Shropshire Star

First Drive: 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 XC40 Recharge

What is it?

Volvo XC40 Recharge
Though it’s now rear-wheel-drive, the XC40 still feels very secure to drive

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.

What’s new?

Volvo XC40 Recharge
Nimble handling makes the XC40 feel light to drive

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.

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.

What’s under the bonnet?

Volvo XC40 Recharge
The XC40’s relatively compact proportions make it easy to drive

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.

What’s it like to drive?

Volvo XC40 Recharge
A longer range means the XC40 can go further 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,

How does it look?

Volvo XC40 Recharge
The XC40 feels great to drive around town

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.

What’s it like inside?

Volvo XC40 Recharge
The XC40’s cabin is well executed and smartly made

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.

What’s the spec like?

Volvo XC40 Recharge
There’s a small ‘frunk’ in the nose for storing the cables

Prices for the XC40 Recharged start from £46,505 in ‘Core’ specification. At this level, you do get plenty of standard equipment such as automatic LED headlights, two-zone automatic climate control and a nine-inch infotainment setup which uses Android Automotive, so it’s very easy to install apps and features. The display itself is very logically laid out and the icons are clear and easy to read.

Opt for a top-spec twin-motor version and you’ll see that price spike to £61,855. At this point, the electric XC40 begins to look quite expensive, though the dual-motor versions do break past the all-important 300 miles of range barrier. If you opted for a twin-motor version in entry-level ‘Core’ specification, however, the price comes in at a more acceptable £51,755.


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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