1 / 10
- Launched: 2021
- Small SUV
- Volvo’s first EV
- Impressive range of 250 miles
- Charges to 80% in just 40 minutes
- Expensive list prices
- A long waiting list
- A Kia E-Niro is much cheaper and has a longer range
On the inside
Cost to run
Prices and Specs
Overall verdict on the Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric
"Volvo has made headlines for its drive to have a purely electric car range and the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric is the first step. However, it’s very expensive even when compared to other electric cars, some with better ranges. Yes it’s very fast but we expect that like us, many people will see it as too pricey to switch from a petrol or diesel."
The standard Volvo XC40 has become one of our favourite small SUVs in recent years, with the range continuing to evolve with the arrival of both a plug-in hybrid and Volvo's first dedicated electric car, the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric. With the Swedish manufacturer aiming for all-electric vehicles to make up for half of its global sales by 2025 (with hybrid cars accounting for the rest), our 2022 Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric review will find out just how good it's first EV really is.
Perhaps a little confusingly Volvo's decided to badge both its electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids as 'Recharge', with the electric variants having Pure Electric tacked on as well. While the name feels pretty cumbersome, the Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric is the epitome of Scandi cool.
The Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric uses the same design as the standard XC40, with it's striking 'Thor's Hammer' daytime running lights, clamshell bonnet, heavily sculpted doors and distinctive rear pillars, while there are also plenty of two-tone paint schemes to choose from as well. The only difference is that the concave grille has been replaced by a body-coloured panel. It's a sharp design that still looks good a few years on from launch of the original car.
At the heart of the Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric is a 78kWh battery pack that drives two motors to rocket the car to 62mph in under five seconds and will deliver a claimed range of up to 259 miles. You cannot not be impressed with the performance of the Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric, but for most people we reckon that have happily sacrificed a bit of this outright pace for a slightly more competitive range that's closer to 300 miles.
The Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric is certainly quick away from the lights, but it'll reward a more relaxed driving style, and while it might have AWD, this isn't an off-roader. It'll certainly deliver more grip in wet and wintery conditions, but you're not going to want to go green laneing in it.
Volvo does very good interiors and the Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric is no exception. Just like the standard XC40 it's spacious and comfortable, leaving you feeling less hemmed in than when sat in some rival SUVs, while the quality and attention to detail is excellent. Adding to the harmonic feel of the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric is the streamlined central console, with most of the car's controls accessed via the portrait-orientated touchscreen. Volvo's made the switch from its own Sensus interface to Google Android Automotive as well, bringing with it a number of enhanced features.
While the Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric's boot capacity has shrunk a little to 413-litres compared to 460 on the standard car, loosing the engine at the front has allowed Volvo's engineers to create a 31-litre ‘frunk’, which should confuse a few people when you drop your weekly Waitrose shop in there.
What's the best Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric model/engine to choose?
Volvo's kept things pretty simple with the Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric, offering only one 78kWh battery that delivers range of up to 259 miles (according to WLTP testing).
It's driven by dual motors, giving the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric four-wheel drive to shove it along nicely - it'll get to 62mph in a sports car-worrying time of 4.9 seconds.
There are three models to choose from - Twin, Twin Plus and Twin Pro. Out of the three the Twin Plus gets the balance about right for features, though we probably would miss some of the advanced driver assist tech as standard on the Twin Pro.
What other cars are similar to the Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric?
The top-of-the-range Twin Pro model is aiming to attract premium electric SUV buyers, so will be targeting those looking at the likes of the Jaguar I-Pace and Audi Q4 e-tron. There's also the BMW iX3 to consider as well, along with the slightly more affordable Volkswagen ID.4 and Skoda Enyaq.
Comfort and design: Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric interior
"An interior that's typically Swedish."
When you climb inside the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric, there's nothing brash or ostentatious about the interior. The quality mirrors that of the larger Volvos, with a luxuriously clean and minimalist interior.
While the exterior dimensions are pretty modest compared to rivals, that certainly doesn't translate to a small cabin. In fact, step inside the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric and it feels very spacious indeed. This is helped by the clutter-free look that's been crafted by Volvo's designers, with the 9.0-inch portrait-orientated touchscreen the gateway to pretty much every element of the XC40's entertainment, convenience and safety functions.
