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Twin Wins From The Volvo XC40 Recharge Electric Lineup

Volvo’s commitment to electrification has been commendable, and the Swedish brand’s entry-level XC40 Recharge series stands as a testament to their vision for a fully-electric product range. The XC40 Recharge Twin Motor variant has proved to be a successful first foray for Volvo in the Indian luxury EV segment, and the recent addition of the Volvo XC40 Recharge Plus marks an exciting addition to the brand’s India lineup. Promising a slightly more accessible entry point into the world of Volvo’s electric offerings, the Plus variant shares much of its DNA with the more expensive Twin Motor variant, with the key differences lying in the two cars’ powertrain and driving dynamics. The Plus variant undercuts the Twin Motor by about INR 3.0 lacs, but is the marginally reduced price point enough to sway buyers away from the fantastic XC40 Recharge Twin Motor variant? We spent a couple of weeks with both the XC40 Recharge variants, to find out.

When it comes to exterior design, both the XC40 Recharge Plus and Twin Motor are virtually indistinguishable, with the only difference being the absence of the “Twin” badging on the bootlid of the twin motor variant. Volvo’s signature Scandinavian design language is evident, with clean lines, a bold front grille, and the iconic Thor’s Hammer LED headlights giving both variants a distinctive and modern look. The compact SUV’s proportions are well-balanced, and we’ve always been particular fans of the XC40’s butch, square stance, which lends it an undeniable street presence and makes it stand out amongst the crowd of luxury cars on Indian roads. The crisp body lines look fantastic when the light hits them just right, and subtly stunning colours like Cloud Blue and Sage Green add to the overall flair of the design. The XC40 Recharge Plus, like its Twin Motor sibling, features subtle but meaningful design elements that emphasise its electric nature. The absence of exhaust pipes, aerodynamic alloy wheel designs, and a slightly different front grille set it apart from its internal combustion engine counterparts. 

The similarities are carried forward into the interior as well, with the two variants sporting a virtually identical cabin design. What this means is that you can blindly choose either the XC40 Recharge Plus or Twin Motor and expect to be greeted by an interior that exudes luxury and practicality in equal measure. Volvo has long been known for its attention to detail, high-quality materials, and passenger comfort, and these electric SUVs are no exception. The minimalist dashboard, dominated by the large vertically-oriented 9″ touchscreen found in several Volvo offerings, seamlessly integrates with the digital driver’s display, offering a clutter-free and intuitive user experience. As usual, Volvo’s system comes with Google features built-in, including Google Maps and Google Assistant. We continue to admire how Volvo has integrated Google Maps into its digital instrument cluster – a feature we would like to see implemented in more premium cars. Other features include a massive panoramic sunroof that floods the interior with tonnes of natural light, a built-in PM 2.5 filter, wireless charging, an automatic powered tailgate, and a host of ADAS features including emergency braking and lane-keep assist. However, the slightly more affordable Plus variant misses out on some key features, including the much-loved Harman Kardon sound system, adjustable Pixel-LED headlamps, and a 360 degree camera, apart from the heated/ventilated seats and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto that have already been notable omissions in the XC40 Recharge range. 

As is the case with the XC40 Recharge Twin Motor, the Plus variant sports a cabin that is completely devoid of any leather and wood, with Volvo instead choosing to use sustainably sourced and partially-recycled materials throughout the interior. The Plus variant follows the Twin Motor in opting for an all-black cabin with contrasting white stitching, which gives it an ultra premium sporty appeal. The highlight of the interior continues to be the unique, backlit, topography-inspired translucent trim on the dashboard and the door panels, which creates a warm and soothing glow in the cabin and manages to impress everyone who sets eyes on it for the first time. In terms of comfort, the XC40 Recharge offers a spacious cabin with ample legroom and headroom for both front and rear passengers. The front seats are ergonomically designed and provide considerable adjustability, providing excellent support for long journeys. The back seats themselves are adequately spacious and comfortable too, although the high floor causes passengers to sit in a bit of a knees-up position. However, both variants of the XC40 Recharge feature ample storage across the cabin, with generous door bins, a sizeable glove compartment, and a practical centre console with an integrated, removable trash compartment. 

While the XC40 Recharge Twin Motor and Plus variants may seem identical, the real differences between the two become apparent when you put your foot down. While the Twin Motor, as the name suggest, boasts a dual electric motor setup and all-wheel drive capability, the Plus makes do with a single electric motor on its rear axle, making it a purely rear-wheel drive SUV. The difference in the power figures coming out of the respective cars’ electric motors is drastic as well; while the Twin Motor delivers a combined output of 408 bhp and a staggering 660 Nm of torque, the Plus provides a much tamer 238 bhp and 420 Nm of torque, resulting in a 0 to 100 km/h acceleration in 7.3 seconds, compared to the Twin Motor’s sport car-rivalling 4.9 seconds. 

