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ROAD TEST

REVIEW: Volvo plugs into electric era with smooth, swift XC40 P8

But at more than R1.2m it’s a lot pricier than the most expensive petrol-powered XC40

14 July 2022 - 09:37 By Denis Droppa
The XC40 P8 marks an impressive starting point for a brand that aims to go fully electric by 2030.
The XC40 P8 marks an impressive starting point for a brand that aims to go fully electric by 2030.
Image: Denis Droppa

SA may be far behind the trend of zero-emission cars gaining momentum globally, but local early adopting motorists have a growing choice of premium electric vehicles (EVs) to choose from. After a recent EV blitz by Audi, Mercedes, Jaguar, BMW and Porsche, Volvo has thrown its hat into the electric ring with its XC40 P8, the new battery-powered version of its midsized crossover range.

It is available in a single model priced at R1,260,000, including a Volvo Care package with a five-year maintenance plan and warranty, three years of insurance, access to a petrol-powered Volvo for two weeks per year for three years, plus a home charger.

It has a 78kWh battery pack powering two electric motors: one on the front axle and one at the rear to make it an all-wheel drive car. It has a claimed maximum driving range of 418km on a single charge, and with 304kW and 660Nm it will scoot from 0-100km/h in just 4.9 seconds — easily outgunning the 6.4 seconds of the most powerful petrol XC40. 

It is the swiftest and most silent Volvo I’ve experienced. It is impressively quick and responsive, and even more satisfying than its hot-hatch-like 0-100km/h time is the seamless way the power is delivered. With no gearshifts and no lag, the instantaneous power is entirely step-free and it’s a real pleasure to drive.

A “one-pedal” driving mode has a very prominent braking effect when you lift off the throttle as it recuperates energy for the batteries. With a bit of practice you’re able to drive this car much of the time without having to touch the brake pedal at all.

The heavy braking effect can be deactivated when you wish to freewheel however, which comes in handy for creeping into parking spaces.

This Volvo’s EV status is visually displayed by its solid front grille; there is no need for air vents as there is no engine to cool. Otherwise it looks much like a regular XC40 and behaves like one too.

It is 400kg heavier than its petrol-powered brethren but really doesn’t feel it, partly because of that responsive power delivery but also because the batteries are mounted in the floor to create a low centre of gravity, making for acceptably nimble handling and a plush ride.

At 176mm it has a lower ride height than the 211mm petrol XC40, but it’s still sufficiently raised to take on rough gravel.


Along with an abundance of premium features, a novelty in the P8 is its lack of a starter button.
Along with an abundance of premium features, a novelty in the P8 is its lack of a starter button.
Image: Denis Droppa

The battery-powered XC40 offers the same interior space as the petrol models, with comfortable room suitable for families and a usefully large 414l boot and a 31l luggage nook in the nose. However, its lack of a spare wheel is problematic in pothole-infested SA where punctures aren’t uncommon.

Along with an abundance of premium features, a novelty in the P8 is its lack of a starter button; you simply get in, select Drive or Reverse, and off she goes. However, the system experienced a glitch one day when I locked myself out of the car with the key inside the cabin — which isn’t supposed to happen. Volvo had to come to the rescue with a spare key.

Apart from price, the other elephants in the EV room are range and Eskom’s power-supply woes, but I was able to commute for several days without needing to recharge the XC40’s battery.

The car comes with charging cables for AC public chargers and also a home-charging cable, where it can be plugged into a regular wall socket.  It takes a claimed 40 minutes to charge from zero to 80% with 150kW DC fast charging, and eight to 10 hours from zero to 100% with the supplied 11kW AC fast charger. Charging at home on a regular wall socket can take up to 72 hours.


Electric cars have introduced a new lingo. Instead of litres per 100km their efficiency is measured in kilowatt-hours per 100km. The test car averaged 24.5kWh/100km, which translates to around 50c a kilometre at Eskom rates if charging at home.

In comparison, a petrol car averaging 10l /100km costs R2.67/km at the current fuel price. That’s a huge saving, but it would take a long time to win back the extra cost of this electric Volvo which at R1,260,000 represents a huge premium over the R840,000 for the top-of-the-range petrol XC40.

It is expected that government incentives may make battery-powered cars cheaper in SA in a bid to help transition the local automotive industry into the electric era, but for now EVs remain unaffordable to the masses.

That said, the XC40 P8 is the second-most affordable full-size EV in SA and it will soon be joined by a cheaper electric XC40 called the P6, with a single motor and front wheel drive. Its pricing and specification details will be revealed in due course.


A 'one-pedal' driving mode has a very prominent braking effect when you lift off the throttle as it recuperates energy for the batteries.
A 'one-pedal' driving mode has a very prominent braking effect when you lift off the throttle as it recuperates energy for the batteries.
Image: Denis Droppa

Tech Specs

POWER UNIT

Type: Electric

Power: 300kW

Torque: 660Nm

DRIVETRAIN

Type: All-wheel drive

PERFORMANCE

Top speed: 180km/h

0-100km/h: 4.9 sec (claimed)

Electricity consumption: 24.5kWh/100km (claimed), 6.1l/100km (as tested)

Fuel range: 418km (claimed)

STANDARD FEATURES

Stability control, ABS brakes, six airbags, lane-keeping assist, automatic emergency braking, LED directional headlamps, 360° parking camera, climate control, electric windows, touchscreen infotainment system, adaptive cruise control, panoramic sunroof, auto on/off headlights, rain-sensing wipers, keyless entry, multifunction steering wheel controls, digital instrument panel, trip computer, leather upholstery, navigation, electric tailgate, electrically adjustable front seats with heating

COST OF OWNERSHIP

Warranty: Five years/100,000km (Eight year/160,000km battery warranty)

Service plan: Five years/100,000km

Price: R1,260,000

Lease: R26,866 a month

*at 10% interest over 60 months no deposit

 

Volvo XC40 P8 Recharge

WE LIKE: Running costs, performance, refinement

WE DISLIKE: Price, long charging times

VERDICT: An EV for early adopters

Motor News star rating

Design ****

Performance  *****

Economy *****

Ride ****

Handling ****

Safety ****

Value For Money **

Overall ****

The competition

BMW iX3, 210kW/400Nm — R1,290,000

Audi E-tron 55 quattro, 300kW/664Nm — R1,745,000

Jaguar I-Pace, 294kW/696Nm — R2,029,800

Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design, 185kW/350Nm — R840,000

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