French favorite Volvo, the only car from the Swedish brand to win Car of the Year (in 2018), will soon celebrate its sixth anniversary. After a complicated 2022, with sales down by 15.5%, the XC40 compact SUV has regained its color since the arrival of the revised and corrected electric versions. Over nine months, XC40 registrations increased by 14% thanks to electrification, an increase of 72%. It must be said that Volvo has rolled up its sleeves to introduce its first new SUV with electric power, starting with increased autonomy.
To this end, the extended range version, being tested here, benefits from a new battery with improved density, which in the same size offers increased capacity to 82 kWh (previously 78 kWh in the Recharge Twin variant). In addition, the XC40 benefits from an all-new electrical unit. Developed and manufactured by Volvo, this permanent magnet synchronous motor offers increased efficiency while being more powerful. Faced with excess torque (420 Nm instead of 330), the engineers decided to install this mass between the rear wheels… whereas the previous two-wheel drive XC40 Recharge was front-wheel drive! To make this radical change, the Swedish manufacturer did not need to change everything, because its SUV already exists in a 4×4 version with an electric unit at the rear. For your information, this SUV became Volvo’s first four-wheel drive car since the discontinuation of the 940 model at the dawn of the first decade of the twenty-first century.
Improve motor skills
At the wheel, compared to the previous electric XC40, whose front wheels had great difficulty transferring power to the ground, The extended range displays excellent traction when the road is dry. Thanks to the greater weight – 1,025 kg from 2,011 kg measured on the rear axle – the rear drive wheels allow you to get under way easily and without affecting any torque on the steering. On the other hand, you have to be careful when grip is low, because involuntary slips cannot be ruled out before the driving assistance systems intervene.
In all cases, The effectiveness of Volvo’s new tow chain is proven by our rigorous measuring session in Montlhéry. Compared to the old front-wheel drive system with a 69 kWh battery, our model equipped with an 82 kWh battery goes much further. We measured just 572 km in the city (instead of 419 km), or 36% better. On the road, the battery lasts 371 km (compared to 332), while on the highway it gains about 70 km (previously 234). The distances put this XC40 among the good students in this class. The 303 km recorded on the highway makes it possible to imagine stages of 250 km in length, knowing that Volvo accepts a maximum power of 200 kW on the highway stations.. These gains are due not only to increased battery capacity, but also to decreased appetite in general, with the XC40 consuming 15.6 kWh in the city (compared to 17.7 kWh before) and 29.4 kWh on the highway (instead of 31.6 Kilowatt per hour). On the other hand, curiously, appetite increases on our road cycle (24 kWh compared to 22.3).
By mounting its engine at the rear, the XC40 gains neither turning diameter (11.40 meters between curbs) nor sportiness. Its 252 hp (+ 13 hp) gives it the GTi’s boost, but that’s not enough to make driving fun.. Manufactured in Ghent, Belgium, the Swedish car remains a reassuring SUV that feels heavy despite its small size. Depending on your taste or mood, you have the choice between several renewal modes: none, automatic. (not very sensitive) or single pedal, which allows you to drive without practically touching the brake pedal. It’s practical, but passengers won’t necessarily like this bumpier ride if you don’t carefully manage to lift your foot off the throttle. Otherwise, sound insulation and suspension comfort – despite a slight firmness at low speed – are appreciated.
Behind the appropriate, but less harsh, finishes than its bigger brothers, and a multimedia system that’s not the most practical, the XC40 doesn’t forget to offer excellent seating and plenty of storage space up front. Thanks to its length of 4.44 metres, Volvo offers a spacious interior, especially at the back, where, if you regret the slightly short seats, tall people have room to stretch their legs. On the trunk side, the XC40 offers 320 dm3 measured under the shelf, an average value when the slightly longer BMW iX1 (4.50 metres) offers 380 dm3.
This does not prevent the Volvo SUV from making arguments against its Bavarian rival. The Recharge Extended Range model therefore starts at €51,410 when the BMW iX1 xDrive30 costs no less than €57,150 with a 66.5 kWh battery. The German is more efficient thanks to its 313 horsepower and offers all-wheel drive. But when it comes to comfort and autonomy, the Swede is far superior: if the iX1 lasts 342 kilometers in the city, which is an honorable figure, we are far from the 572 kilometers possible with the XC40. On electricity, this is important.
Compare the real-world ranges of the best electric cars according to our standardized measurement cycle. Battery capacity, consumption, autonomy, we tell you everything!