Don’t get us wrong, the XC40 Recharge Plus is more than enough car for most buyers in the segment, and provides a similar driving feel to other, similarly priced, ICE-powered SUVs. While the Twin Motor’s remarkable 408 bhp gives it a manic edge, the Plus takes a softer approach with its smooth and linear power delivery. Instead of the nose-lifting launch of the Twin Motor, you’re greeted with a refined increase in speed that more closely matches the relaxing and calm demeanour of the car. While we found ourselves missing the instant surge of the Twin Motor, the Plus variant ensures that you are rarely left wanting for more, and the feeling continues as you rise to triple digit speeds. However, put your foot down when you’re cruising at high speeds, and the difference in power becomes a little more apparent, although this is something few buyers would be concerned about.

Driving dynamics are another area where the differences between the two variants become most pronounced. The XC40 Recharge Plus, with its rear-wheel drive configuration, offers a more agile and light-on-its-feet driving experience when compared to the Twin Motor. The smaller battery size and exclusively rear-drive setup means that the Plus is down on weight compared to the Twin Motor variant, which translates into a slightly more nimble and quick-footed driving experience. The car feels lighter when thrown into corners, and the steering feels a touch more direct than its heavier all wheel drive sibling. While Twin Motor’s all-wheel drive system offers an added sense of surefootedness and confidence, particularly in trickier weather conditions or on looser surfaces, the Plus feels more nimble and manageable, thanks to the tamer power figures and lower weight. 

Out in the city, which is where most owners would drive their XC40 Recharge, the Plus provides a toned down and chilled out demeanour, with a light steering that makes manoeuvring in tight spaces a breeze. The light steering is a Twin Motor characteristic as well, although its almost savage throttle response makes it a bit more fidgety to drive in the city. The compact size of the XC40 Recharge helps as well, and its by far and away one of the favourite urban runabouts that you can buy. In terms of ride quality, the Twin Motor variant trumps the single motor Plus version, as the lighter weight and rear wheel drive setup makes the suspension feel less pliant and more bouncy, especially over speed humps. The ride does become smoother as you reach higher speeds, but the Twin Motor variant provides a confident ride quality that just doesn’t feel the same in the Plus variant.

In terms of range, the two XC40 Recharge models are closer than one might expect. The Plus variant’s 69kWh battery pack translates to a WLTP range of 475 kms, while the Twin Motor, with its larger 78kWh battery pack, provides a WLTP range of 505 kms on a single charge. In reality, we found that the Plus’ indicated range, at various charge levels, claimed to be upwards of 470 kms, and during our testing we got a real wold range of upwards of 440 kms on a single charge with little to no fuss.

Priced at INR 54.95 lacs, the XC40 Recharge Plus undercuts the Twin Motor version by about INR 3.0 lacs, which is priced at INR 57.90 lacs. What’s clear is that the Plus is not just positioned as a more affordable alternative to the Twin Motor variant, but also as a sedate and sensible option for buyers unconcerned with astronomical power and driving dynamics. For such buyers, the Plus might be a more sensible option, although we doubt they’ll choose it over the Twin Motor for the meagre price difference. 

However, for everyone else in the market for a smart, efficient and stylish SUV, the XC40 Recharge’s Twin Motor variant is the OG. For a small bump in price of INR 3.0 lacs, the Twin manages to provide a level of exhilaration seldom seen in this segment, or the next, for that matter. While the Plus is an extremely capable car in its own right, its more powerful Twin Motor sibling seems to be its biggest problem. For those who value performance and flexing rights, the XC40 Recharge Twin Motor is the clear winner. The additional investment is well worth it for the extra power, superior traction, and engaging driving dynamics. In the end, while the XC40 Recharge Plus is a commendable addition to Volvo’s electric lineup, the Twin Motor variant remains the pinnacle of what the XC40 Recharge has to offer. If the price difference was substantial, the Plus variant would have been a compelling choice from a value perspective.

If one were to choose between the two, the Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin Motor remains the clear winner. Sure, you can save a bit of money and opt for the Plus variant, but there will come a day when you find yourself next to a Twin Motor XC40 Recharge at a stoplight. And when the lights turn green, more likely than not, that’s when you’ll wish you had chosen the Twin Motor.

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