Volvo XC40 Recharge Plus: long-term test review
First report: after a long wait, the hi-tech Volvo XC40 Recharge electric SUV joins our test fleet
3.5 out of 5
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From one electric SUV to another, the Volvo XC40 Recharge is fitting into daily life well. The cold temperatures haven’t done the range any favours, however, and there are a couple of bits of kit I’m missing more as time passes. With fewer optional extras available, it means picking the right spec is more important than ever.
- Mileage: 1.712
- Efficiency: 2.9 miles/kWh
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It seems electric SUVs are everywhere these days – or at least, they are in my part of suburban southwest London. Every corner I turn, I’m confronted by the gentle hum of a battery-electric 4×4, or a green-plated crossover ferrying families from one end of the High Street to the other.
So it should come as no surprise that even before I was asked to return the keys to my old electric SUV, a BMW iX3, I found myself immediately eyeing up a similarly practical EV alternative. For the next six months or so, I’ll be running this Volvo XC40 Recharge Plus.
As is often the case at the moment, lead times on cars like these are lengthy. We placed the order for our XC40 way back in March 2022, and it only arrived at Endeavour Volvo in Chiswick late last year. We waited for it so long, in fact, that some fundamental changes have subsequently been made to the Volvo’s spec sheet.
Car group tests
We opted for the less powerful single-motor XC40, whose 69kWh battery feeds a 228bhp motor on the front axle. However, Volvo has since confirmed the entry-level XC40 will switch to a more powerful rear-mounted layout to improve efficiency. Production of these versions starts later in 2023, but order the most basic XC40 now and that’s the car you’ll get.
This, Endeavour’s general sales manager Hanan Gendi tells me, will bump the Volvo’s range from 262 miles (in our car) to an official maximum of 286 miles depending on wheel size and specification. The dual-motor versions of the XC40 also get faster 200kW charging, although single-motor models like ours are unaffected.
That doesn’t bother me too much. Our car’s 150kW peak charging speed is quicker than most – including rivals like the Ford Mustang Mach-E, Volkswagen ID.4 and even the Jaguar I-Pace. In fact, aside from those based on an 800-volt architecture – such as the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 – little comes close for time-saving top-ups. So long as you can find a quick enough public charger, you’ll not be left waiting for too long; a 10-80 per cent charge is achievable in just 27 minutes.
Another tweak to the kit list, Hanan tells us, is that Volvo’s entire paint palette is now selectable free of charge – so the £850 Sage Green colour on our car becomes a no-cost option. You’ll still have to pay extra for the suede seat trim, but apart from a slightly different 19-inch wheel design, everything else remains as it was.
That means, in Plus spec, you get a nine-inch portrait touchscreen running the latest Google infotainment software, as well as a 12.3-inch driver information display. There is also standard wireless phone charging, heated seats front and rear, a heated steering wheel and keyless entry and start. I particularly like the get-in-and-go functionality of Volvo’s set-up – just sit down, select your gear, and you’re off.
You also get automatic LED lights, but one thing I’ve very much missed during the recent wet weather is a set of rain-sensing wipers. Seems it’s one of those things you don’t notice until it’s gone. The same goes for forward-facing parking cameras – conspicuous here by their absence. Given that I have to park on the street day in, day out, I guess I use this kind of kit more often than I’d realised.
Otherwise though, the XC40 is as smooth, quiet, and Volvo-like as you might expect. Hanan used to work for a German rival at a dealership nearby, and as much as she loved that brand’s racier reputation, she too is coming round to the Swedish maker’s more relaxed and safety-conscious image.
The XC40 is quick enough for daily use, though I’ll admit to rarely driving with any gusto; the shorter range versus my old iX3 and colder temperatures mean I’ve been attempting to conserve as much energy as possible of late.
In terms of space and versatility – often a Volvo strong point – I’ve found that while the XC40 isn’t as big as the BMW, some useful underfloor storage, plus a decent space under the bonnet, means that I’ve not yet wished for a bigger boot. However, having a fixed parcel shelf rather than a retractable one isn’t the most practical solution; I’ve had to leave it at home on a few occasions.
But my biggest bugbear thus far is that in order to set up the Volvo Cars smartphone app, you need both of the car’s keyfobs. Because my XC40 was delivered with just one – and the second is currently lost in transit somewhere – I’m unable to access any of the car’s remote functions or monitor things like charge status. As with the parking cameras and those automatic wipers, you always want what you can’t have.
|Model:||Volvo XC40 Recharge Plus|
|On fleet since:||November 2022|
|Engine:||1x e-motor/69kWh battery, 228bhp|
|Options:||Connect textile/microtech upholstery (£925), Premium metallic paint (£850)|
|Insurance*:||Group: 36 Quote: £1,110|
|Any problems?||None so far|
*Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.
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