Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin review (2021): A powerful luxury electric SUV

The Volvo XC40 has been around since 2017 and is the manufacturer’s compact luxury crossover SUV. In 2019, the now Chinese-owned automaker revealed its latest foray in electrification when it announced the XC40 Recharge Twin.

The ‘Recharge’ name is the overarching term used by the manufacturer to denote a fully electric or plug-in hybrid model, while ‘Twin’ refers to two electric motors. Indeed, the fully electric XC40 is extremely nippy, where it boasts 408hp of power and claims to get to 60mph in under 4.7 seconds.

If you’d prefer to watch a review of the Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin, head on over to our YouTube channel.

Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin price & competition

Given its dual-motor configuration, it’s no surprise that it costs a pretty penny. The XC40 Recharge Twin starts from £49,950, while its plug-in hybrid sibling starts from £37,345 instead. Note, however, that the Recharge Plug-in Hybrid T4 and T5 are both far less powerful than the Recharge Twin; they output 211hp and 262hp of power, respectively.

The fully electric model is available in three trims: Twin, Twin Plus and Twin Pro. As standard, it comes with the following:

  • Two electric motors that combined output 304 kW (408hp), 660 Nm of torque
  • All-wheel-drive system with off-road mode
  • 78 kWh battery that claims to run for 259 miles on a single charge
  • Supports up to 150kW charging; supports 11kW three-phase charging
  • 19″ 5-spoke alloy wheels
  • LED headlights and taillights
  • Dark tinted rear side and cargo windows
  • Power-operated tailgate with Kick-function
  • Integrated roof rails with a 75kg load capacity
  • 9″ portrait infotainment system running on Android Automotive OS with support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
  • 12.3″ fully digitalized instrument cluster
  • 8-speaker audio system with 250 Watts of power
  • Four USB Type-C ports (two front, two rear)
  • Rear armrest with cupholders
  • 60:40 split-folding rear seats with ski latch
  • Safety systems include: rear parking sensors, front collision warning, road sign information display, cruise control, lane keeping aid

Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin review

The Twin Plus that comes in at £52,950 adds the following:

  • Integrated heat pump for a bettered driving range in colder climates
  • Electrically adjustable and heated front seats, and rear heated seats
  • Heated steering wheel and windscreen
  • Rearview camera and front parking sensors
  • Active bending headlights and cleaning system

The top-spec Twin Pro, which we have on review, costs £56,700 and offers the following:

  • Metallic and premium metallic paint finishes at no additional charge
  • 20″ 5 V-spoke alloy wheels
  • Leather or Nubuck upholstery
  • 13-speaker Harman Kardon audio system with 600 Watts of power
  • Power folding rear headrests
  • Power glass tilt and slide panoramic sunroof with sun curtain
  • 360-degree cameras
  • Blind spot monitoring system with steer assist, cross-traffic alert and rear collision warning
  • Adaptive cruise control and Pilot Assist

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Given the relatively small price difference, we’d highly suggest getting the Twin Plus or Twin Pro as these models come with an integrated heat pump; a key factor if you live in a colder country – the heat pump feeds hot air generated from the battery pack into the climate control system, which means the vehicle doesn’t have to waste as much energy heating the interior of the cabin. We’ll expand on this further down in this review.

When it comes to the SUV’s colour, all trim levels come in ‘Black Stone’. Should you want to alter the finish on the Twin or Twin Plus, it’ll cost £585 for the metallic Denim Blue, Fusion Red, Thunder Grey, Glacier Silver and pictured Onyx Black. Alternatively, £850 gets you the ‘Premium metallic’ Crystal White and Sage Green finishes, instead. All the colour options come in at no additional cost on the Twin Pro.

Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin audio review

As for its competitors, there are a few less powerful all-electric SUVs to consider: the MG ZS EV starts from £26,095; the Mazda MX-30 SE-L Lux that costs £26,715 (124 miles WLTP); the 39 kWh (180 miles WLTP) Kia e-Niro ‘2’ at £30,345 and the longer-range (282 miles WLTP) e-Niro ‘2 64’ at £32,445; there’s the Hyundai Kona Electric that starts from £27,950 for the 180-mile WLTP variant, with the 282-mile WLTP model coming in at £32,550. The Citroen e-C4 (217 miles WLTP) starts from £30,895; the Peugeot e-2008 costs £30,730 (206 miles WLTP) and the Volkswagen ID.4 starts from £40,800 (323 miles WLTP).

