Volvo XC40 Recharge P8 electric review
Despite it being based on an existing petrol model, there’s plenty to recommend about the Volvo XC40 Recharge P8
- Excellent refinement
- Stunning performance
- Google infotainment system
- Expensive in launch trim
- Not the most fun to drive
- No Apple CarPlay at launch
|Car type||Electric range||Wallbox charge time||Rapid charge time|
|Electric||260 miles||7hrs 30mins (0-100%, 11kW)||40mins (0-80%, 150kW)|
Volvo’s range of plug-in hybrids is among the most extensive of any manufacturer – you can buy an electrified version of every model on sale, and in some cases there’s more than one to choose from. But what if you want a pure-electric Volvo?
The Swedish maker's first zero-emission effort is a version of its big-selling XC40 SUV. The car is badged Volvo XC40 Recharge P8 – the ‘P’ in its name supposedly stands for ‘Pure’, with the number eight hinting at the car’s prodigious power output.
The XC40 Recharge P8 is the first of a number of electric cars expected from Volvo in the coming years. The brand has announced that it's aiming to have a fully electric range by 2030, and for half its sales to be pure-electric cars by 2025. Volvo also has plans to offer its electric cars for sale solely through its website, either outright or on its Care by Volvo subscription service.
The good news is that if the XC40 is anything to go by, Volvo certainly knows how to make an electric car work well. Performance, in fact, is nothing short of astonishing. This is a compact family car with 402bhp and the ability to go from 0-62mph in just 4.9 seconds. That shove is available instantly, too – just put your foot down and the XC40 takes off.
Grip is good thanks to the car’s dual-motor, all-wheel-drive setup (a more affordable, single-motor model will be available later) – and while it’s not as sharp to drive as a Jaguar I-Pace or Polestar 2, there’s still fun to be had. The XC40 P8 does without the R-Design’s stiffer suspension, so it’s comfortable as well.
Speaking of comfort, the P8’s fantastic refinement makes it a very relaxing cruiser. It isn’t as quiet as an Audi e-tron, but it’s not far off. Two levels of brake recuperation – a coasting mode and a setting more akin to the Nissan Leaf’s e-Pedal system – ensure it’s as easy to drive around town as it is on the open road.
Being a modern Volvo, quality is excellent. Initially available only in flashy First Edition specification, every version comes crammed with leather and other soft-touch materials. Existing XC40 owners will feel right at home – with the exception of a few technology upgrades.
Behind the steering wheel sits a set of electric-specific digital dials, similar to those found in the Volvo’s Polestar 2 sister car. These are easy to read, and can present full-screen mapping should you desire. The central infotainment system looks familiar but has been overhauled to run a full suite of Google Automotive services – including Google Assistant and Google Maps. It’s an Android-powered setup, and while Volvo says Apple CarPlay will be available at a later date, you can’t option it from launch.
Included in the XC40's list of on-board technology is an over-the-air (OTA) update facility, meaning the car can receive software tweaks, fixes and improvements directly from Volvo. The first of these is set to take place in 2021, with improvements in range and charging speed promised – but it's not yet clear exactly how much of an improvement it'll bring.
As of March 2021, you can order your XC40 P8 in more modest R-Design trim, with prices starting from £53,100 – a good chunk less than the First Edition version, which sits at around £60,000. It’s very expensive, but you do at least get rewarded with a very generous kit list. These versions come with a panoramic roof, a 360-degree parking camera, a Harman Kardon stereo and keyless start. In addition, you get heated rear seats, wireless phone charging and a host of driver assistance systems.
Practicality is unaffected in the transition to pure-electric. In fact, if anything, the XC40 P8 is more versatile than its petrol or diesel siblings thanks to the inclusion of a 30-litre storage area under the bonnet; perfect for keeping the car’s charging cables. Elsewhere, the boot remains a good shape and size, and there are plenty of useful cubbies in the cabin.
With a range of up to 260 miles, the Volvo XC40 Recharge P8 sits on par with larger rivals like the BMW iX3 and Mercedes EQC in this regard, but falls shy of the range-topping Tesla Model 3. It seems odd, however, that the cheaper Polestar 2 (built using a similar set of components to the XC40) also trumps the Volvo’s official range.
Still, the XC40 will charge at speeds of up to 150kW; find one of these public rapid chargers and you’ll manage an 80% top-up in around 40 minutes. An 11kW three-phase wallbox will replenish the batteries to full in 7hrs 30mins, but despite Volvo offering a three-pin plug as standard, the company offers no indication as to how long it’d take to charge in this way. A Type 2 cable for wallboxes and untethered public charge points is available as an option.
Of course, being pure-electric there is no road tax to pay, and company car drivers can benefit from a 0% Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) tax rating for the 2020/21 tax year. This rises to just 1% in 2021/22, ensuring the XC40 remains an attractive proposition going forward. It’s worth noting, however, that the current car’s list price means it misses out on the £3k plug-in car grant for zero-emission models costing less than £50,000.
Truth is, the Volvo XC40 P8 is an extremely accomplished electric car. Its biggest issue comes from within – the super-cool Polestar 2 is cheaper to buy, more fun to drive, and offers a longer official driving range. We reckon that in time, cheaper models will make more sense.