Volvo XC40 Recharge Review 2023 | Top Gear
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Saturday 25th March
What we have here is a sensible family car that - in twin motor guise - happens to go like the clappers

Good stuff

Design, overall build quality, performance, handling and ride

Bad stuff

Expensive for a ‘small’ SUV, some of the interior certainly doesn't match the price


What is it?

Volvo’s XC40 small SUV has been on sale since 2017, impressing with its Scandi sensibility and attention to detail. Three years later the XC40 Recharge was the Swedish carmaker’s first fully electric offering – trying to provide a compelling alternative to the likes of the BMW iX3, Mustang Mach-E or Volkswagen ID.4 – and of course the Polestar 2 with which it shares a platform and powertrains.

It was pricey at first, but the situation has been slightly improved with the introduction of single motor entry cars (as opposed to the fancier twin motor version) that now starts the range at around £47k.

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Is this just a normal XC40 with an e-motor shoved in?

The XC40 was designed from the beginning to take an electric powertrain, so it doesn’t suffer from some of the usual compromises that can happen here. It arguably doesn’t feel quite special enough inside to justify the price tag that its fancy electric tech demands, but to be fair to Volvo it throws in a lot of standard equipment to make you feel better about it.  

The XC40 Recharge looks identical to its ICE and PHEV siblings, bar the now obligatory blanked-off body colour grille and Recharge branding on the C-pillar. The charging port is on the nearside front wing, there are bespoke alloy wheel designs and some new exterior colours. 

Let’s talk numbers.

The XC40 Recharge comes with two powertrain options, the 228bhp single motor powertrain with 67kWh battery, and the perkier 402bhp twin motor set-up with 78kWh battery. These are officially rated at 264 and 270 miles of range, which is a reasonable number to aim for.

But wait! There is a caveat. At the start of 2023 Volvo announced that both powertrains would be getting updates later in the year, with slightly more power and more range in the offing. You can now only order the updated car on the configurator, so if you're wondering why our numbers don't match up with those on Volvo's website, that's the reason. Phew.

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Two nice bits of trivia – the new-for-2023 rear-wheel drive single motor will be the first RWD Volvo of this millennium, and the twin motor is one of the elite band of Volvos to make it to 62mph from rest in under five seconds. Wow.

In more practical figures, the single motor will charge from 10 to 80 per cent of battery in 27 minutes on a 150kW charger, which is also impressively fast. More like 11 hours on your home wall box, mind. The updated twin motor will unlock 200kW charging when it arrives.

How does the XC40 Recharge drive?

It’s all very sensible, unless you’re in the ridiculously powerful twin motor, in which case it’s not very sensible. The XC40 is an easy car to live with day to day, if you’re worried about switching to electric.

The Plus-spec trim has a keyless entry system that means you can just leave the key in your pocket and don’t even need to press a start button, it just registers the pressure of your posterior on the driver’s seat and it’s ready to go. This is the pointiest and squirtiest of cars.

The twin motor car offers bonkers performance from a family crossover, but the whole range is impressively refined. The interior is decently put together with some interesting trim options, while the ride is smooth and sophisticated. You’ll be spoiled for other cheaper cars.

Our choice from the range

What's the verdict?

In EV guise the XC40’s worthier attributes... are augmented by a remarkable new turn of speed

We’ve loved the XC40 from the start but had a few reservations about the powertrains. Not any more. In EV guise the XC40’s worthier attributes – the thoughtful packaging, sense of wellbeing and design – are augmented by a remarkable new turn of speed. Like the Tesla Model 3 (and related Polestar 2), the XC40 Recharge makes an almost irresistible case for electrification.

Sure it's not cheap, but it’s loaded with kit and the twin motor version has enough pace and balance on a good road to keep much more overtly sporting cars honest. The semi-skimmed single motor car is simply a great day to day family car.

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