If you’re looking for something a bit more stylish and want more power there are a few premium all-electric SUVs to consider, too: the Audi e-tron at £62,025; the Jaguar I-Pace at £65,245; the Mercedes EQC at £65,720; and the Tesla Model X at £90,980.

Elsewhere, you’ve got the MG5 EV, an all-electric estate with a claimed range of 214 miles at £25,095 and the XC40’s sibling, the Polestar 2 saloon that starts from £45,900.

Read next: Volkswagen ID.3 review: The best electric hatchback?

Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin exterior review

From the exterior, the Volvo looks the part. It’s got a very sleek design and is reminiscent of the automaker’s other models. From the front, its accentuated bonnet and T-shaped headlights give it a slightly aggressive look on the road. The front grille is covered by a plastic panel and the front bumper is partially made out of plastic.

At the side, its 19″ or 20″ alloys give the vehicle a slightly sporty stance with its profile sitting relatively close to the ground. Plastic inserts around the wheel arches and side skirts don’t detract from the overall design either, as these don’t protrude too much from the vehicle’s body. The integrated spoiler also gives the SUV some pizzazz. Indeed, the rear of the vehicle is similarly stylish with its L-shaped taillights and slightly bubble-shaped boot.

Frankly, to us, it’s aesthetically flawless but looks are subjective, so you might prefer the exterior design of its competitors, instead.

Read next: Kia e-Niro review: The best all-electric SUV?

Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin interior review

Likewise with the interior; we find it’s perfect with the right blend of premium materials, use of physical buttons and appropriately-sized displays. The Volvo doesn’t share the same minimalist design as the Tesla Model X, nor does it omit all physical buttons like the Volkswagen ID.4.

Indeed, there are still a few physical buttons and knobs intact; media controls and a physical volume knob are planted by the centre console. Here, you’ll also find the hazard, max defroster and heated rear window buttons. A flurry of physical buttons also reside on the steering wheel, where the ones on the right are media controls and the ones on the left alter the vehicle’s cruise control settings. The two stalks behind the steering wheel also make it easy to interact with the vehicle – you don’t have to resort to tapping virtual buttons on the infotainment system to adjust the wipers; a complaint we had of the Tesla Model 3.

Onto the centre 9″ portrait display, it’s easy to navigate with all the vehicle’s settings accessible via a touch of a button. Through the infotainment system, you’ll also be able to adjust the vehicle’s climate controls, which are readily available as they’re permanently planted along the bottom segment of the display.

The real differentiator between other vehicles is that the Volvo, much like its sibling, the Polestar 2, uses Android Automotive. The operating system natively supports Google Maps, which in turn offers fantastic route planning and there’s even a stripped-down version of the Play Store so that you can download apps. Route planning in EVs is particularly important, where some have their own navigation data and maps; the issue with them is that they don’t accurately feed real-time traffic data to the car’s system and will often mean you’re spending more time in traffic. Volvo and Polestar have avoided this by opting to partner with Google, and we’re all for it.

Read next: Polestar 2 review: The all-electric muscle car

Better still, navigation data also shows up on the 12.3″ fully digitalized instrument cluster, which means you’ll have a detailed view of where you’re going and makes it easier to glance at directions. However, it’s a shame that a heads-up display doesn’t come as standard nor is it available as an option; this would have further bolstered the vehicle’s safety credentials.

Volvo’s integration of Google’s services doesn’t stop there, as Google Assistant is baked into the vehicle’s infotainment system. This allows you to search the web with your voice to get tailored results, and goes a step further allowing you to adjust a few of the vehicle’s settings: “Hey Google, turn up the fan speed by one”; “Hey Google, play the radio”; “Hey Google, lower the volume”. The voice commands work flawlessly and will pick up most accents and languages, too.

On the subject of technology, you can wireless charge a smartphone via the non-slip pad found by the centre console. One can also use the USB Type-C port to access Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, where the operating systems give you the ability to playback music over USB, rather than having to resort to degraded Bluetooth quality.

