Volvo’s new XC40 Recharge brings added efficiency and range

Volvo has given the drivetrain of its XC40 Recharge a big tweak and Jack Evans has headed to Sweden to see what difference it has made.

Volvo isn’t often one for radical changes. You only need to look at its current line-up of cars to see that over the years this company’s approach has been more about steady evolution rather than ground-up revisions. So it comes as little surprise that the car we’re looking at today – Volvo’s XC40 – has undergone the mildest of changes for 2023.

But where the edits have taken place are designed to make a real difference – but more on that shortly. As an entry into the very competitive SUV segment, the XC40 needs to deliver – but does it? We’ve been finding out.

The big talking point with this revised XC40 centres around which of its wheels are powered. Previously front-wheel-drive, the new model now has rear-driven wheels which, Volvo says, helps with efficiency and making the most of the battery’s charge. On single-motor cars like the one we’re driving – twin-motor versions are also available – the battery size has remained the same at 67kWh, but the move to rear-wheel-drive helps to boost efficiency.

Photo: PA Media

Save for these edited underpinnings, we’ve not got a lot to differentiate the XC40 from the older version. There’s the continued use of eco-friendly materials inside, however, with ‘our’ car sporting a very pleasing wool-based interior.

As we’ve mentioned, the XC40 we’re testing today uses a single motor driving the rear wheels. You get 235bhp and 420Nm of torque, too, resulting in a zero to 60mph time of 7.1 seconds. Its top speed, as it is on all modern Volvos, is limited to 112mph. Opt for the twin-motor version and you’ll see this acceleration figure drop to just 4.6 seconds, too.

Range? That’s up to 290 miles from a previous high of 264, meaning that this XC40 can definitely go further on a charge. Opt for the dual-motor version and you’ll see a top range figure of 334 miles up front 270, mainly down to a larger battery than before.

Despite that switch to rear-wheel-drive, there’s not much change in the way the XC40 drives – but that’s no bad thing. It’s still a comfortable EV to drive around, while the zip of the electric motor means that it feels slightly quicker than those headline figures suggest. The controls are nicely weighted and there’s the option of one-pedal driving, too, so the regenerative braking works to slow the car down when you lift off the throttle. Because of this, you don’t really need to trouble the ‘regular’ brake until you need to bring the car to a complete stop.

The visibility all around is pretty good, too, while the square dimensions mean that the XC40 feels very easy to park and position. The raised seating position is quite confidence-inspiring, too,

As mentioned, most of the changes that have occurred to this new XC40 have done so underneath the car, so the exterior of it remains largely unaffected. It’s still a good-looking model – to our eyes at least – and incorporates the kind of pared-back design that we’ve come to expect from Volvo.

All cars get 19-inch alloy wheels as standard, too. Volvo also offers the C40, which is a more coupe-influenced version of the XC40. The pair share the same underpinnings, but the C40 delivers a slightly more eye-catching design. However, we still like the look of the ‘regular’ XC40.

One of the things that hits you first off with the interior of the XC40 is how well-made it feels. There’s a real sense of solidity to be found here, with good materials used throughout. As mentioned, the wool interior of ‘our’ test car – finished in a pleasant blue shade – really added a more comfortable edge to the cabin, while also looking pretty good too.

Thanks to its boxy nature the XC40 delivers a good degree of headroom for its size while its 489-litre boot is acceptable in size, too. It’s considerably larger than the 340-litre boot you’ll get in the Mercedes EQA, too, which is one of the XC40’s key rivals.

The XC40 remains a very well-rounded electric car. With a smartly made interior and an attractive exterior design, it’s a compact SUV which feels fully in its stride. This slight revision has only helped to sweeten the deal by boosting range and efficiency, too, so it’s definitely a worthwhile update.

The market in which the XC40 sits is definitely a competitive one, but with these tweaks it’s still an electric car well worth checking out.

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