While other carmakers might be using EVs to promote efficiency, low running costs and other such unremarkable things, Volvo is looking to make a big bang with the blistering performance of the XC40 Recharge. We drive it to see what it offers to customers, other than neck-snapping acceleration.
In a conservative and economy conscious automotive market like India, most discussions about cars in general, and especially EVs, tend to move towards their efficiency, how cheap they are to run, and their environmental benefit. But, when it comes to Volvo’s first EV in India, this is simply not enough, and the brand wants to make a bigger splash. So, what do you do when you want your EV to stand out? Well, bring in the most powerful version possible and talk about the performance of a compact SUV which puts most sports cars to shame! This is all the more surprising given how Volvo has always been perceived in India as a brand with traditional values and a focus on safety.
Make no mistake, Volvo very consciously knows that to make a large impact, an EV has to stand out for more than just driving range and price. And that’s why the brand has brought in the full-fat dual-motor AWD version of the XC40 Recharge to India. After all, if you’re going to let your customers experience something new, surprise them with such performance that it leaves an impression on their brains. No surprise then, that with its 408bhp and 660Nm of torque, the XC40 Recharge has more power and torque than the Porsche Taycan offered in India! But first, let’s talk about the basics of the car before we get into the details of driving and other important things.
Not much Change
When it comes to design, there is very little that has changed between the regular ICE-powered XC40 and the Recharge. In this version, you get new badging, a different front grille which is essentially a plastic fascia, different 19-inch wheels and Recharge badging on the C-pillar. Of course, practicality has increased on the Recharge with there being a storage space under the front bonnet, because, of course, now there’s no engine. The interiors of the XC40 also remain very similar to what's offered on the ICE variant.
However, the Recharge does come very well equipped as standard. The car that you see in this picture is not exactly India spec, as the cars that will come to India – prices of the Recharge will be announced in July, while delivered being in October – will be slightly different. Two major changes will be that this red shade will not be offered – which is a shame because I think the XC40 looks great in this colour with its contrast roof – and there’ll also be an optional leather-free interior.
Of course, being a typical Volvo you’ll find a full suite of safety features on the XC40, as well as more goodies such as a panoramic roof, a digital instrument cluster, and a large multimedia system that now comes with Google integration. One particular highlight of the infotainment system is the integration of ‘Hey Google’ which picks up voice commands even with Indian accents very easily and makes for easy control without having to take your eyes off the road when you’re trying to change the cabin temperature or setting a new destination on navigation. The interior also feels very well-built with extremely comfortable seats and good finishing. However, there are some XC40 related compromises, such as the rear seat cushion not providing enough under-thigh support.
Like a Rocket
Now, rockets can be some of the fastest accelerating machines on this planet, and the XC40 Recharge doesn’t feel too different from that experience. In fact, as I said to Volvo officials, customers of the Recharge will have to recalibrate their brains to get used to the performance of the EV, and how fast the XC40 accelerates, especially in what we call in-gear acceleration. If you’re doing 60 and even accidentally squeeze the throttle pedal, you’ll be seeing the national speed limit of 120 on the speedo before you can even blink.
The extent of the performance is such that whether you’re doing a standing start or overtaking other traffic, there’s hardly any vehicle that is able to keep up with the XC40 Recharge. With 660Nm available in what is essentially a Creta sized vehicle, the performance is blistering, and might I say addictive. The suspension also supports here, delivering terrific ride comfort even on some very broken Delhi-Gurgaon highway stretches. And, of course, there’s the NVH, which is brilliant and the car feels like a very silent place to be in, delivering maximum refinement.
A couple of niggles also get noticed though. One, despite its small size, like all EVs, the XC40 Recharge is hefty, weighing in around the 2.2-ton mark in international spec. And you can feel this weight when going through some bad patches of road, or when trying to corner aggressively. It’s well masked in everyday driving, but push the performance envelope and the mass makes its presence known. Secondly, I would’ve liked a little more feel through the steering wheel, as it currently feels a bit too inert for my liking. And lastly, there are no multiple brake regeneration settings available, and the single setting available for the single-pedal operation of the EV was a bit too extreme for me. A couple of options in the intensity of the brake regeneration would be a welcome addition to the feature list.
Making a Bang
But, I think, overwhelmingly, people are going to love what the XC40 Recharge offers. I simply loved the performance it offers in a compact package that’s perfectly suited to our urban centres with the capability of taking long road trips too. In fact, I said in my video review that this is one of the most fun-to-drive EVs that I’ve driven. And when it comes to the all-important matter of range, the 78kWh battery pack is claimed to offer 400kms on a single charge, however, in the real world a mark of 300-320kms is what you will get.
With a practical size, impressive feature list and mind-blowing performance with a practical real-world range, the Volvo XC40 Recharge offers a compelling package to Indian customers. Sure, it won’t be cheap, but then, good things in life rarely are.
- Volvo XC40 Recharge
Motors: Dual Permanent-Magnet Synchronous AC
Battery: 78kWh Liquid-cooled Li-ion
Transmission: Single-Speed Direct Drive; AWD
Peak Power: 408bhp
Peak Torque: 660Nm
Charging Time: 2.5hours (DC II 50kW Fast Charging); 33mins (up to 80% via 150kW charging)
Range: Up to 418kms (WLTP Cycle)
X-Factor: The XC40 Recharge blows our brains with its performance, it really is one hell of an EV to drive!