Electrification is coming quick, and the best ideological quandary for producers that embrace it’s whether or not to purchase or construct an EV platform. Is it higher to speculate the large quantities essential to create an all-new structure or hammer out an current automobile for electrical operation? Whereas the primary method is braver and extra future proof, it is also way more costly. Missing the flexibility to put in writing as many zeros on a test as bigger makers akin to Volkswagen, Volvo has taken the second possibility with its 2021 XC40 Recharge P8.
Volvo’s Compact Modular Structure underpins the Recharge and was designed with electrification in thoughts—it additionally kinds the idea for the Polestar 2 EV—however its engineers nonetheless needed to make substantial modifications to accommodate the P8’s powertrain and guarantee it’s as secure as some other XC40. Compact 201-hp electrical motors energy every axle, with the entrance finish having gained a brand new reinforcing underbody construction instead of the common mannequin’s internal-combustion engine. This area additionally homes the powertrain’s digital controls and a small frunk designed to accommodate a charging cable. A 75-kWh lithium-ion battery pack is mounted beneath the ground in an aluminum cage, the place it reduces floor clearance from 8.Three inches to six.9. However when it comes to packaging, the one compromise is an almost 25-percent smaller cargo maintain behind the rear seats.
The P8 largely seems to be like an everyday XC40, too. From the skin, solely model-specific badging and the dearth of each a standard radiator grille and any exhaust tailpipes serve to tell apart it from its fossil-fueled brethren. The passenger compartment is equally unchanged past the alternative of the tachometer within the digital instrument cluster with a power-flow meter. As with different XC40s, cabin area is nice by the requirements of the compact SUV phase, though supplies are extra redolent of sturdiness than luxurious. The one different notable revision is the pioneering arrival of Volvo’s new Android-based working system that is shared with the Polestar 2, which mixes some automobile controls and infotainment capabilities and is navigated by way of the central portrait-oriented touchscreen.
The P8 shares each its powertrain and 402-hp complete output with the Polestar 2, however the two automobiles have very completely different characters. We count on the marginally heavier Volvo to be virtually as speedy because the Polestar with an estimated 4.3-second zero-to-60-mph time; we clocked the Polestar at 4.1 seconds to 60 mph. The immediacy of the powertrain’s response is spectacular, and the dual motors give their all virtually silently. Traction is superb, even within the damp circumstances we examined the automobile in, though the extent of thrust tails off at increased speeds. We nonetheless had no issue confirming the 112-mph velocity limiter that Volvo now matches to all of its vehicles.
Abrupt acceleration is the XC40 Recharge’s occasional get together trick, however not one that actually fits its character. The P8’s suspension settings are pliant and clearly biased extra towards consolation than iron-fisted physique management. The Recharge weighs an estimated 4900 kilos, or roughly a half-ton greater than an all-wheel-drive gasoline XC40 T5. On undulating surfaces the chassis struggles to cool down, and bigger bumps had the passive dampers combating to take care of disciplined management. The mighty electrical motors haven’t any issue motivating the P8’s bulk, however persuading its mass to shortly change path ends in the entrance tires shortly surrendering to understeer.
The P8 is much extra spectacular when pushed at an informal tempo. There’s one thing virtually Bentley-like about its mixture of easy acceleration and relaxed dealing with. Cruising refinement is superb, with solely the faintest trace of wind noise coming from the tops of the doorways at 75 mph. Volvo’s Pilot Help stays one of many higher smart-cruise-control methods, able to deftly managing each stop-and-go congestion and flowing visitors.
Volvo’s regenerative-braking setup lets you choose a one-pedal driving mode that delivers forceful deceleration while you let off the accelerator. However we truly discovered this setting a little bit too aggressive for clean operation at city speeds. Switching it off permits the P8 to coast, with each regenerative and friction braking managed by the left pedal. Volvo is predicting an EPA vary of greater than 200 miles, with the P8 supporting DC quick charging at speeds of as much as 150 kW—sufficient to take the battery from empty to 80 % in simply 40 minutes. Maxing our the automobile’s 11-kW onboard charger with a Degree 2 charging station will replenish the pack in round 7.5 hours.
The Android working system is mostly a welcome addition, though Volvo says the model we skilled did not characterize the ultimate specification. The core interface seems to be nice, with intuitive and crisply rendered app icons on the central touchscreen. However the mapping for the Google-based navigation appeared no higher than the one you’d get working Android Auto on a smartphone. It didn’t label sizeable cities when zoomed out and rendered minor roads as skinny black strains that seemed like cracks on the high-definition display.
Contemplating Volvo’s pledge that by 2025 half of all of the vehicles it produces globally will likely be EVs, with the rest both hybrids or plug-ins, the absolutely electrical XC40 Recharge impresses on many ranges. However with an anticipated value that can simply slip beneath $50,000, not together with federal and native tax credit, we count on it should battle to search out its area of interest inside a shortly increasing premium EV phase. Whereas the US doubtless will not get the less-powerful and extra inexpensive front-wheel-drive model that will likely be bought in different markets, the Recharge P8 does properly illustrate Volvo’s dedication to electrification.
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