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The Elbil Twins – Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin review

Dammit. I was going to start this review with the statement that the XC40 is Volvo’s first EV, but it would appear that the Swedish brand actually had an EV (the Elbil – electric car in Swedish) as far back as 1976. 

Volvo 1976 Elbil

Anyway, the XC40 Recharge is basically Volvo’s first introduction to their new EV platform and as most of you would (or should) know, electrification is the direction that the entire brand is heading.

Unlike the Elbil, the XC40 recharge twin doesn’t look like a cardboard box resting on four wheels, in fact, it looks remarkably similar to the ICE powered XC40 SUV, just a little more aerodynamic and sports a closed off grille.

Then there’s its power. The ‘76 Elbil came with a bank of twelve six-Volt batteries that gave it a range of 50km or two hours of driving, their new EV was equipped with a 78kWh battery with a range of 438km and powers two electric motors that offer 300kW of power, 660Nm of torque and a zero to a hundred sprint in 4.9 seconds – I don’t think their ‘76 model goto to 100km/h. 

Despite the ‘76 and XC40 Recharge ‘Elbils’ being virtually different in every way, they do both share the same objectives, be more environmentally friendly, quieter, cheaper to maintain and have a longer life span – not so sure about the ANCAP rating with the ’76 model though.

Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin review NZ

Now a little while back we got our hands on the C40 recharge and it’s fair to say that we were suitably impressed, however, the XC40 Twin is a whole different kettle of fish.

As I said, the grille is now more of a panel because there’s no engine behind it, however, lift the bonnet and you get 31L of ‘frunk’ space. Its ‘Thor hammer’ headlights/DRls are matrix LEDs, it has 20-inch feet and an aerodynamic drag coefficient of 0.32cd. 

Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin review NZ

My review model came in a crystal white body colour with a contrasting black roof and lower sills, while its size remains 4.44m long and around about 1.65/7m tall – so very garage friendly. The kicker tailgate opens up to 414L of boot space and the rear seats have a 60/40 split making it versatile and easy to load.

Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin review NZ

Inside, Volvo have ditched their full leather interior and become vegan, so 100% leather-free. They call fusion microtech which is a recycled textile based upholstery, better on the environment but also still comfy to sit on – win/win I guess.  

The cubby holes and stowage areas are very practical with incredibly generous door bins  and space to charge your smartphone, plus there are flashes of topography-based design  inspirations from Sweden (such as the Hibisco mountains), with the dash one that actually illuminates at night –  Volvo described this as a contemporary vibe.

Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin review NZ
Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin review NZ

The vibes themselves are delivered via a state-of-the-art 13 speaker Haman Karden system that’s been specially tuned to suit the SUV. And of course, Google is the interface for the XC40’s infotainment system.

My week behind the wheel of the Swedish EV SUV was actually spent doing ‘normal’ things. Travelling in and out of the city, running errands, school run and generally behaving. However, with 600+Nm of torque to play with, I managed to sneak away for the odd burst of fun and acceleration.

Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin review NZ

Stamp down on the right pedal and the XC40 recharge twin will get satisfyingly unsettled, the world whizzes past and a stomach churning rate and visions of the brand’s racing credentials come to the fore. Sure it’s a heavy, small sized SUV (so not a sports car), but it’ll still upset those beside you at the on-ramp lights and with its low centre of gravity, carry great speeds in and out of the corners – should you wish to give it some jandal.

The cabin is well-insulated from the world outside and I took the EV SUV for a trek across some unsealed Auckland roads to test its mantle on the metal, vibrations were minimal, and it happily smothered the lumps and bumps with ease – very comparable in fact.

Around town and at the store, visibility is good and due to its size, it slots into parking bays with room to spare – which is becoming a rare thing with SUVs. 

Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin review NZ

In terms of real world range, Volvo is saying the XC40 Recharge is capable of 432 km, but this is very dependent on how/where you drive. I picked it up showing 100% on around about 410km and drove it like a journalist (regularly testing out its zero to 100 and other more aggressive tests) and returned it with 39%/180km left – so I feel that the numbers are achievable, but more importantly, It did a long weekend of use consuming just 60% battery, so range anxiety never reared its ugly head.

Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin review NZ

What I really liked about the XC40 Recharge (aside from the power), was its simplicity, it’s ready to go the moment you sit on the driver’s seat, so no need to fumble for keys, just select drive and go. Plus the endless amounts of conversation I had with the SUV, being Google equipped meant that I learnt all about the history of ABBA, had Spotify play their tunes and never lost my way thanks to Maps.

Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin review NZ

It’s Volvo safe and as modern/eco friendly as they come, but playing with the Twins was still the most fun – Mamma Mia they’re fun.  

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