Volvo takes it to the next level with the all-electric XC40 crossover

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Who would have thought that the Swedes would be so late at 100% electric? Considering Volvo’s innovation over the past decade, it’s surprising that this is their first fully electric model on the market. While the brand embraced plug-in hybrid technology early on, it was slow to ditch the combustion engine altogether.

Some may quibble that its electric sub-brand Polestar introduced an all-electric model in 2019, but it is only on sale in a very limited number of markets and tries to emphasize that it is ‘a separate brand from Volvo.

Whatever the nuances of this debate, the decision to go for the XC40 as the entry point for the Volvo brand makes sense. Crossovers are where the market is these days and this award-winning model – winner of the European Car of the Year title in 2018 – is its bestseller in many markets. This chic Swede deserved the first electrical surge.

It also scores on a number of other fronts, especially in terms of performance. This all-electric all-wheel-drive XC40 produces an impressive 408 horsepower and reaches 0-100 km / h in just 4.9 seconds. That’s remarkably quick for a midsize family crossover, and it feels just as quick on the road. For those who care, it’s faster than the new Ford Mustang Mach-E.

Agile

He is also surprisingly agile. Even if he is hoisted on high crossed heels, he can hold his line in the turns. There are times when comfortable driving feels a little too numb, disengaged from the road surface, but overall this car manages to combine comfort and performance better than any fast Volvo I’ve driven. nowadays.

This idea of ​​a fast family Volvo matches the brand’s efforts in the past. Some might remember the 850R station wagons from the 1990’s touring car championships. The problem was, most of them had a horribly harsh ride quality, better suited to the race track than the average road. . With this electric XC40, they kind of made the right mix.

The Volvo XC40 is equipped with a new infotainment system.

Another trait of fast Volvos in the past was the ability to retain their practicality, and the XC40 delivers on that front as well. This is not surprising, as it is one of the key traits that has won him so much praise to date. As we know from Ikea, the Swedes manage storage quite well.

And of course, it’s packed with comfort features and gadgets. In addition to the usual array of safety tech, you also get a nine-inch touchscreen control screen in the center console. However, Volvo has also made a deal with Google to run its maps and voice recognition system in the car. It is sometimes intuitive, but often frustrating.

In terms of economy, we seemed to manage to achieve near the official WLTP range of 400 km with the 78 kWh battery. This has become more and more common as batteries begin to deliver on their promises, or perhaps gain a more realistic understanding of everyday driving styles. On a 7-11kW wallbox, a full charge will take about eight hours.

When it comes to electric cars, the problem for many automakers remains the batteries, in terms of size and cost. Lithium-ion packs are still relatively large, so if you want a range between charges of around 400 km, that means significant weight and size. And the cost. The crucial number to watch when it comes to batteries is the kilowatt hour (kWh). Simply put, the more kWh your battery pack contains, the greater the range.

Battery costs

The problem is, for years the cost of this battery was outrageous. At a time when automakers’ bean counters were cutting back on flexible plastics to save € 10 per car, battery bills in 2010 were over $ 1,100 (€ 930) per kWh. This is largely why the initial electric cars had such low range: to keep the price affordable, the battery size had to be limited.

The good news is that over the past decade, battery prices have fallen dramatically, by as much as 89% according to Bloomberg’s 2020 Battery Price Survey. batteries would be close to $ 100 / kWh by 2023. Meanwhile, new cathode chemistries are pushing prices further down.

Which is a long way of saying that for the high-end car buyer, the age of relatively affordable electric cars is near or here, depending on your budget.

Starting at € 64,314, the all-electric XC40 doesn’t come cheap, fetching almost € 12,000 more than the plug-in hybrid version of the same car, although you obviously don’t have the same performance.

For a model range that starts at € 41,250, the all-electric walk-in price is steep. Its price of over € 60,000 is in the same range as the larger XC60 and some buyers may look at this and wonder if it is better to wait.

On a 7-11kW wallbox, a full charge will take about eight hours.

On a 7-11kW wallbox, a full charge will take about eight hours.

For those who want to take the plunge, this Volvo is an excellent argument for electric power and has a slight lead in the market over rivals such as the Ford Mustang Mach-E and the BMW iX3, while a date Irish arrival for the Tesla model The Y crossover is yet to be confirmed.

There are several other worthy rivals that are cheaper and just as convenient, including the trio of Audi Q4, Skoda Enyaq, and VW ID.4, but again, they don’t match the Volvo for pace.

For years the Swedes have tried to find the recipe for practicality and performance, but it never really worked. It seems they have now found the missing ingredient: electricity.

Update: Volvo XC40 Charging Fully Electric All-Wheel Drive

Power: Two electric motors (front and rear) with a combined output of 408 hp, powered by a 78 kWh lithium-ion battery

0-100km / h: 4.9 seconds

Automobile tax: € 120

Scope (WLTP): 418km

Price: € 68,258 in test (XC40 Recharge starts at € 64,314)

Our rating: 3/5

Verdict: Smart premium styling with premium performance


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