First Drive: Volvo XC40 P8 Recharge
It looks like a Volvo XC40, but underneath beats the heart of a Polestar, explains Martyn Collins.
SECTOR Medium SUV PRICE £49,950-£56,450 CHARGING 7.4kW AC/150kW DC RANGE 257 miles
Apart from the sealed grille, Volvo’s first all-electric model looks pretty unchanged from its smallest SUV – the XC40. This is no bad thing, as even after three years on sale, it still looks sharp, inside and out and keeps winning awards – most recently we crowned it Best Fleet Medium SUV.
Other changes for the P8 over the standard XC40 include the ‘Recharge’ branding on the C-pillars – denoting Volvo’s electric sub-brand, plus new exterior colours and alloy wheel designs.
Inside, there’s an updated 12.3-inch display for the instruments first seen in the Polestar 2.
Also shared with the Polestar is a new version of the central display with its configurable tiles. Powered by Android with Google Assistant, it’s slicker to operate than Volvo’s Sensus infotainment system. The only downside is that only Android Auto is supported, although Spotify is included so music can be streamed.
There’s ample space in the front of the XC40 and the driving position is excellent, with the seats super comfy as expected. The boot too is a decent size at 413 litres, with the added bonus of an extra 31 litres at the front where the engine used to be. This is perfect stowage for the charging cables.
On the road, this Volvo feels like a taller version of the Polestar 2 – which is a good thing. The steering is accurate, the handling surprisingly agile – despite the tall body and considerable 2,188kg weight. Even the ride is surprisingly comfortable on the standard 20-inch alloy wheels. Not sporty, but the way this XC40 accelerates never fails to put a smile on your face.
The reasons why this XC40 feels like the Polestar 2 is because it sits on the same (CMA) Common Modular Architecture. This means the P8 is powered by a 78kWh battery, which powers two electric motors on both axles, giving four-wheel drive, plus a colossal 660Nm of torque and all with 1% BiK for company car buyers. 60mph acceleration is demolished in just 4.7 seconds, yet the P8 still has a range of 257 miles.
Both AC and DC charging work with this Volvo, with two cables included: a 7-metre Mode 2 cable that can be plugged into any domestic socket, plus a 4.5-metre Mode 3 faster charging cable. When it is time for charging, it can take up to seven and a half hours to get to fully charged from an 11kW wall box. Use one of the latest 150kW fast chargers, and this drops to 40 minutes for an 80% charge. Having lived with this electric Volvo, we’d say the 257-mile range is quite accurate.
It’s very simple to drive, just like the Polestar; all you need to get going once in the ca, is to select a gear and off you go. The P8’s ride might be comfortable, but there’s quite a bit of road noise as there’s no engine, so it’s more noticeable. Still, it can be easily drowned out by the excellent standard stereo.
Where the XC40 P8 Recharge succeeds is that it adds welcome character to an already talented medium SUV.
Not just an XC40 without an engine, the P8 recharge is thoroughly re-engineered, with impressive technology and range being the other highlights.
Key Fleet Model: Volvo XC40 P8 Recharge
Strengths: Style, technology, good to drive, range
Weaknesses: Weight, price
Fleet World Star Rating