Double Apex was recently presented with the opportunity to drive the Volvo XC40 P6 Recharge, a car that has eluded us since its introduction last year. We grabbed the opportunity to experience a Volvo EV for the very first time.
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Volvo has been a vocal proponent of electrification. The Swedish brand has stated that 50 per cent of Volvo Cars’ sales volume will consist of fully electric models by 2025.
Hakan Samuelsson, president and CEO of the Volvo Car Group: “We are determined to be the first premium car maker to move our entire portfolio of vehicles into electrification. This is a clear commitment towards reducing our carbon footprint, as well as contributing to better air quality in our cities.”
That’s a pretty ambitious statement. But it the automaker is following up on that promise. In the local context, every new Volvo sold since late 2022 features some form of electrification. Volvo’s first EV into the SA market was the top-of-the-range XC40 P8 Recharge. It was was followed by the subject of this review, called the P6.
The Volvo XC40 P6 Recharge is the entry point into a pure EV Volvo in SA. That is until the EX30 is introduced into our market. You can read more about that all-new model by clicking this link. The XC40 P6 is the ‘little’ brother to the P8 Recharge. The latter has twin motors, one per axle, while the subject of this test has a single motor.
Both versions are based on the existing XC40 platform. We have to admit up front that we are real fans of the XC40. The EV versions have the same basic appearance as their siblings. You can, however, tell them apart by the grille-less front and ‘recharge’ script on flanks and badges front and rear.
The P6 derivative is also fitted with blade-like 19-inch alloys which are really eye-catching. On the whole, we have to say that the XC40 range has aged particularly well. The lines are simple, yet it manages to be quietly confident and stylish.
Click here to read our twin review of the BMW iX3 and Mercedes-EQ EQB.
The simple, yet chic design aesthetic continues into the cabin. The XC40 basics have not changed. However, the upholstery is leather-free, adding to Volvo’s sustainability aims. Other highlights include funky backlit inlays on the facia and door cars that are reminiscent of a topographic map. We really appreciated the heated seats and heated steering wheel during a mid-winter cold snap.
One of the recent updates to the range regards the infotainment system that now features built-in Google services. This means that you have to have internet connectivity, either via a SIM card our through your mobile handset. There is massive storage space around the cabin, including those door bins that can accommodate a laptop, and seating for four adults in comfort.
As mentioned, the Volvo XC40 P6 Recharge is powered by a single motor. A single speed transmission connects this unit to the front wheels. Oddly, there is no ‘start/stop’ button to activate the drive system. Once you are inside the car with the key, you simply select ‘drive’ with the funky gear lever and you are ready to go. When your trip is over you press the ‘P’ button next to the lever simply jump out of the car. It takes some getting used, but once you are it makes the next car you drive seem overly complicated.
The single motor delivers 170 kW and 330 N.m. This endows it with spritely, if not neck-snapping performance. Volvo claims that the P6 takes about seven and half seconds to break the 100 km/h marker from standstill. The ‘in-gear’ or rolling acceleration subjectively feels more impressive. See a gap in traffic, nail the ‘loud’ pedal and voila you’re there.
The all-or-nothing brake regeneration takes a bit of getting used. The moment you left off the accelerator the car pulls up, there is no coasting. To counter the see-saw effect on the open road we took to using the adaptive cruise as much as possible. The ‘one-pedal driving’ system can be turned off, however, doing so means you lose a little bit of energy without recharging the battery pack. Speaking of…
The P6 has a 69 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. This power source can be charged using a regular wall socket (if you’re a motoring journalist) or from wall-mounted charge box if you happen to be the owner of a P6. Volvo claims that the P6 will travel (an oddly specific) 423 km on a full charge. We saw a more realistic range of 360 km, which included a long stint of motorway driving.
One moment, in particular, sticks with us from our time with the P6. We were caught in a torrential downpour and temps outside had plummeted. There was no noise from the drivetrain, all we heard were the swishing of the wipers and wheels rolling over wet tar. It was serene in the warm cabin, and how we imagine it feels to drive a Volvo in the depths of winter in its homeland.
The Volvo XC40 is a great example of a small SUV, we’ve thought that from day one. The EV version has taken the fundamentals that make the ICE versions so good, and elevated them even further. It strikes us that the XC40 in EV guise in the car that it should have been all along.
Model: Volvo XC40 P6 Recharge
Price: R1 075 000
Engine: single electric motor
Transmission: single-speed, FWD
Max power: 170 kW
Max torque: 330 N.m
0-100 km/h: 7,4 sec
Top speed: 160 km/h
Range: 423 km