Posh Panache Meets Electric Elegance. The Volvo XC40 Recharge Drive Experience

The EV market in India has been growing, slowly but surely, but the growth isn’t streamlined by any means. We aren’t at the level yet where you have an EV alternative in every segment, and offerings have been either focussed on extreme affordability and making the EV lifestyle as accessible as possible, or on extreme exclusivity. There’s been a dearth of EV offerings in the entry level luxury segment, and Volvo stepped in to fill the void with its first EV offering in the Indian market. The XC40 Recharge. Based on the brand’s ICE powered XC40 and launched in the Indian market last year, the XC40 Recharge has now completely replaced its petrol powered sibling. The XC40 Recharge is not just another vehicle for the brand; it represents a holistic approach to reducing the environmental impact of transportation, aligning with Volvo’s ambitious goal of becoming a fully electric car brand by 2030. The move to electric fits in well with the ethos of Volvo, and the XC40 Recharge is the first concrete step in the direction. 

But with a few more EV offerings available in the entry and mid-level luxury segment now, including its own sibling the C40 Recharge, where exactly does the XC40 Recharge stand? We spent a week with Volvo’s first EV offering to find out. 

The exterior design of the XC40 Recharge is almost identical to its ICE sibling, the XC40, which is to say it is a study in sophisticated aesthetics and clean lines. We’ve always been huge fans of the XC40’s square stance and uncomplicated silhouette, which exude a sense of modernity while creating an overall design that is balanced and refined. The iconic Thor’s Hammer LED headlights, which have become a signature Volvo design element, seamlessly integrate with the closed off grille, which, along with a slightly redesigned front bumper, is one of the only differentiators between the XC40 Recharge and its ICE counterpart. The closed off grille does lend the Recharge a meaner-looking front fascia than the regular XC40. Down the side, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between the EV and the ICE models, which is great because the XC40 has always had a strong and balanced profile. The body lines look great when the light hits them just right, and the addition of larger 19″ wheels adds a considerable bit of flair. At the rear, the XC40 Recharge keeps things clean and minimal as usual, and a subtle boot-lid spoiler adds a bit of drama to an otherwise simple rear end. Overall, the XC40 Recharge is unmistakably a Volvo, with a perfect blend of form and function that continues to turn heads on Indian roads, although the gorgeous Sage Green colour way on our test car had a part to play in that as well.

Step inside the XC40 Recharge, and you are welcomed by a cabin that seamlessly merges luxury and sanctuary, combining opulence with functionality. The interior layout is both ergonomic and visually appealing, with a minimalist dashboard hosting Volvo’s familiar vertically oriented 9″ touchscreen infotainment system with built-in Google features. What’s notable in the XC40 Recharge’s cabin is the complete absence of any leather and wood, with Volvo instead choosing to use sustainably sourced and partially-recycled materials throughout the interior. The all black interior with white stitching strewn around creates a cozy environment, and the design highlight inside the XC40 Recharge has to be the incredibly unique, backlit topography-inspired translucent trim on the dashboard and the door panels, which creates a warm and soothing glow in the cabin. The overall design is highly reminiscent of the ICE XC40, and the Recharge has a comfortable and contemporary interior that is very easy to get used to. However, our fuss over the lack of tactile buttons still holds.

The ambience inside is further elevated with the panoramic sunroof, that floods the interior with natural light, and the digital instrument cluster, which features crips graphics and Google Maps integration. Other standout features include a built-in PM 2.5 filter, wireless charging, a 13-speaker 600W Harman Kardon audio system, connected car features and an automatic powered tailgate, although heated and ventilated seats are a notable omission at this price point. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is available as well, although we would’ve loved to see wireless connectivity to go with the wireless charger. We particularly love Volvo’s approach to keyless entry and start, and the complete removal of a starter button means you can get in, put the car in drive, and you’re good to go.

In terms of cabin space, the XC40 Recharge, like its sibling, is great at being a comfortable and accommodating family SUV. The electrically adjustable front seats provide enough support and bolstering, with an extendable section for under-thigh support on offer as well. The rear seats are spacious and comfortable, although the high floor causes passengers to sit in a bit of a knees-up position. The XC40 Recharge also puts practicality first, with ample storage in the front and the back and a useful removable trashcan in the front. As always, the attention to detail by the makers, and the addition of small user-friendly features make you feel that the car has been designed around your personal preferences, ultimately making the daily ownership experience more pleasant. 

