Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric review

Category: Electric car

Section: Performance & drive

Star rating
Volvo XC40 Electric rear cornering
Add to shortlist
  • Volvo XC40 Recharge P8 front
  • Volvo XC40 Electric rear cornering
  • Volvo XC40 Electric dashboard
  • Volvo XC40 Electric rear seats
  • Volvo XC40 Electric infotainment
  • Volvo XC40 Recharge 2020 wide front tracking
  • Volvo XC40 Recharge 2020 left panning
  • Volvo XC40 Recharge 2020 wide rear panning
  • Volvo XC40 Recharge 2020 front seats
  • Volvo XC40 Recharge 2020 boot open
  • Volvo XC40 Recharge 2020 front storage
  • Volvo XC40 Recharge P8 front
  • Volvo XC40 Electric rear cornering
  • Volvo XC40 Electric dashboard
  • Volvo XC40 Electric rear seats
  • Volvo XC40 Electric infotainment
  • Volvo XC40 Recharge 2020 wide front tracking
  • Volvo XC40 Recharge 2020 left panning
  • Volvo XC40 Recharge 2020 wide rear panning
  • Volvo XC40 Recharge 2020 front seats
  • Volvo XC40 Recharge 2020 boot open
  • Volvo XC40 Recharge 2020 front storage
Share review

Performance & drive

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

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

As we said in the intro, right now you can order the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric in P8 First Edition trim only. That means you get a big 78kWh battery and two electric motors (one driving the front wheels and the other the rears, so it's four-wheel drive) that dish out 402bhp and 487lb ft of torque in total. Acceleration, as you might imagine, is mega: the 0-62mph sprint is dispatched in 4.9sec.

Even by the rapid standards of electric cars, that's swift. The quickest version of the Audi E-tron covers the same ground in 5.7sec, and the Kia e-Niro musters a time of 7.8sec. But, while this P8 is quick, the Tesla Model 3 Performance is quicker still, offering a frankly ridiculous 0-60mph time of 3.3sec.

But when it comes to electric cars, performance isn’t just how quickly they'll go but also how far they'll travel between charges. The official WLTP range for the P8 is 260 miles. That's not as good as the range the e-Niro (282 miles) and the Model 3 Long Range (329 miles) will officially stretch to, but it's still decent by class standards. Indeed, the Audi E-tron 50 Quattro offers a lowly 186-mile official range, although paying for the more expensive E-tron 55 Quattro version bumps that to 250-mile range.

Suspension and ride comfort

The Recharge Pure Electric is smooth and settled at motorway speeds, until it encounters a pothole or an expansion joint. Such sharp abrasions elicit a harsh jolt, which the lighter, conventionally powered petrol XC40s would absorb with less fuss. Still, by the standards of electric cars the Recharge Pure Electric is very comfortable, but for a truly cushy ride the E-tron is even better. 

We should point out that our test car was on 19in wheels. These won't be available for UK-spec First Edition models, which will have 20in alloys. And usually the bigger the car’s wheels, the worse it rides. 

Handling

Being tall and heavy, the Recharge Pure Electric leans a fair bit through corners and isn't that much fun, to be frank. If you drive it in a relaxed manner – as most people surely will – it handles perfectly adequately, but you certainly won't relish its steering in Normal mode, which feels overly light and vague. There’s a sports mode that beefs up the weight a bit, and we’d be tempted to leave it in that setting all the time.

The Kia e-Niro steers more intuitively and is more agile, but if you fancy an electric car that's uber-fast round corners, try out the mind-bogglingly grippy Tesla Model 3 Performance instead.

 

Volvo XC40 Electric rear cornering

Noise and vibration

There's some mild wind buffeting from around the windscreen at motorway speeds, quite a bit of road noise, and both are a lot louder than you’ll experience in the hushed Audi E-tron. The XC40's electric motors whisk you along in calming quiet, though.

It's relatively easy to drive smoothly, too. The brakes respond fairly consistently when you squeeze the middle pedal, plus there's a “one pedal” driving function, whereby just lifting off the accelerator gradually slows the car down to a complete stop.

Also consider

Renault Twizy

2020 - present

Electric quadricycle is great fun, but the ride is bumpy and s...

Smart ForTwo EQ

2018 - present

Small proportions are perfect for the city, but poor range is...

Smart ForFour EQ

2020 - present

Poor range, poor to drive, poor on practicality. There are bet...

DS 3 Crossback E-Tense

2019 - present

Best version of the DS 3 Crossback, but the Kia e-Niro is...