Volvo XC40 Recharge

Electric Ultimate

Twin

Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin Pro
Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin Pro - side
Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin Pro - rear
Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin Pro - charging
Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin Pro - cabin

THE Volvo XC40's story is in many ways a reflection of the changing car industry and the shift from internal combustion engines to electric power.

Still a relatively new model in the greater scheme of things, when the XC40 was launched you could get it in either petrol or diesel form,

Fast forward a few years and diesel is no longer an option.

You can still buy one with a petrol engine but the range is now heavily biased towards hybrids - either mild or plug-in - and the newest recruit is an all-electric model.

The Recharge Electric represents a bold statement about Volvo's electric future, a destination the Swedish brand is travelling irreversibly to with every other car maker.

The future's electric and it's really now just about the nature and pace of the journey there, rather than wondering whether it's going to happen.

One aspect of that journey is whether car makers re-invent existing cars as electric models or start again from the ground up.

It's fair to say there's a tandem approach, with some old favourites getting the electric treatment but also purpose-built bespoke EVs where companies have started with a clean slate and created a new EV from the ground up. Some companies do both.

Volvo hasn't developed a new electric model from scratch, in the way Skoda or Volkswagen have done with the Enyaq or ID-3.

However, it's certainly the case that when the XC40 was launched Volvo planned to be able to adapt it accordingly in line with industry powertrain trends.

The result of that is that the XC40 Recharge Electric feels very much like a bespoke EV rather than an afterthought.

Essentially there are two versions available that offer different power options.

Buyers can go for a 69kWh battery with a single electric motor producing 228bhp or a 78kWh battery with two motors and producing an impressive 402bhp.

While that's quite a big power difference, both batteries offer a range of up to 259 miles.

Currently Volvo is offering three trim levels, Core, Plus and Ultimate.

The Core only comes with the single motor and costs from £45,750. The Plus and Ultimate models can come with a single motor or twin motors. The Ultimate model with twin motors costs from £60,300.

I had the chance to experience the more powerful model and power is without doubt a prevailing theme.

All-electric vehicles are always sprightly and people driving one for the first time tend to be pleasantly surprised at just how quick they are.

The higher-powered all-electric XC40 is a real wolf in sheep's clothing and has a turn of pace that is nothing short of blistering.

Put your foot to the floor in this otherwise sedate looking family SUV and it will put a smile on your face every time.

It could definitely give some of the more performance-focused SUVs a real run for their money, though conversely it almost feels strangely surreal in what is ultimately a fairly sedate and sensible looking crossover.

That power doesn't come cheap though and it means if you opt for a twin motor model you'll be in the sort of price bracket occupied by premium EVs.

Is the XC40 able to stand-up against such lofty rivals as the Jaguar I-Pace or Audi E-tron? The answer is a qualified yes. To me it felt up there with the best though whether buyers shelling out £60,000 or thereabouts will agree is an altogether different matter.

The XC40 is a great car, whether it's an EV or not, and although there's a temptation to look down on it to some extent as the smallest of Volvo's SUVs it's hardly a small car - being plenty big enough to serve admirably as a family motor.

On the inside the XC40 Recharge Electric is plush and stylish.

Volvo have really hit the nail on the head with their tablet-style touchscreen, which allows you to control most of the car's functions.

It's a system that is also exceptionally intuitive and easy to use.

I also loved the level of automation, an example being you simply sit in the driver's seat and sensors switch the car on - there are no buttons to press.

A Volvo wouldn't be a Volvo without an impressive array of safety features and every XC40 comes with City Safety - which includes pedestrian, cyclist and large animal detection and front collision warning with fully automatic emergency braking, including at junctions.

FAST FACTS

Volvo XC40 Recharge Electric Ultimate Twin

Price: £60,300

Mechanical: 402bhp twin electric motors driving all wheels via single speed transmission

Max Speed:112mph

0-62mph: 4.9 secs

Combined MPG: 259 miles

Insurance Group: 41

C02 emissions: 0g/km

Bik rating: 2%

Warranty: 8yrs/100,000 miles

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