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MINIMAL MARVEL

VOLVO EX30 ULTRA TWIN MOTOR PERFORMANCE

There was a time when Volvo was almost exclusively known for being safe. Most Volvos were boxy, sturdy, reliable, and sensible. Those times are gone now, as, for years, Volvo has been working to become a premium brand, even hiring Bentley’s interior design head a decade ago. 

This shift has increased their prices and customers’ average age. Enter the Volvo EX30, Volvo’s bid to attract younger drivers with an affordable yet stylish electric option, blending Swedish design, Google tech, and Chinese EV expertise from parent company Geely. The EX30 is crucial for Volvo as cheaper Chinese EV brands, including those from Volvo’s stablemates, are becoming strong competitors.

CHOOSE YOUR BATTERY

The city-friendly EX30 offers three powertrain options and two battery types. There’s a single-motor version with a cheaper LFP battery offering around 345 km per charge for short trips. There’s a single-motor extended-range version for longer trips with a faster-charging NMC battery, providing about 480 km. The top model Ultra Twin Motor Performance, and our tester, boasts two electric motors and an all-wheel-drive NMC battery setup, delivering 315 kW and 543 Nm of torque, a blistering zero to 100 km/h time of 3.6 seconds, and a claimed 450 km range.

MINIMAL MARVEL

The EX30 is Volvo’s smallest SUV at 4,233 mm long, and is shorter, slimmer, and lower than the XC40. The minimalist cabin uses recycled and renewable materials like woven flax, upcycled denim, ground plastic waste, recycled polyester, and carpet from PET bottles.

The door handles are particularly impressive, made of solid metal loops that give a premium feel. However, some interior plastics feel cheap. Much like a Tesla, the EX30’s touchscreen controls nearly everything, replacing the instrument cluster. Volvo’s Google-powered UI is excellent, but the lack of physical buttons is frustrating. Adjusting wing mirrors and window controls involves too many screen interactions, which is less user-friendly than its minimalist nature suggests.

The Harman Kardon soundbar across the dash eliminates the need for door speakers and offers good sound quality despite noticeable wind noise above 120 km/h. 

ON THE ROAD

Driving the EX30 is enjoyable and predictable, with enough power for safe overtaking. It handles well in turns but has some body roll. The damping, though it soaks up road imperfections with aplomb, lacks a solid connection to the road at high speeds, and the brakes need more bite. 

It is also worth noting that, despite many safety features and its relatively planted feel overall, the EX30 doesn’t quite feel suited for aggressive driving or testing its 3.6-second acceleration, which calls into question the need for such significant acceleration credentials. Efficiency-wise, it achieved 3.8 m/kWh in mixed driving conditions.

LAST WORD

Volvo has smartly managed cost-cutting with the EX30, maintaining a premium feel. It looks and feels like a Volvo, and at its price point, it should attract younger buyers. However, it’s not ideal for families due to its size, or driving enthusiasts due to handling quirks and almost too quick performance. Despite this, the EX30 is a promising EV option that should help Volvo maintain its leading EV status in South Africa while competing on price and drawing in a younger crowd.

Report by BERNIE HELLBERG JR | Images © VOLVO SOUTH AFRICA

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