The highlight of the package however, is what’s under the hood of the XC40 Recharge. Or rather, what’s under the floor. India gets only the XC40 Recharge Twin, which as the name implies, comes with two electric motors, one at each axle. Powering the twin motor is a 78kWh battery pack, and the XC40 Recharge puts 408 BHP and 660 Nm of torque – an astonishing amount of power for what is essentially a compact family SUV. Claimed range for the XC40 Recharge on the WLTP test cycle is quoted at a reasonable 418 kms, and although it’s by no means the strongest in terms of efficiency, we found the XC40 Recharge to consistently get a real world range closer to its claimed range. Which isn’t the case with most other EVs. On a full charge, the range shown in the instrument cluster was 410 kms, and we managed to get upward of 370 kms in the real world. Volvo also claims that the XC40 Recharge can charge from 10-80% on 28 mins on a 150Kw charger, although we could only get our hands on a 60Kw charger, which charged the car from 10-90% in approximately 2 hours. 

The power figures are so strong that the XC40 Recharge provides the highest price-to-power ratio of any car on sale in the country today. The power is instant, addictive, and slightly unnerving, and the XC40 Recharge has the ability to surprise the uninitiated. The car accelerates from 0-100 km/h in a sports car-level 4.9 seconds, and the instant power delivery combined with the utter lack of noise can have a nauseating, stomach-churning effect on passengers. We found ourselves constantly flooring the accelerator just to experience the uncompromising surge that comes with it, and while our antics did reduce the range slightly, it’s hard not to give in to the XC40 Recharge’s immense power. There’s ample power for most buyers, and we particularly applaud Volvo for making this level of performance, paired with unwavering safety, more accessible to Indian buyers.

But straight line performance isn’t the only trick up its sleeve. The XC40 Recharge reacts in typical Volvo fashion when thrown around a corner. You can definitely feel the added weight; at nearly 2.2 tonnes, it’s about 400 kgs heavier than its ICE sibling. But despite the added weight, the XC40 Recharge actually handles better than any other Volvo we’ve driven. The lower centre of gravity thanks to the floor-mounted battery, combined with the stiffer suspension Volvo has fitted to cope with the weight gain, gives the XC40 Recharge a tighter feel around sharp bends, and lends the car a level of confidence and control that is almost unlike Volvo’s other offerings. Lack of drive modes does mean that the XC40 has a singular personality, but you can always make the steering feel firm to add a bit more feedback and weight. The addition of the all-wheel drive system also aids in grip and stability while exiting corners, and while the XC40 Recharge has hardly been built to please the performance enthusiast, it somehow manages to leave you with a huge grin on your face.

What’s even more commendable is the XC40 Recharge’s ride quality and suspension damping, which left us mesmerised by its ability to soak up all but the harshest irregularities above a certain speed. The stiffer suspension does feel a bit fidgety while driving over bumps at slow speeds, but as you speed up, the XC40 Recharge simply absorbs everything thrown its way. The car feels incredibly planted at high speeds with an air-suspension like comfort, which further adds to the car’s ability to be a mile-munching family car. The XC40 Recharge definitely feels most at home as an urban runabout, although the flip side of its personality is always a tap of the right foot away.

The Volvo XC40 Recharge, when launched, was a groundbreaking addition to the Indian automotive landscape. And more than a year on, Volvo’s first step in the EV market in India has proved to be a strong and calculated move, cementing the brand’s adherence to its core values of safety, luxury, and sustainability. Volvo’s have always had an element of personality that has made them stand out from the crowd, and the addition of electric drivetrains in their offerings suits that personality just right. With hardly any compromise, Volvo has managed to embody its historic ethos into a modern and practical offering which sets new standards for its competitors, not only in terms of environmental responsibility but also in delivering a package that combines spectacular performance, meticulous attention to detail, and excellent value for its class. The XC40 Recharge is more than just a car; it’s a statement of Volvo’s vision for the future of mobility in India—one that is sustainable, luxurious, and undeniably impressive in its performance. And with the recent introduction of the C40 Recharge – the XC40’s more fashionable sibling – Volvo is continuing to build on this vision. 

If you ask us, as a progressive and practical daily drive for a small family, that checks all the boxes, the XC40 Recharge makes up one-half of a dream urban garage. At an ex-showroom price of INR 56.90 lacs, Volvo XC40 Recharge is a car that’s hard to ignore if you’re in the market for a luxury electric. Whether you’re making your first foray into the luxury segment, or looking to experiment with an EV for your next purchase, the XC40 Recharge might just be right for you in many ways.

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