2022 Volvo XC40 Recharge first drive review: Sport car in SUV disguise
With almost all the major auto giants launching greener vehicles in India, Volvo is the latest to join the show with its new 2022 XC40 Recharge. The electrified compact SUV is Volvo's answer to the more mainstream European premium players. And in India, the brand is aiming to capture the niche set of buyers with greener ambitions. Volvo might not be the loudest of automakers present but its cars speak volumes. And with XC40 Recharge the Swedish carmaker is planning to go all in at the luxury electric car market that is just beginning to show the right signs. So what exactly is the XC40 Recharge all about? Read on to know.
On the outside it looks just like its ICE-powered version that has been around for years now. Well of course there is a completely closed off grille at the front which comes with body coloured panels, and there are also no exhaust tips accompanied with a different set of alloy wheels. That said, the car doesn't scream out loud that it is any different than the regular ICE XC40, of course, if you ignore the EV ‘Recharge’ badging at its rear door that is the only electric branding that it gets on its entire body. However, if it zips past you on a highway, it still manages to look exactly like its traditional counterpart.
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Though the XC40 Recharge might not look as exclusive as say some other cars in the segment, Swedish people don't brag. Given how loud every other automaker is about their EVs these days, XC40 Recharge is equally sedate and top shelf classy. From its Thor hammer headlamps to the build quality that’s simply best in the business, the XC40 Recharge is everything you desire in a premium luxury SUV of its class.
How's the cabin?
Open the door and you'll see where all the money has gone in. The door feels heavy, and solid speaking volumes of the car's build quality and shuts with a reassuring thud. Sit inside and you'll find that the overall layout of the cabin remains more or less the same as the regular car.
Elegance and sophistication drip in every detail of the cabin. The 12.3-inch driver's fully digital screen upfront shows all the necessary details in a clear and uncluttered format. That said, one of the key highlights inside the cabin is its new 9.0-inch vertical touch-screen infotainment system that has been developed in coordination with Google. And Volvo has gone all-in for the car’s Google's software which handles navigation, voice assistant queries, and provides easy access to the Play Store. This also allows several vehicle-based applications to be downloaded and used instantly. The screen also displays a host of information and acts a centre to control the systems on the car. Climate controls are handled by this screen, which means you’re pecking at it to adjust the temperature or you can ask Google to adjust the heat or AC. There’s bunch of other info that you can browse through and select including, 360-degree camera, one pedal drivee, lane assist, and of course you can also control the entire sound system for individual seats.
Speaking of the sound, it gets an exceptional Harman Kardon sound system that surely is a league above.
The unit to be sold to the Indian customers will get 100% leather-free upholstery which is just another way of showing how much Volvo cares for the environment.
Needless to say, the entire cabin of the car is very thoughtfully put together and it offers everything I absolutely loved about the standard XC40, including useful cubby storage, comfortable driving position, and spacious first- and second-row seating. It is evident that with the new electric transition, the XC40 has lost none of its cargo space, so it is also as much practical as the regular model in terms luggage space.
How's it to drive?
To put it in the simplest words, the XC40 Recharge is a butter knife that cuts deep. As sedate and laid back it might look on the outside, it is completely the opposite once you take control of the steering. And that's largely because of its colossal 660 Nm and 408 hp output that's delivered by its twin motors placed at the either end, juiced up by its 78kWh battery pack.
The company claims its 0-100 kmph acceleration timing of 4.9 seconds, but I am sure the car feels even quicker than that. For the record, it similar to the performance of say a Volkswagen Golf R or an entry level Mustang, and it sure is fast. Put a heavy foot on the pedal and the burst of speed will make you fly like a rocket on freeways and its absolutely bonkers.
Making the experience even better is the Recharge's one-pedal drive mode, achieved through its excellent regenerative braking. With this mode you can drive the car around using a single pedal and this can be turned off completely, and I am sure it will come handy when in chock-a-block traffic conditions.
Recharge sure goes like sport car in a straight line, but it may not outrun one around a corner. Handling is reassuring enough, and four-wheel drive means tons of grip, but it’s not exactly the kind of car that you’ll be seeking out on twisting roads. On the other side, the ride is highly comfortable, although the some large bumps can jolt through the cabin due to its slightly stiffened setup. Wind and road noise are also well controlled, and it is fairly quite inside the cabin.
As far as the full battery cycle is concerned, it gets up to 418 km WLTP range which is quite impressive. While I didn’t get chance to test the full range, I did drive the car for close to 240 odd kilometers and still managed to return with around 30% charge left in it. It supports 150kw DC fast charging using which you can get it from 10-80% charge in just 33 minutes.
The final word:
The pricing of the XC40 Recharge in India will be rolled out in the next few months and it will join the burgeoning luxury electric SUV segment in the country which is currently dominated by the mainstream European premium players. However, Volvo has a very strong case with the XC40 Recharge that ticks all the right boxes and all that Volvo India needs now is an aggressive price to make the case even stronger.
- Impressive performance
- Exceptional Harman Kardon sound system
- Limited range