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First Drive: Does the XC40 Recharge P8 deliver Volvo’s EV vision?

Jack Evans, PA Motoring Reporter
·7-min read

What is it?

Volvo XC40 Recharge
The look of the Recharge is largely unchanged over the regular XC40


Volvo is a company with electrification at its very core, with plans to make 50 per cent of its sales fully electric by 2025 – and it’s set to become a solely EV company by 2030, too. But up until now, it has largely majored in hybrids. Cars like the XC90 T8 and V60 T8 have showcased what this Swedish firm can do with battery and petrol power combined, but it has waited some time to go the whole hog and introduce a solely electric model. Until now, that is.

The XC40 Recharge P8 represents Volvo’s first foray into fully battery-powered vehicles, converting one of its most popular vehicles to run solely on plug-in power. The question is, can this be the EV debut Volvo was looking for? Let’s find out.

What’s new?

Volvo XC40 Recharge
The XC40 features a soft suspension setup


Off the bat, you’d be hard-pressed to tell this P8 model apart from the rest of the XC40 line-up. There are no futuristic lights nor ‘look at me’ styling touches, just the smart and understated design that you get from the standard car. For most people, that’ll do just fine, too.

But underneath we’ve got a whole new powertrain – the same as the one you’ll find in Polestar’s 2, incidentally – and the pair share the same CMA modular platform, too. It means that, though the exterior of the car might appear like a carbon-copy of its more petrol-focused stablemates, the way it propels itself forward is considerably different.

What’s under the bonnet?

Volvo XC40 Recharge
The charging port is located at the rear side of the car


The XC40 P8 Recharge makes use of an all-wheel-drive electric setup which is a good thing indeed as it has a sizeable 402bhp and 660Nm to translate to the road – not the sort of power outputs you’d expect from a car of this type. In fact, this diminutive little Volvo will out-stretch all manner of sports cars thanks to its 0-60mph time of just 4.7 seconds, while a top speed of 112mph is in line with the mandatory limit brought in across the entire Volvo line-up.

When it comes to range, Volvo claims up to 257 miles from a single charge. The ability to charge at speeds of up to 150kW means that the battery can be taken from zero to 80 per cent in as little as 40 minutes, while a full charge via a home wallbox will take around eight hours. Try doing it via a three-pin plug, however, and you’ll need to leave it for a long time. Believe us, we tried – and it was still charging a day and a half later.

What’s it like to drive?

Given that the cabin of the P8 mirrors the one you’ll find in the standard XC40, you can be lured into thinking that the driving experience will be just the same. In truth, move off gradually and you’ll get the same silent treatment that you’d find in a regular hybrid XC40.

However, the extra weight of this battery-powered car can be felt from the off, though there’s no doubting the potency of the electric motor setup; even moderate applications of throttle cause the XC40 to surge forwards, ramping up speed at an alarming pace.

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This Volvo’s ride is a mixed bag, though. It’s soft on most occasions, which means that it rolls and lists through bends. However, there’s also a firmness to it which seems to translate many of the road imperfections through and into the cabin. We’d rather it lay somewhere in the middle.

In terms of range, we travelled a decent 132-mile route before stopping to charge with the battery showing around 38 per cent remaining. On a particularly cold day, we expected the range to dip below claimed, but this would put it below the 200-mile mark. It seems more than likely that the car’s range readout was being a touch pessimistic.

How does it look?

Volvo XC40 Recharge
Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin


As we’ve already mentioned, the visual differences between this battery-powered XC40 and the more conventionally-driven variants are minimal, to say the least. There’s the now standard-fit smoothed-off grille that you’ll find fitted to most EVs on sale today, helping to boost this Volvo’s aerodynamic efficiency.

In truth, we like the rather understated design of the P8. There are no gimmicks, just regular – and rather attractive, to our eyes – Volvo styling, which makes it a classy and refined sight out on the road.

What’s it like inside?

Volvo XC40 Recharge
The interior is well made and smartly finished


The P8 exhibits everything we’ve grown to love about modern Volvo interiors. It’s spacious, well made and distinctly clean in its styling. There are no fussy controls nor over-complicated menus, just an accessible touchscreen in the middle – which we’ll get to in more detail shortly – and plenty of high-end materials.

Given the performance that the XC40 delivers, we’d like to have a little more bolster on the seats, however. They’re a little flat and don’t give the kind of support that you’d like to have on a car that’ll move as quickly as the P8 does. This Volvo also does without a proper ‘range’ readout per se, choosing to instead display a battery percentage, much like a smartphone. On the one hand, it does mean you don’t spend your time focusing on the miles dropping away, but it does mean you’re often left wondering just how much remaining range you have.

In terms of boot capacity, the XC40 offers up 452 litres, plus a handy 31 litres in the nose, the latter of which is ideal for storing the car’s charging cables.

What’s the spec like?

Volvo XC40
Physical controls for the volume are a welcome inclusion


Though prices for the XC40 P8 start from just over £53,000, Volvo expects most buyers to opt for its Care by Volvo fixed subscription package, which would put the P8 from £619 per month on a fixed 36-month period. This brings a range of dedicated services, and includes replacement tyres and all servicing costs though, in truth, these are usually far lower with an electric car in the first place compared with a more conventionally powered car.

The level of equipment you get on the P8 is, however, excellent. You get a nine-inch central touchscreen that incorporates Google’s automotive services. It works brilliantly as well, thanks to Google’s own Maps and Assistant voice-activated controls. The mapping is particularly good at plotting charge points on your route, too.

Verdict

Volvo’s first venture into the fully electric segment is a commendable one. The XC40 P8 Recharge offers the kind of useable range that buyers are looking for, as well as the sort of super-fast charging capabilities that’ll quash any fears about ultra-long waiting times at the plug.

It might be expensive, but lower-priced models are in the pipeline – and it’s with those that we predict the XC40 will fully come on song. However, initial impressions are good – and Volvo’s electric future seems to be well and truly on the way.

  • Model: Volvo XC40 P8 Recharge

  • Base price: £53,155

  • Model as tested: XC40 P8 Recharged

  • Engine: Electric motors with 78kWh battery

  • Power: 402bhp

  • Torque: 660Nm

  • Max speed: 112mph

  • 0-60mph: 4.7seconds

  • MPG: 0

  • Emissions: 0g/km CO2

  • Range: 257 miles