Volvo XC40 Recharge
Important question: are performance versions of electric cars necessary?
A month spent with our new twin motor XC40 and let’s start with the good stuff. The spec is spot on – that Farrow and Ball-esque sage green paint sits perfectly with Volvo’s premium Scandi image, we now have heated seats and steering wheel, a reversing camera and black Alcantara everywhere. It looks expensive… which is fortunate, because it is. Over £60k for a small EV crossover is an eye-watering number.
The six-mile range bump over the single motor version is welcome, but in reality doesn't makes much difference, and I still find it baffling why you have to go into a sub menu on the central screen to get a range prediction and only a battery percentage on the instrument cluster. The speed bump, though, is significant. Stab the throttle and this thing goes like an electrocuted cat, which is handy for scaring the kids now and then, but nothing else about the car – and quite rightly so – is sporty. Its purpose is to make progress as calm, safe and forgettable as possible. A bruising turn of speed is the odd attribute out, especially as the XC40 Recharge Twin Motor isn’t badged or marketed as a performance derivative at all.
Which got me thinking about the whole idea of performance versions of EVs… are they necessary? I’m sure Ollie is grappling with the same thing with the Skoda Enyaq vRS he’s running, because the drawbacks (cost more, less range for the same battery size, potentially harsher suspension) seem to outweigh the benefits (faster in a straight line, more aggressive styling – assuming that’s your thing). At least with a petrol performance derivative your chunk of extra cash tends to buy you a more interesting, better sounding and more potent engine under the bonnet. You get a sense that the extra power was delivered through engineering toil with one eye on delivering an emotive driving experience, whereas an extra few hundred bhp of e-grunt is comparably low-hanging fruit.
So what’s my solution? If you want a performance car, a car to prickle your senses and get under your skin, buy one with an exciting petrol engine, drive it when the mood takes you and keep it forever. For all the boring stuff in-between, an electric car could be the zippy, fuss-free solution. And if you’re looking at the XC40 Recharge, unless four-wheel drive is top priority, don’t be lulled by the Twin Motor’s speed, fun as it is. Personally, I’d wait for the updated single-motor, big battery, rear-wheel drive version to arrive later this year and enjoy the peace-of-mind that a 320-mile range brings… that, not 0-62mph times, is the number that matters more when you go electric.