The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
The front seats in the Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric are some of the best you’ll find. The entry-level model has manual adjustment but does feature four-way adjustable lumbar support. Other versions have full electric adjustment.
A digital instrument panel is standard and the Recharge Pure Electric’s screen is higher in resolution than the screen in other XC40s, so it's crisper, clearer and very easy to read.
Our only criticism is that the minimalist design of the dashboard means you have to delve into the infotainment touchscreen if you want to adjust almost anything, including the interior temperature. Being forced to do so can be rather distracting when you're driving.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
The elevated seating position in the XC40 gives you a good view of the road ahead, helped further by relatively slim windscreen pillars. You also get large door mirrors, so you can see clearly what’s drawing up alongside, and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror is standard. Bright, automatic LED headlights are included too, and make easy work of night-time driving. They also include an auto high-beam function, but it’s a shame the XC40 Recharge isn’t available with the fully adaptive Matrix LED headlights that many rivals offer; these deliver high beam visibility at all times without dazzling oncoming traffic.
Over-the-shoulder visibility isn’t great, being compromised by a window line that kicks up towards the back of the car. However, we do like the nifty button in the infotainment system that lets you lower the rear seat headrests from the front – handy if you want a clearer view out of the back window when the rear seats are unoccupied.
Rear parking sensors are standard, but you have to go for the mid-spec Plus trim (our pick of the range) to get front and rear parking sensors with a rear-view camera. The top-spec Pro model gets a 360-degree camera, which gives you a very helpful bird's eye view of the car when you're parking.
Sat nav and infotainment
The 9.0in, tablet-style touchscreen looks similar to the one you'll find in other XC40s, but the software is completely different. It was developed in conjunction with Google and Android and is essentially the same system that features in the Polestar 2. Google Maps and Google Assistant come as standard, as do Apple CarPlay/Android Auto phone mirroring.
Unfortunately, as with other XC40s, while a screen that lets you swipe, pinch and scroll sounds good in theory, in reality you have to take your eyes off the road for longer than is ideal just to complete simple tasks – changing the radio station, for example.
The numerous small icons and the cluttered look of some sections don't help matters. Take the settings menu, which is used to adjust the one-pedal driving and the steering mode: it contains an overwhelming array of text that points to various sub-menus, and it’s very difficult to comprehend while driving.
Volvo is tough to beat when it comes to interior quality. Pretty much anything you touch in any XC40 feels ready to stand the test of time and the rigours of daily family use, yet is also elegant and plush.
The great mix of high-quality plastics, metal inlays and leather really gives the Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric plenty of premium panache. It’s certainly screwed together better than the Tesla Model 3, although the top trims are as pricey as an Audi E-tron and don't quite match its high-end finish.
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