This streamlined design does have its compromises, as the over reliance on touchscreen controls can make it tricky to use and change settings when on the move. It's not just an issue unique to the Volvo and the XC40, as other manufacturers are just as guilty, so it's worth trying out to make sure you're comfortable with it. Happily though there are still a few physical buttons in the centre console, including front and rear window defrost and hazard warning lights.
Just like the standard XC40, Volvo offers a range of interior finishes on the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric, so you can tailor it to your taste.
Quality and finish
Volvo interiors are some of the best around, rivalling those from the likes of Audi and Mercedes, and the interior in the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric is no exception.
It might be the baby of the Volvo range (in terms of size at least), but the interior quality of the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric excellent. All the touch points feel nicely engineered - there's nothing here that feels like it's going to break or wear easily overtime. It'll certainly stand up to some heavy family use, though the finish is so nice you'll instinctively want to look after it.
There's some clever thinking here as well. For example, there's no hard plastic surround for the centre console, instead Volvo's played it clever and extended the carpet up the sides. It's a little thing perhaps, but it certainly feels that bit nicer. The same goes for the door panels as well, with bits of carpet adding a greater feeling of luxury than you'd get with plastic door panels.
When Volvo does use plastics, they're high-quality - there's no sign of cost-cutting here with cheap scratchy plastics, while the other materials used including the metals and leather all have a premium feel. The XC40 Recharge Pure Electric is a car that feels really well bolted together.
Infotainment: Touchscreen, USB, nav and stereo in the Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric
Just as we've seen in other modern Volvos, the dashboard on the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric is a 9.0-inch portrait-style infotainment system. Why portrait format? Volvo's argument when it was first introduced was that people want to see where they're going on a map, not either side of it.
Volvo hasn't just chucked in the same system that's found in the standard XC40 though. Instead of using it's in-house Sensus Connect infotainment interface, Volvo's opted to use Google Android Automotive, just as we've seen with the Polestar 2.
This acts as your gateway to pretty much all of the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric's key functions: navigation, music, phone and settings. Don't think this is a slightly tweaked Android Auto, as it's a lot more integrated into how you can use the car if you wish. For a start, it allows you to use voice commands to change the car’s settings. As an example, you can say: ‘Hey Google, set the cabin temperature 22 degrees.’ And the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric will happily oblige - which is a good thing, as the only other way to change the climate control is via the touchscreen, and it's a bit of a faff when you're on the move.
There's also Google Maps as well for navigation, while there's also access to the likes of Spotify to stream music or access the music on your smartphone via Bluetooth. Don't worry, there's also a DAB radio as well, but there's no smartphone mirroring just yet. This will come via an over-the-air update later this year.
The standard eight-speaker stereo in the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric is very good, but for those really into their audio, then the 13-speaker Harman Kardon sound system should be ticked on the options list. With the benefit of a subwoofer, 600 watts and Dolby Pro Logic TT surround sound, the sound quality is sensational.
Space and practicality: Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric boot space
As the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric is the same design as the XC40, the dimensions are exactly the same as well (4425mm long and 1873mm since you're asking). This makes it a bit shorter than the likes of the BMW iX3 (4734mm) and Audi Q4 e-tron (4588mm) and a little bit narrower than both.
Up front and passengers sit up nice and high, while the front seats are some of the comfiest you'll find on a small SUV. There's some clever storage solutions too. The pockets on the front door panels are large enough to stow a laptop or tablet (if you need too), while the speakers that would normally take up space here have been moved to an air-ventilated dash-mounted subwoofer. Then there's the wide centre console that's perfect for stowing away bits and bobs.
Moving to the back and the high roofline design of the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric means there's plenty of headroom for passengers in the back. There's a good amount of space across the rear bench to accommodate three adults if needed, but the big hump in the centre will mean the middle passenger will have to straddle this. If you're going to be filling the back with a couple of kids and car seats, this won't be an issue, though they might moan that they can't see out of the window that easily thanks to the slick exterior lines of the XC40 that flicks up at the back.
The XC40 Recharge Pure Electric offers 413 litres of boot space, which is less than the 460 litres of the regular model. Although, due to the space saved by the absence of an engine, it gains a 31-litre ‘frunk’ storage area underneath the bonnet at the front. Handy for small trips to the shops.
Handling and ride quality: What is the Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric like to drive?
"We were impressed with how Volvo got the balance of the standard XC40 pretty much spot on for an SUV, and that's transferred across to the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric."
