I reminisce about the time when we fantasised about automatic, electric-powered cars and thought of how conceptual and unreal they would be when they finally arrive. Cut to my grateful being nestled in the comfy confines of the Volvo XC40 Recharge, and it looks like more utopia than dystopia from here. This practical, family-luxury SUV has normalised what electric can do with effortless grace.
Unlike many cars that ‘go electric’, the XC40 has held its own with a smooth transition into performance and practicality bundled in a ready-to-come-home package. It is sporty, gritty, and comfortable even when you choose to drive with a reserved mindset, citing the battery range. Yet, the 418km range doesn’t seem to wear out all that easily.
With an electric charging infrastructure that is growing in the country, you can imagine the privilege of this generous driving range. In fact, you need to just stop by for a 40-minute grub break and voila, your car is 80 per cent charged.
While the car has put on several hundred kilograms in its transformation into an electric beast, it manages to be incredibly lithe. It can go from 0-100kmph in just 4.9 seconds. Positioning the driving experience as responsive and responsible, Volvo adds the advantage of its high-performance electric powertrain to the well-established obsession with safety that has become the company’s chief credo.
The XC40 Recharge has no start button. The twin electric motors kick to life and accelerate you to your wildest speed fantasies while the all-wheel-drive manages to handle bumpy terrains.
The One-Pedal drive aspect of the Recharge is endearing and could be a bad habit one may develop. As soon as the driver steps off the accelerator, the car slows down, regenerating power.
The mission to be truly eco-conscious and sustainable in every aspect is reflected around every corner of the car. The interior carpeting of the Recharge is made from recycled plastic. The ‘Volvo On Call’ app helps friends and family access your car, thereby reducing their carbon footprint. However, sustainability doesn’t come at the cost of concessions on comfort and style.
The design of the XC40 Recharge is sleek, without being too pretentious. The black skirting along the body is tasteful, while the overall demeanour of the SUV is compact and sporty. On the inside, you have access to a world of technology through the central console that connects you to Google Assistant, Google Maps, and Google Play Store. You can connect to apps and your account without using your phone. There is no mention of Apple integration yet.
Long journeys with the family in the XC40 Recharge will be a breeze. The intelligent route planner keeps you well informed about the charging points you can leverage along the way. Under the hood, you have extra storage space in the absence of the battery, so you’re never out of space. The Harman Kardon speakers are intelligently set up within the cabin to give you and your loved ones an absolute audial treat as you travel past different terrains.
One cannot talk about a Volvo without focusing on the safety features that are packed into their vehicles. The Recharge is no exception with a high-definition 360-degree bird’s eye parking view. This simulation is so fantastic and realistic that you’d be able to squeeze out of the tightest spots without grazing your grille. For an SUV in a cramped-up city, this could be an absolute boon. A clever assistance system has been integrated into the setup to warn you against pedestrians and other motorists, in front of or behind your car. It’s not just the technology but also the build of the car that is designed to protect every occupant in case of a collision. The steering assist takes a while to get used to as the response from the system on the steering wheel can be disconcerting for some. However, once you get familiar with it, features like the blind spot information system can prove to be a handy ally.
When I look back at my experience driving this absolute exemplar of practicality, there really isn’t much to ask for. Given the way the electric vehicle market is blossoming, a Volvo XC40 Recharge should soon become a regular car in a nation of rising fuel prices and growing e-vehicle infrastructure.
Motor: Dual electric — All-wheel drive
Output: 408 bhp/660 nM of torque
0 to 100kmph: 4.9 seconds
Top speed: 180kmph
Range (claimed): 418km