Alain Kuhn Von Kuhnenfeld
Volvo XC40 Recharge
This week we are reviewing the 2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge. Our vehicle was assembled at the Ghent plant in Belgium and had an MSRP of CAD 64,950.00.
Fun Factor: 9
It has 402hp and 486 lb/ft of torque and is faster than a Porsche Macan GTS. If someone had told us in 2019 that a Volvo XC40 would achieve this, we might have been a little surprised. The XC40 T5 was already as fast as a base Porsche Macan at the time, but we would not have expected such a leap by adding an electric powertrain. Additionally, these performances don't require activating some fancy launch control. It's available at any time and almost all the time except when the battery is low. There is one drawback with all that performance: the weight of the battery, giving the XC40 Recharge a strange bubbly feeling when cornering in conjunction with the perceptible body roll. The XC40 Recharge is no sports car. On the other hand, the suspension tuning is a delight over bumps and road imperfections, making them barely perceptible inside the vehicle. We wished the XC40 Recharge had different driving modes as the only one available is Sport mode. The AWD system is always on even when not needed, reducing the battery range.
Can it Family: 8
The XC40 has always been a favourite in the sub-compact segment. It takes advantage of its boxy shape to offer plenty of space for passengers. You will find several hooks in the trunk to attach your grocery bags and dividers that will help keep items organized and room enough to carry a stroller, playpen and other family gear. Often switching from a gas-powered to an electric vehicle means losing space to the battery or charging cables. Volvo remedies this by adding a frunk and placing the battery under the car. Of course, you can also use the frunk to carry other items when the trunk is full.
While Volvo announces up to 359km of range, we observed a range closer to 300km in real life. Our average electric consumption of 24.2 kWh/100km during our 1500km test confirms this. The battery size of the XC40 rocks 78 kWh. We did see better performance in the city with an average consumption of 23.6 kWh/100, and on the Hwy, we saw an average of 25.2 kWh/100km. During our test, outside temperatures oscillated between +22C and +7C. Volvo's official numbers for the XC40 recharge are 24.5 kWh/100km in the city, 29.2kWh/100km on the Hwy and combined consumption of 26.6 kWh/100km.
Where the Volvo XC40 falls short is on the Hwy, the vehicle will not show the remaining range; it will show you this in % left. It will only show you the range in KM once the battery is red. This has been addressed in the new 1.7 update, which we did not get to test yet. This update will also better manage pre-conditioning in cold weather, resulting in better range during the winter months.
As for the infotainment, Volvo has turned its back on the Sensus system and switched to Android OS; this system works quite similarly to a smartphone. It means no Apple Car Play and no Android Auto, everything on your phone connects using Bluetooth. This may require some getting used to it as pairing isn't necessary to have your maps and music. This means you'll need to log into your Spotify account, for example, through the vehicle's app. Another change is the settings, hidden in submenus far and deep, making the whole experience unpleasant. For example, to remove the one-pedal driving, you need to go into the menu and make sure you have selected the correct option. It's undoubtedly not a pleasant experience as it requires taking your eyes off the road. The "Crème de la crème" sound system Volvo offers is the Bowers & Wilkins system. Sadly in the XC40 recharge, they went with a 13-speaker hi-fi system from Harman Kardon that includes an air-ventilated subwoofer. The system reproduction is accurate and will delight acoustic music enthusiasts. But the system does lack some of the heavy base making EDM or urban music sound flat with a delayed reverb.
As for the installation of car seats, the system used to hide the ISOFIX is one of the best methods in a vehicle. The flap opens only when in use without removing it and closes when not in use without bothering passengers. The rear doors open wide enough to enter a child seat without acrobatics. The only thing we disliked when installing child seats was that the actual ISOFIX port to latch the car seat was far within the car's seat, making installing certain specific car seats harder than it should. The XC40 could have received an almost perfect score, especially since much thought has gone into designing the ISOFIX ports and children's comfort.
City Cruising: 10
In the city, the XC40 recharge feels the most enjoyable. Its compact size makes it easy to park pretty much anywhere. The 360-camera view makes it even simpler with its crisp quality. As mentioned above, the performances are surprisingly shocking; you can be sure to leave the red light before any V8-powered muscle car that is still scrambling for traction before you have reached the next intersection. But this isn't the only party trick of the XC40; the footprint it takes makes it more usable than its competition. If you look at BMW X1, Audi's Q3 and Mercedes GLA, the interior space is not as functional as within the XC40. Also, none of its direct competitors have a fully electric vehicle under their belt. The only real competition is the Model 3 or the Model Y, but both have their shortcomings.
Why would we buy the 2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge, or what we liked about it?
It's fast, the interior space is roomy and minimalist in the most Swedish way possible. The shifter doesn't need to be pulled back twice like in other Volvo products. Yes, please extend it to all your lineup.
Why would we not buy the 2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge, or what did we not like about it?
The range only shows in percentage unless you're close to depletion. (As mentioned above, the latest software update fixed this; however, it was annoying while testing). The range is nowhere near the announced range, even driving it smoothly. The new infotainment is a step backwards; there is no Apple CarPlay. Everything works through the android infotainment. If your vehicle doesn't have internet, google maps isn't functional in several instances; we had to tether our phone for the system to function fully.
Volvo has lent us this vehicle one week as a press vehicle. We have no affiliation with Volvo Canada. The above is a recollection of our personal opinion of the car referred above.