2022 Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric AWD review (video)

Building on the success of Volvo’s most popular model, you can now buy a fully electric XC40, called the Recharge Pure Electric. The Swedish brand quietly retired the diesel engine only one year after the XC40’s initial launch in Australia back in 2018. This was to align with the manufacturer’s green ambitions to offer an electric motor in all its models by 2019, and for 50 per cent of its vehicles to be fully electric by 2025.

The Chinese-built Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric is a mouthful to say, but we do hear rumours that the name may change soon. It gets by with two electric motors; one to drive the front wheels and one to drive the rear wheels. Together, they produce a remarkable 300kW and 660Nm, powered by 78kWh lithium-ion batteries.

Since hitting Australian shores in 2018, the Volvo XC40 has made head waves. Lifting the bar in the small SUV segment in terms of sales, and it has scooped up many accolades along the way including the European Car of the Year.

The EV version has no trim levels to choose from, just an R-Design-equivalent top-spec option. At $76,990 (excluding on-road costs) it is $18.5k more expensive than the T5 R-Design, and $10k more than the Recharge plug-in hybrid. But comparatively, it is reasonably priced against like-minded EVs such as the Hyundai IONIQ 5 AWD (from $75,990), Kia EV6 GT-Line AWD (from $82,990), and Polestar 2 AWD (from $69,900).

2022 Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric – THE SPECS

Battery: 78kWh, dual electric motors
Output: 300kW / 660Nm
Transmission: Single-speed auto
Drive type: All-wheel drive
Wheels: F: 20×8.0, 245/45
ANCAP: Five stars
Tare weight: 2158kg
Power-to-weight: 7.19:1 (kg:kW)
Official range: 450km (418km WLTP)
Recharge capacity: DC up to 150kW, AC up to 11kW
Recharge time 10-80%: DC 150kW around 40min

0-60km/h: 2.66 seconds*
0-100km/h: 4.89 seconds*
60-110km/h: 2.89 seconds*
1/4 mile: 13.24 seconds at 172.9km/h*
Max acceleration: 1.014g
100-0km/h braking: 2.99 seconds at 37.97 metres*
Max deceleration: -1.289g
Decibel at idle: 22*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 70*
Priced from: $76,990

* Figures as tested by PerformanceDrive on the day. Factory claims may be different

2022 Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric – THE PACKAGE

Since we first laid eyes on the XC40, we fell in love with its modern take on Scandinavian design and practicality. And it is still just as fresh now. We especially love the large grille combined with those ‘Thor’s hammer’ headlights to convey a robust stance. Those dimpled doors make the XC40 look agile and athletic. The best thing about it is, the design does not at all impede on its practicality.

The XC40 has a brilliantly practical interior. There is a centre console bin, a large, bucketed area, large cup and bottle holders, a well-lit interior, no protruding shapes, a foldable boot floor which shopping bags can hook onto, and huge door pockets because of the relocation of door speakers. It is simply uncluttered and airy.

Both front and rear passengers get ample amounts of legroom for its class, so it’s comfortable on long getaways. The seats are typically as comfortable and supportive as we’ve come to expect from Volvo; with the front seats having numerous settings in every direction to adjust to all body shapes.

In terms of interior presentation, it’s certainly elegant. We love the dotted pattern that reflects light at night, crystal clear displays that don’t overwhelm, and brushed metal sections. It’s a minimalist approach. Door pockets are even lined (with recycled materials of course) so your items don’t rattle around when driving. The only small imperfection we notice is the dotted panel does not quite butt up against the centre dash section.

The same crisp 9.0-inch vertical touch-screen and digital instrument cluster is used in the Recharge Pure Electric as the regular XC40, but the menu layout has changed. It now runs an Android interface and has been modified to give you all the info you need about the electric drive and charge status. But Android being Android, you can download more apps and customise endlessly.

Of course, all XC40 Recharge Pure Electric models get a suite of safety and support systems, including adaptive cruise control, front and rear collision mitigation support, lane keeping aid, blind-spot sensors with cross-traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors, hill start assist with hill descent control, rain-sensing wipers, 360-degree cameras, and an interior humidity sensor.

Other notable highlights include tinted windows, a powered panoramic sunroof, wireless phone charger, heated steering wheel, a high performance 14-speaker Harman Kardon sound system that sounds amazing, R-Design elements, heated front and rear seats, and 20-inch alloy wheels. Unfortunately, you lose the space-saving spare wheel to make way for battery storage.

2022 Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric – THE DRIVE

Now for the fun part. Having two electric motors on board gives the XC40 an incredible amount of g-force. 300kW is the amount of power a high-end sports car would produce. It is truly remarkable. 660Nm of instant torque on hand makes the XC40 feel limitless in its acceleration. Punch it and your head is pushed back into the seat like a rollercoaster. All this translates to a 0-100km/h sprint of just 4.9 seconds. Our testing revealed a time of 4.89 seconds using a private road and Vbox.