This is despite the fact it's that bit heavier than the standard XC40 thanks to added weight of the batteries. Overall the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric is a very assured and relaxed drive.
There's no getting away from the fact though that the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric is pretty tall, so you can expect a little bit of body roll if you chuck it into a corner, but there's still plenty of grip thanks to the four-wheel drive.
There's decent turn of pace there as well, but the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric hardly puts the Sport into SUV. It'll reward a smooth, flowing driving style rather than constantly attacking corners in it - that's what a hot hatch is for. This level of driver engagement is reflected in the steering. It's not as sharp as some rivals, with the BMW iX3 delivering that bit more feel, though the payoff with the iX3 is a harsher ride.
Don't get us wrong though, the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric's steering is still nice and accurate both around town and on faster roads, but it excels if you're after a more relaxed drive with lighter inputs. For the times when you do want to have a bit more fun though, dive into the driver assistance menu and find the 'Steering feels firm' option. It does what the name suggests and adds a bit more weight to the steering for those times when you've got a fun bit of road ahead of you.
What engines and gearboxes are available in the Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric?
While other manufacturers are tending to offer some battery variations to suit different needs, the Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric keeps things simple with just one battery type available.
The 78kWh battery pack powers two electric motors that sees the four-wheel-drive XC40 Recharge Pure Electric have an impressive total output of 408PS and 660Nm of torque.
The battery located beneath the car's floor and capable of being charged to 80 per cent in under 40 minutes. Charging is available through an 11kW AC charger or a 150kW DC fast-charger.
The electric XC40 will cover 0-62mph in a rapid 4.9 seconds, says Volvo, while top speed is limited to 112mph. It's not just about headline grabbing stats though, as this power and turn of speed is readily available when you need it - perfect when you need to make light work of slow traffic on a crawler lane. It's also at home on the motorway, and doesn't feel like it's struggling at higher speeds that's the case with some other EVs.
Maximum range in the Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric
There's only one battery pack to choose from, with the 78kWn delivering a maximum range of up to 259 miles according to WLTP. These are under perfect conditions, so when used in the real world you can expect this to be a bit less - just over 200 miles.
It's certainly a very useable range, but compared to some rivals, it's a little short. The Audi Q4 40 e-tron with its larger 82kWh battery is capable of an impressive 316 miles (the entry-level Audi Q4 35 e-tron can travel up to 208 miles), while the Jaguar I-Pace and Polestar 2 are both good for up to 292 miles on a full charge.
Refinement and noise levels
Just like the standard XC40, the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric is smooth and settled, cruising quietly at speeds. Expect a bit more tyre roar on versions with the largest alloy wheels - something to think about if you're looking at the Twin Pro and its 20-inch alloys, but it doesn't detract from the overall refinement of the car.
Perhaps a little weirdly for a premium SUV, the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric doesn't have the option of spec'ing it with adaptive suspension. Despite this, we've found it to be one of the more comfortable electric SUVs on the market, even handling uneven town roads and rough country lanes without too much fuss.
Safety equipment: How safe is the Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric?
Volvo is a byword when it comes to car safety, so it's no surprise to see the Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric is excellent in this area.
The Volvo XC40 was awarded a top-scoring five-stars by Euro NCAP for crash safety back in 2018, with adult occupant protection rated at a near-perfect 97%. Child occupant protection is also very good, too, at 87%. While the Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric hasn't been tested separately (and it won't be evidently), Volvo claims the electric version to be just as safe as its combustion engine stablemates.
As you'd expect, Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric comes with a heap of standard safety equipment. This includes a full set of airbags, including a driver’s knee airbag and full-length curtain airbags, ISOFIX child seat mounting points for the outer two rear seats (it’s optional for the front passenger seat), an airbag cut-off switch and a seatbelt reminder for all five seats. The front seats also have Volvo’s WHIPS whiplash protection system.
There's also a ton of active safety features as standard on the Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric. You'll find automatic emergency braking (known as AEB and referred to by Volvo as City Safety autonomous emergency braking). This detects cyclists and pedestrians as well as other cars and large animals. There's also Oncoming Lane Mitigation that helps stop the Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric driving over the road's centre line and into danger.
