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VOLVO XC40 P8 RECHARGE TWIN AWD ULTIMATE

LIGHTNING WITHOUT THE THUNDER |

Besides rivals Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz, Volvo is aggressively pursuing the electrification of its entire model line-up. Locally, the XC40 P6 Recharge and P8 Recharge lead the charge, with the XC40-derived coupé C40 Recharge coming later this year. We recently spent time with the current range-topping P8 Recharge Twin AWD Ultimate.

When Volvo Cars first presented the XC40 in 2017, it was a fresh, creative, and distinctive addition to the Volvo line-up. Today, it is an award-winning staple in the company’s portfolio and one of the car maker’s most consistent top sellers.

In South Africa, the range includes no fewer than 16 derivatives, with the twin-electric P8 Recharge and single-electric P6 Recharge at the top of the pile.

STILL FRESH DESIGN

To reinforce its cutting-edge design and modern statement, Volvo Cars designers endowed the XC40 line-up with a refresh early in 2022, including a new front bumper and a frameless grille plate to keep the all-electric XC40 Recharge models visually in sync with the upcoming C40 Recharge, aligning the two cars that symbolise Volvo Cars’ electrification journey.

Without the need for engine cooling, the P8 Recharge (and its lesser P6 sibling) have a curved plastic panel replacing the grille, with the only other visible differences from ICE-powered XC40 models being ‘Recharge’ insignia on the C-pillars and at the rear, as well as unique diamond-cut 19” wheels (larger alloys are optionally available).

In addition, the signature Thor’s Hammer headlights are adaptive LEDs, with state-of-the-art pixel LED light technology optionally available, enabling them to adapt automatically and avoid dazzling oncoming traffic.

SWEDISH MINIMALIST COMFORT

The XC40 has one of the most attractive and practical interiors in its class. The minimalistic layout and clean cabin lines are dominated by a large portrait-orientation central touchscreen with vehicle, driving and infotainment functions, as well as a reversing camera. All functions in the Google-enabled cabin with onboard Wi-Fi can be voice-activated, and the embedded Plugshare app tells you which charging stations are functional and online.

Belying its compact lines, the XC40 is roomy inside with more legroom and boot space than most other compact SUVs, and its electronic tailgate opens remotely by swinging your foot below the bumper. The P8’s faux leather seats feel truly upmarket, as do the liberal use of high-quality materials throughout the cabin. A panoramic sunroof, heated seats (front and rear), and heated steering wheel are also standard spec.

In terms of safety, the XC40 P8 Recharge has a five-star Euro NCAP rating, a rigid body structure, and a full complement of driver assistance systems, including six airbags, an array of sensors, 360-degree cameras, and radar.

LIGHTNING QUICK

The Volvo Recharge range comes without a starter button. Instead, sensors detect when the driver seat is occupied and readies the car to drive. When a gear is selected, the parking brake disengages. 

Powered by a 78 kWh battery feeding two electric motors for 300 kW total system power and a massive 660 Nm of torque to all four wheels, the P8 Recharge is startingly quick (Volvo claims a zero to 100 km/h time of 4.9 seconds), and will top-out at 160 km/h.

Considering the immediacy of the car’s power delivery, I found that adapting my driving style positively impacted the smoothness of the drive and the return in terms of range and comfort. 

It was relatively easy to reach Volvo’s stated 418-km range by being mindful of driving conditions while using the regenerative braking system sparingly – which also negated the need to overly use the brakes. Using the Pilot Assist system activates a comprehensive suite of semi-autonomous systems, allowing the car to essentially drive for you.

One of my favourite qualities of all XC40 models is how stable and secure they feel on the road, even on gravel surfaces. During our test, the P8 returned around 21.5 kWh with careful driving, and topping up the battery at a DC (Direct Current) fast charger took about 50 minutes. Charging time at a slower AC charger would be significantly longer, while charging at home with a Volvo wall box (included in the price of the P8) should take approximately seven to nine hours.

LAST WORD

As the most potent XC40 in the Volvo line-up, the P8 Recharge is a veritable five-seater sports car, with comfort and style to match its upmarket stature. Although more expensive than its P6 Recharge stablemate, it is still the second-cheapest EV in the South African market, and at its price point also the most powerful, with decent real-world range, making it an excellent all-around electric market leader.

Report by BERNIE HELLBERG JR | Images © VOLVO SOUTH AFRICA

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