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.
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.
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.
Electric quadricycle is great fun, but the ride is bumpy and s...
Small proportions are perfect for the city, but poor range is...
Poor range, poor to drive, poor on practicality. There are bet...
Best version of the DS 3 Crossback, but the Kia e-Niro is...