Volvo EX30 first drive | Impressive package, incredible price

Volvo EX30 first drive |  Impressive package, incredible price

The EX30 is a very important car for Volvo to break into a new market and sets a new standard for premium car brands as an affordable, luxury, long-range electric car. As a company car, it’s very hard to overlook.

summary

Volvo has enjoyed great success with its current lineup. Led by the XC90, which was launched eight years ago, the brand’s Russian doll approach to design has delivered a desirable range of SUVs that are practical, efficient and luxurious.

The EX30 breaks the mold with a new, futuristic look that links it to the larger EX90, a minimalist interior and an all-new electric platform.

Using Geely’s SEA platform as a base, the EX30 is technically tied with the Smart #1. While both cars are based on the same underpinnings, Volvo has designed a new body, interior and chassis calibration in its own way.

The range consists of three engines and two trim levels. More variants of the EX30 are expected to join the range at a later date, including a more powerful Cross Country variant.

Comfort and practicality

The EX30 is Volvo’s smallest car, sandwiched between hatchback models like the VW ID3 and compact crossovers like the Hyundai Kona. This means it’s not as spacious as the modern Volvos we’re used to, but there’s plenty of room in the places you need it.

Volvo has opted for an ultra-minimalist dashboard in the EX30. There’s not really much other than the screen and some air vents. It’s a clever design that incorporates a variety of materials and textures, depending on the model, to create a surprisingly premium feel.

The center console has been cleverly thought out. There’s an armrest between the two front seats that includes some power window switches and a pair of pop-up cupholders that peek out from below. In the space below, a rubber-lined tray can be used for additional storage for larger items, while a pair of smartphone charging pads sit below the main display.

There are no controls on the doors, just some cheap-feeling recycled plastic contrasted with some nicely sculpted metal handles.

Volvo EX30 door handles

Front seat passengers enjoy ample space and very comfortable seats. In the back, it’s a little more cramped, although you probably wouldn’t choose the EX30 if you regularly had to carry five adults.

The boot space is on par with other hatchbacks, at 318 litres. There’s also a small storage compartment under the hood, which is a good place to store charging cables.

Once on the move, it becomes clear how precise the EX30 is. It’s quiet on the move, especially considering the price point. We’d have no complaints about taking short, long-distance trips in it.

Safety and technology

In true Volvo style, the EX30 was developed with safety as a primary factor. There are many driver assistance systems that use a combination of sensors and radars to help prevent collisions as well as technology to protect other road users.

However, the focus on safety is a bit at odds with Volvo’s new focus on technology. While previous Volvos have achieved a good balance between screens and physical controls, the EX30 takes things to a new level. Almost everything is integrated into the touch screen. Volvo has gone so far as to put the speedometer there, so there’s no independent driver display.

The infotainment system is impressive with its good design, quick responses and beautiful graphics, but it’s simply trying to do too much. Whether you’re using the sat nav and want to turn on your heated seat, or you’re about to back into a parking space and want to adjust the door mirror – it’s all simple. Volvo has divided part of the screen for shortcuts to certain functions, but there simply isn’t enough space for all the things you need. Even the volume control is adjusted via the screen. It’s a step too far.

Volvo EX30 cup holder

Some of the initiatives are very clever, particularly the electric seat adjustments which have been integrated into a single control box, and by not mounting speakers or switches in the doors, there is more space for storage and undoubtedly cost savings.

Volvo’s solution to audio is a dashboard-mounted “woofer”. It’s basically one of those speakers that you would have for your TV under the windshield. The cars we tested were equipped with the Harmon/Kardon setup, which fits as standard on the Plus and Ultimate trims (Volvo hasn’t detailed an entry-level model yet). Sound quality is good, although it takes some time to get used to having the sound coming directly to you, rather than being immersed in it.

Driving ability and range

Volvo offers three powertrain options with the EX30: Single Engine, Single Range Extended Engine, and Performance.

The base model uses a 49 kWh (usable) battery, offering a range of about 210 miles. The Extended Range uses a 64 kWh battery, boosting range to nearly 300 miles. Both cars use a 272-horsepower electric motor that drives the rear wheels.

The same 64-kilowatt-hour battery can be found in the Performance, though this time it sends power to a pair of electric motors that produce 428 horsepower.

Single-engine cars can accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in about five seconds, which is ridiculous for a small, cheap electric car. Performance is, frankly, insane, cutting the 0-62 mph sprint time by 3.6 seconds.

This means that the Volvo EX30 is the cheapest and fastest-accelerating Volvo.

Volvo EX30 badge

While power reserves are bulging at the seams, even in base trim, the EX30 is a very comfortable car to drive. It rides nimble and provides a smooth driving experience. It’s not a hot hatch, but it’s sharp enough to provide a reasonably enjoyable drive even after the novelty of the acceleration wears off.

During our tests, the single-engine vehicle recorded an efficiency of 3.5 mph, while performance was closer to 3.0 mph. In real-world conditions, we expect a range of about 230 miles from the Performance Car and 250 miles from the Extended Range, based on our early driving experience.

Company car tax and operating costs

Volvo has priced the EX30 very competitively. Compared to other electric cars of this size, it represents great value for money, especially when you consider the level of standard equipment.

The Single Motor Plus costs £33,795, which is roughly the same as a Vauxhall Corsa Electric, and it’s very likely that Volvo will offer a cheaper variant of the base model in the future. The extended range starts at £38,545, making it cheaper than the Astra Electric and slightly more than the cheapest VW ID3.

Additional models come loaded with equipment. There are heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, keyless entry, a Google-powered infotainment system, and a heat pump.

The Ultra adds a panoramic sunroof, a 360-degree camera system, a 22-kW onboard charger, and electrically adjustable seats.

Volvo EX30 light

All versions come with a comprehensive three-year service and maintenance plan that includes the replacement of consumables such as brake pads.

When it comes to running costs, the EX30 offers another outstanding performance. The cheapest model costs 39p per mile, and our favourite, the Extended Range, comes in at 42ppm. Again, it undermines the similar derivatives of the Astra and ID3. Impressive considering the EX30 wears a premium badge.

Company car tax is charged at 2% of the EX30’s list price, costing drivers between £11 and £15 per month, depending on which version they choose.

For full data on company car tax and running costs, click here.

Shipping times

(Extended range for single motor)

3-pin plug: 32 hours 45 minutes

7kW wall box: 10 hours and 15 minutes

11 kW AC: 7 hours

150W Fast: 30 minutes (10% to 80%)

For full real-world range and charging time data, click here.

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