As with common EV practise, the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric comes with a one-pedal drive ability. This means you can accelerate and then decelerate by letting go of the same pedal. It might sound confusing, but it’s quick to get used to. Lack of acceleration means braking, and this energy is transferred into charging the battery. There are three different ‘braking’ levels that can be adjusted with the paddle shifters.

Regrettably, the worst part about the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric is not in its own doing. It’s with the infrastructure (or lack of) available in Australia. Unless you can get your own charging system installed at home, the public charging network is just not matured enough to rely on yet. Stations are either unreliable, occupied or scarce. During our time with this test vehicle we went to three different shopping centres to charge and all either had outages, were occupied, or had an out-of-order message on them.

Once you get your hands on one though, the charging speed is now close enough to meet demanding and busy lives. Using a 150kW DC fast charger, you can charge it from 10 to 80 per cent in 37 minutes. We successfully charged from 18 to 82 per cent in about 32 minutes. But that costed $21.11. You can also charge the XC40 at home in 8 hours if you install a 3-phase, 16-amp charger and use the on-board 11kW Type 2 AC fast charger. It also has the old trickle charge option, too.

In terms of travelling distance, the XC40 displays a handy worst-case scenario range, average-case, and best-case scenario. Using the WLTP measuring standard, the average distance is 418km. We were able to achieve very close to this. And as with all EVs, the worst-case scenario is experienced at freeway speeds. Freezing climates can also impede on distance, too. So, if you do lots of city commuting Down Under, you’re using it in its most favourable environment.

We think a little more range, trip, and consumption info in the instrument cluster would be helpful. You either must look at the centre touch-screen or press the trip info button to show remaining range. This is something we feel should be prominently displayed in front of you. Volvo likes its minimalist approach. But on the centre touch-screen, your customisation options are endless.

Being an Android operating system means you can install many different apps directly onto the screen. There are options to set charge limits, program a set of car keys to limit speed and distance, limit sound volume, use Google Assistant, create different profiles… The list goes on. A concerned/controlling parent’s dream.

In the way of driving dynamics, the XC40 EV has stacked on the weight. Weighing 2158kg results in a notable difference in ride quality from non-EV XC40s. The ride is bouncier and does less to absorb impact through the cabin. Low profile tyres don’t help matters either. Interestingly, being weighed down also makes it handle wonderfully. It hangs onto corners and just rails around like it’s locked to the tarmac.

The steering is slightly lighter than most, which is helpful in tight carparks. You can stiffen the steering in the settings to make it feel sportier.

Many Aussie lifestyles involve towing a mini house on the back of their SUVs for getaways. Unfortunately, EVs don’t specialise in this need yet. And the XC40 is the same. The towing capacity drops from 2100kg in the T5 petrol to only 1500kg in the Recharge Pure Electric.

Volvo Australia does not have the greatest distribution and after-sales service. Many Australian drivers who reside outside the capital cities will not find a Volvo dealership near. For example, there are no dealerships outside Melbourne in Victoria, and only two exist outside Sydney in New South Wales.

Warranty has been increased in the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric. You get 5 years and unlimited kilometres, 8 years of free roadside assistance, and our favourite, servicing is only required every 30,000km or 24 months. Bliss.

2022 Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric – THE VIDEO

2022 Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric – THE VERDICT

We already fell in love with the Volvo XC40 before it became an EV. Being well-presented, practical, and feature-packed got us hooked. And the plethora of accolades from around the world echo the same tune. Now that it is available fully electric, it would usually open more doors and increase customer reach. Sadly, the EV charging network in Australia simply does not support it. We feel sorry for manufacturers like Volvo who are trying to do the right, ‘green’ thing. But they can only be so successful when a strong infrastructure is there to support the idea.

For the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric itself, it offers astounding performance, a decent driving range for a twin-motor, and pricing is reasonable in comparison to other EVs with similar power outputs and levels of luxury. If you have access to good charging or have a specific set of circumstances in your lifestyle that makes charging easy, test-drive one of these today.

PROS:
– Very impressive power and performance for its class
– Stylish and unique exterior design
– Contemporary, airy and un-intrusive interior with an abundance of practical solutions
– Fair price against other EVs with comparable power, range and features
– Exceptional Harman Kardon sound system
– New Android operating system allows you to download fresh apps and functions

CONS:
– Bouncy, unresolved ride compared with regular XC40
– More EV info on the instrument cluster wouldn’t go astray
– Not practical if you rely solely on the public charging grid
– Loss of spare tyre and towing capacity is reduced from 2100kg to 1500kg from regular XC40

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