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VOLVO XC40 P8 RECHARGE LAUNCHED

XC40 P8 Recharge

Showcasing its full line-up of new energy vehicles for 2022, Volvo has laid out its roadmap to becoming a full-electric motoring brand by 2030. And the XC40 P8 Recharge is leading the way.

If there’s one thing Volvo does exceedingly well, it is to build highly progressive cars with desirable Swedish sophistication. Whether your choice lies in the more reasonably priced end of the scale with the XC40 or your automotive needs will only be satisfied by an XC60 or XC90, your purchase is guaranteed to be the envy of many.

The brand is not without its quirks, though, for as desirable as their products are, their appeal doesn’t always reflect in mainstream popularity, especially so as pre-owned vehicles. It is an inexplicable anomaly as far as I am concerned, as Volvo products are equally desirable, equally technologically advanced, and in some respects even more exclusive than the brand’s German rivals.

Volvo has now also joined the ranks of the still exclusive EV club locally, with the introduction of their XC40 P8 Recharge all-electric SUV, and we had the opportunity to sample the drive in Sandton last month. Along with the official drive introduction of the P8, the brand also showed its refreshed range of electrified or semi-electrified cars and gave us a taste of their all-electric strategy.

GOING ALL-ELECTRIC

It is settled policy that Volvo is committed to an all-electric future. At the media unveiling of the XC40 P8 Recharge, the South African operation again confirmed this commitment to the local media. 

The company’s first all-electric model for South Africa is powered by dual high-voltage motors (one per axle), fed by a 78 kWh battery via a 400-volt electrical system. Good for 300 kW and 660 Nm of torque (available from standstill), the system easily outguns the rival Mercedes-Benz EQA 250 (66.5 kWh battery delivering 140 kW and 370 Nm), which is set to launch in July or August 2022. 

The P8 is not the only EV model destined for local introduction either. Later in the year, it will be joined by two additional cars, one being the all-electric C40 Recharge also built on the XC40 platform, but features a sleeker roofline that the MD of Volvo South Africa, Greg Maruszewsky, describes as an “XC40 Sportback”. 

TECH GALORE

Although the driving opportunity in the P8 was limited, the drive highlighted several aspects of the car that I liked and some that got me less excited.

The P8’s best attributes are its inherent ‘Volvo-ness’, power delivery, and superb interior, where high-quality yet sustainably produced materials place the XC40 firmly in the premium class. The interior layout is familiar territory, with almost no differences between the P8 and other XC40 models. Volvo has, however, brought significant updates to the infotainment operating system, making it easier to navigate and significantly more user friendly. The excising of Apple CarPlay from the now Google Assistant-controlled system is a little perplexing, but the functionality is otherwise good, and the sound system is pure class. 

In proper Volvo form, the automaker’s first EV is crammed full of standard safety equipment, including various driver assistance features, and shares its five-star Euro NCAP rating with its combustion-engined siblings.

According to Volvo, the P8 can travel up to 418 km on a single charge, with 80% of its battery capacity replenished in as little as 40 minutes when using a fast charger. To achieve that kind of range in the real world would take cautious driving and considerate power usage under all circumstances. In other words, it will be tough. That said, we comfortably managed an average of 20 kWh consumption during the test drive, which (if my maths is sound) is frugal enough to see the P8 realistically, and consistently maintain a 380 km range.

A feature found on most EVs is the ability to drive in single-pedal mode (in the XC40, it is activated via the onboard computer), allowing you to accelerate and slow down using only the throttle. This is particularly effective when driving the P8 with the ‘gearbox’ set to B-mode for extreme energy recuperation. Although it takes some getting used to, it is an amazingly intuitive feature that works well for city driving once you have it figured out.

With power directed to all four wheels, the XC40 P8 Recharge will comfortably sprint to 100 km/h from standstill in 4.9 seconds – blistering performance for a sports car, let alone a compact SUV. 

MORE FROM VOLVO

The Swedish carmaker used the launch event to officially introduce a variety of additional plug-ins and mild hybrids. 

At the top of the pile, the most potent XC90 ever – the T8 plug-in hybrid – now boasts a meatier rear electric motor that delivers 107 kW of power. Combined with 233 kW from the 2.0-litre turbocharged internal combustion engine, the 340 kW power output and the 709 Nm of torque from the two powertrains take the XC90 to a new level of power. The new e-motor also improves all-wheel-drive capability. A new long-range battery featuring a third layer of cells increases nominal power output from 11.6 kWh to 18.8 kWh, enhancing the car’s all-electric range to 77 km.

Except for the petrol-powered range of XC40 T cars, all vehicles in the Volvo line-up for 2022 feature some form of hybridisation or are full-electric, including the mild-hybrid XC60, S90, and V90 Cross Country B5 and B6 cars. Of these, the facelifted XC60 B6 and XC90 B6 are scheduled for further testing in upcoming editions of Driven.

LAST WORD

At a cool R1.2 million, an XC40 may not be an intuitive buy for most. Still, it is a brilliant introduction to alternative energy motoring from a brand with a strong history of resilience and innovation. Indicative of this, Volvo includes a wall-mounted home charger in the purchase price, along with three years’ worth of comprehensive vehicle insurance, as well as access to a petrol-powered XC40 for a total of two weeks during the lifetime of your XC40 P8 Recharge, should you want to take an extended trip and don’t want to be bothered by range anxiety.

Report by BERNIE HELLBERG JR | Images © VOLVO SOUTH AFRICA

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