Here, if you opt for the Twin or Twin Plus models, you’ll get an eight-speaker system that outputs 250 Watts. If you want a subwoofer, you’ll want to get the Twin Pro as it comes with a 13-speaker Harman Kardon system that outputs a whopping 600 Watts of power. If you’d like to hear how the latter system performs, head on over to our YouTube channel for the dedicated audio review. Note, there’s no means of upgrading either the Twin or Twin Plus variants of the XC40 Recharge to include the Harman Kardon system.

Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin storage review

Should a phone be plugged in, you’ll find a handy storage compartment at the front of the centre console which allows you to vertically wedge a device into it – at least that’s what we used it for. There are two small bays next to the wireless charging pad, which also allow you to loosely store a smartphone.

Here, you’ll also find a secondary Type-C port and a 12V socket, should you wish to plug in a dashcam or charge a device. A further two Type-C ports are located at the rear of the cabin.

As for the centre console, it houses a sleek gear selector, two cupholders and an armrest. Here, a large-sized purse or wallet can fit in this compartment, and with the ability to remove the plastic storage box, it allows for greater flexibility when transporting slightly elongated valuables. Of course, the glove box is there to be used too.

The front door bins are also pretty large, where they’ll fit a 500ml bottle with ease; the compartments are lined in fabric, which prevents keys or loose change from rattling when you’re on the road. At the rear, the door bins are a little more limited, but there are some handy storage bays beside each of the rear seats. Drop down the rear armrest and you’ll also find two cupholders. Should the fifth seat be vacant, you can also open up the vehicle’s ski latch, allowing you to transport elongated goods without having to sacrifice either of the two seats.

Speaking of the boot, there’s 452 litres of space including the underfloor compartment and with the seats down, this figure extends up to 1,328 litres. Here’s how it compares to its all-electric counterparts: Audi e-tron (660/1,725 litres); VW ID.4 (543/1,575 litres); Kia e-Niro (451/1,405 litres); MG ZS EV (448/1,375 litres); Peugeot e-2008 (434/1,467 litres); Citroen e-C4 (380/1,250 litres); Mazda MX-30 (341/1,146 litres); Hyundai Kona Electric (332/1,114 litres). As for the MG5 EV estate, it offers 464/1,456 litres, while the Polestar 2 offers 364/1,054 litres, respectively.

There’s further storage at the front of the vehicle, too – 31 litres to be specific, which will suffice for the vehicle’s charging cables. However, unlike the rear tailgate, it’s not electronically operated, which means you’ll need to prop open the frunk via a lever found by the driver’s side door; the same you’d find when opening the engine compartment on a combustion vehicle. As such, we prefer storing the Mode 3 cable (Type 2 to Type 2) within the underfloor compartment at the rear of the vehicle.

To make it easier, there is a multitude of ways to open the rear tailgate: via a physical button found by the driver’s side door; long-pressing the boot button on the physical remote; pressing the physical boot release button above the number plate; and by kicking the air underneath the rear bumper. The latter works by detecting motion via a sensor and will only work when you have the key on you. For security reasons, it won’t operate the boot if the driver is sat at the front. To close the tailgate, you can use the aforementioned kick function or press the button on the boot to electronically close it.

As for boot practicality, it’s perfect with a hatchback design. There’s no boot lip and the seats, which have a 60:40 design, can be folded flat. This makes loading and unloading the XC40 Recharge a breeze; the fixing points and hooks are also handy. To further heighten the experience, the rear headrests electronically fold flat when the corresponding seat latch is released – this feature is only present in the Twin Pro trim.

Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin hatchback

Around the back, you also have the option to add a retractable towbar. This £1,175 option makes it convenient for those who frequently tow trailers. Here, the XC40 Recharge Twin can tow an unbraked trailer (up to 750kg), where the towing weight doubles if it’s braked. If you prefer to carry things on the roof, the built-in roof rails can take up to 75kg of load.

Read next: MG ZS EV review: An affordable all-electric SUV

Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin comfort review

Moving onto comfort, the standard level trim has manually adjustable seats. Move up to the Plus or Pro and you’ll find electronically adjustable and heated front seats, while the steering wheel and rear seats are heated too.

The rear middle seat is unsurprisingly stiff, but the other four have a good firmness. The rear seats have a natural seating height and unlike some of its competitors, the Volvo’s seats aren’t diagonally wedged; this means your occupants won’t get any leg fatigue on longer-distance drives. Headroom and legroom are plentiful at the rear of the cabin, where 6-foot 4-inches (193cm) individuals won’t feel henned in.