Volvo also offers blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert as part of it's IntelliSafe Surround package. The XC40 Recharge Pure Electric is also the first Volvo to feature a new version of Pilot Assist, driver-assist tech which supports steering, acceleration and braking. There's also a new Emergency Stop Assist function now included, too, meaning that if the driver is not holding the steering wheel while Pilot Assist is activated, the driver will be warned in different stages until the vehicle is brought to a safe stop.
Charging times: How much does it cost to charge the Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric?
"With a large 78 kWh battery, the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric has a projected range of more than 250 miles."
If you're charging at home we'd recommend investing in a 7kW wallbox charger which will charge the Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric in about 11 hours. Based on the average cost for standard electricity last year of 17.2p/kWh (though in some areas that can be more or less), expect to pay around £13 to fully charge the Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric. That's from 0-100% and reality is you don't want to let the battery drop below 10% (with Volvo recommending it doesn't go below 20%).
If you're on the move, the the Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric can be charged from 10 to 80% in as little as 33 minutes via a 150kW DC fast charger.
The Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric's built in route planner can also alert you when to charge before power runs low, while it also recommends when and where to charge
How reliable is the Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric?
The Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric is still pretty new, but the XC40 is proving to be extremely reliable, so we expect similar from the Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric. The standard XC40 achieved an impressive reliability score of 9.82 in the 2020 HonestJohn.co.uk Satisfaction Index.
The Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric comes with a 3 year/60,000 warranty, while the battery has an 8 year/100,000 warranty.
Insurance groups and costs
While standard Volvo XC40 starts in insurance group 18 for the entry-level T2 model, it's quite a bit more to insure the fully electric model.
Insurance for the Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric starts in insurance group 41 for the Twin, only going up an insurance group for either the Twin Pro, Twin Plus or R Design variants (sold when the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric was initially launched). As always, it's worth shopping around when it comes to car insurance.
VED car tax: What is the annual road tax on a Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric?
First the good news. Because there are now tailpipe CO2 emissions from the Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric, the base rate for the for the annual car tax will be £0. Don't get too carried away though just yet - as the Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric has a list price starting at £49,950, it will be hit with a £325/year premium car tax for five years (from the second time the car is taxed). After that, it's free.
How much should you be paying for a Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric?
"High list price means you don't get to use Government grant..."
Prices start at £49,950 and the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric is the first of five fully electric cars to be launched by Volvo over the next five years. The second of which is the Volvo C40, which is now on sale.
However, with a list price nudging over £50,000 (especially once you've added in options), the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric won't qualify for the UK plug-in car grant (£3000) following changes made in the Government's budget in March 2020.
A handful of used Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electrics are available, but expect to pay upwards of £60,000 for one.
Trim levels and standard equipment
Volvo's streamlined the Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric range down two three models, called Twin, Twin Plus and Twin Pro. If you're looking for the popular R Design trim, that's only available with the combustion engine XC40.
The XC40 Recharge Pure Electric in Twin trim is the most affordable option and comes with 19-inch alloy wheels, active LED headlamps, rear parking sensors and a electrically operated tailgate all as standard. Move inside and the Twin trim enjoys a large 12.3-inch digital dash and 9-inch infotainment system that's powered by Google software (so different from the standard XC40's Senus system), while there's also wireless phone charging and dual-zone climate control.
Next up is the Twin Plus model that adds front parking sensors and a rear parking camera. There's also some more creature comforts inside, with electric seat adjustment, a heated steering wheel and heated front seats. All this starts at £52,950 before options.
The top-of-the-range XC40 Recharge Pure Electric is the Twin Pro. This sees 20-inch alloy wheels as standard, a panoramic roof, auto-dimming door mirrors and a useful 360-degree parking camera. There's also plenty of semi-automomous driving tech as standard, including Pilot Assist. Prices start at £56,700.
Ask the heycar experts: common questions
Is the Volvo XC40 electric?
The Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric is electric. It's as easy to live with as the normal car but it's zero-emissions electric powertrain means it's exempt from paying inner city tariffs like the London Congestion Charge.
Is the Volvo XC40 worth the money?
The Volvo XC40 is worth the money if you want a small, funky SUV that's practical and very safe. It's a comfortable car to drive and comes with autonomous driving aids that take the sting out of long journeys.
heycar editorial team
How long will it take to charge my Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric?
It'll take around 36hrs to fill the Volvo XC40 Recharge's empty battery using a three-pin plug, but just 7.5hrs if you use a 11kW wall-mounted charger.