced roughly in line with the Jeep Avenger Electric and Smart #1. For the latest prices and discounts, check out our new Volvo deals page.

At a glance
New car deals
Save up to £1,004
Target Price from £33,044
Save up to £1,004
or from £351pm
Swipe to see used car deals
Nearly new deals
From £32,650
RRP price range £33,795 - £44,495
Number of trims (see all)2
Number of engines (see all)2
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)electric
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / 60000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £67 / £89
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £135 / £178
Available colours