However, the same couldn’t be said about the front of the cabin. Here, we find the front seats are a bit propped up meaning if you like peering over the bonnet and sitting relatively close to the steering wheel, your head will sit awfully close to the vehicle’s roof lining. An issue we’ve yet to come across in rival offerings. Of course, should you not have the same driving style, the fully adjustable front seats will allow you to drop down quite significantly.

A further annoyance is that the driver’s seat has a pressure sensor, which means when no one is sat in the said seat, the vehicle powers down. The same behaviour occurs in the VW ID.4 and the Polestar 2, and while it can make single-occupant driving more seamless, as there’s no ignition or start/stop button, it does mean that if there are other occupants in the cabin they’ll be left without any climate controls or entertainment when the driver steps out of the vehicle. There is a means of overriding this function if the key is left within the cabin, and an occupant reaches over to the infotainment screen, but it’s still not as simple as other vehicles that retain the start/stop button.

Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin cabin

As for cabin noise, the XC40 Recharge Twin is extremely well insulated. Still, the Audi e-tron reigns supreme in this department. We suspect it’s due to the German automaker’s use of adaptive air suspension, as opposed to the coil springs found on the Volvo. Indeed, this means you can hear and feel a bit more of the road.

Read next: MG5 EV review: The affordable fully electric estate

Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin performance review

While this might not be ideal for those who want a serene interior or a cushiony driving experience, it does yield a better drive on windy country roads. While the fully electric XC40 still suffers from a bit of body roll, especially when compared to the likes of the more sturdy Polestar 2 saloon, it’s still better than some of its SUV counterparts, for example, the Hyundai Kona Electric and Kia e-Niro. We’d say the Volvo’s suspension is on par with the likes of the VW ID.4 and the MG ZS EV.

In terms of its handling characteristics, the steering wheel feels connected to the front axle giving you great control over the vehicle. It can also be stiffened via a setting found on the infotainment system. But what really gives confidence in cornering is the XC40’s excellent all-wheel-drive system. Here, the SUV provides fantastic traction, no matter the weather. One can also select ‘Off-road mode’, which further increases the SUV’s traction when driving in difficult terrain, on steep downhill gradients, and on poor surfaces. This mode is only available at low speeds (up to 25 mph) and automatically disengages when this limit is exceeded.

Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin drive modes

Handling isn’t its only forte, as thanks to having two electric motors, one on each axle, the XC40 Recharge Twin has 304 kW (408hp) of power and generates 660 Nm of torque. It’s claimed to get to 60mph in 4.7 seconds, but tested using Racelogic’s Vbox Sport, we achieved this feat in 4.51 seconds; this ranks it among the fastest all-electric SUVs on the market. Our only complaint here is that its top speed is limited to 112mph; most of us won’t surpass this figure, but those who frequent the Germany Autobahn or have access to unrestricted roads will be left a tad disappointed.

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While straight-line speed is important to some, the most important factor for any electric vehicle is driving range. Here, the Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin achieves between 240-250 miles in our mixed driving tests, which makes it one of the first vehicle we’ve tested to date which matches the manufacturer’s claim. It should be said that it is surprising, given the near-identical Polestar 2, which also houses a 78 kWh battery pack, netted 200 miles on the same tests.

Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin rear performance

We suspect that’s due to the fact that the XC40 Twin Pro on review features a heat pump, while the Polestar 2 that we tested omitted the battery-saving feature. While we can’t say this alone will net 40-50 miles, it’s certainly a feature we’d look for in an EV, especially if you live in a country that has a colder climate. As such, we’d highly recommend getting the Twin Plus or Twin Pro variants of the XC40 for their inclusion of a heat pump; we suspect the regular Twin will net a lower range, putting it closer to the original figure we attained with the Polestar 2.

In comparison to its rivals, the XC40 Recharge Twin Pro achieves close to the figures we managed on the Hyundai Kona Electric, the Kia e-Niro and the VW ID.4, which all netted around 240-260 miles on a single charge. The Hyundai and Kia tested had a heat pump, while the VW didn’t have one included; it can, however, be added as an option on the lower-spec trims of the ID.4, meaning the VW could surpass most of its competitors.

Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin front looks

Unlike the Volkswagen that has very light regenerative braking, the Volvo has a rather harsh braking mode, which allows you to effectively drive with one pedal while also recouping energy back into the battery pack. It’s flawless and we wish more manufacturers would incorporate a one-pedal drive or at the very least, provide consumers with the option to toggle it on. This feature makes driving the Volvo within inner-city commutes less stressful. Should you prefer not to drive in one-pedal mode, you can easily disable the option through the infotainment system.

To recharge the vehicle more rapidly, Volvo supports a 150 kW input via the CCS charging port. This will take you to 80% charge from empty in 40 minutes. Opt for an 11 kW three-phase power supply via the Type 2 port and it’ll take eight hours from zero to full; a 7 kW input will take 12 hours, while a three-pin socket will exceed 20 hours.

Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin charging port

Read next: Tesla Model 3 review (2021 facelift): Should you buy into the hype?

Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin safety review

When it comes to safety, the XC40 Recharge Twin is extremely well equipped. Being a Volvo, it undergoes a lot of rigorous tests and should give you reassurance when driving on the road. In 2018, Euro NCAP tested the XC40 and awarded it 5/5 stars; it scored particularly well in its Adult and Child occupancy tests with a score of 97% and 87%, respectively. While the model that underwent the tests isn’t the fully electric variant, we can only assume that it would fare the same if it were to be re-tested.

When it comes to driver assistance systems, as standard, the XC40 Recharge Twin comes with front collision warning, road sign information display, cruise control and lane-keeping aid. Note, unlike some of its rivals, the former driving aid can be permanently disabled, which is definitely appreciated.

Upgrade to the Twin Pro and you’ll get blind spot monitoring system with steer assist, cross-traffic alert and rear collision warning and adaptive cruise control. Here, Pilot Assist is Volvo’s semi-autonomous driving technology, where the vehicle will steer, keep you in lane and accelerate or decelerate for you according to the distance of the vehicle in front of you. It works very well and left us impressed, although, you can’t take your hands off the wheel – this is due to UK and EU regulation.

While it’s great to see a plethora of systems operating in the Twin Pro, one could have wished for more features to filter down to the standard-level trim; blind-spot monitoring which only features in the top-spec Twin Pro, comes as standard in the MG ZS EV Exclusive, an all-electric SUV that costs half that of the XC40 Recharge.

Similarly, when it comes to parking, the Volvo only has rear parking sensors as standard. Should you want a rearview camera and front parking sensors, you’ll need to get the Twin Pro. On the subject of parking, when reversing the vehicle emits a beeping sound – similar to what you’d hear on a big truck. This is done to alert pedestrians of your oncoming presence, as the SUV is extremely quiet. As for visibility, it’s excellent throughout the cabin and with a relatively short bonnet, it makes it easy to peer over the front of the vehicle; if you’re worried about curbing your wheels, the 360-degree cameras in the Twin Pro will give you some peace of mind as they’ll detect when your wheels are closing on to the curb.

Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin award

Read next: Hyundai Kona Electric review: Kia e-Niro alternative?

TotallyEV’s verdict on the Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin

On the whole, the Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin is arguably the best premium all-electric SUV. While its range won’t compete with the likes of the more expensive Tesla Model X (£90,980), nor will it provide an enormous boot or the cushiony driving experience of the Audi e-tron (£62,025), we do feel that Volvo has nailed the execution of its first fully electric vehicle.

It’s supremely stylish, packed with clever technology, goes the distance and delivers incredible performance from its two electric motors. As such, the Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin rightfully receives our Best Buy award, where it ranks among the best electric vehicles we’ve tested to date.

Should you not want a performance SUV and would like to save substantial amounts of money, you should consider the equally impressive Hyundai Kona Electric, the Kia e-Niro and even the VW ID.4, all of which impress across the board, especially when it comes to their driving range.

Do you think Volvo has hit the mark with the XC40 Recharge Twin? Let us know in the comments section below or via social media; we’re on: YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Design
10
Features
9
Storage space
10
Driving comfort
9
Performance
9
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Christopher is an avid car enthusiast and techie. In his spare time, he reviews the latest consumer electronic products on his YouTube channel, TotallydubbedHD. Elsewhere, he practices Taekwondo, in which he has held a black belt for several years and coaches at a national level. He also speaks fluent English, French, Armenian, and loves to practice freestyle street dance.

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