FIRST DRIVE: 2022 Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric

By sep, 22 March 2022

Is 660Nm of torque 'too powerful' for this entry-level premium compact SUV EV?

Earlier last week, Volvo Car Malaysia (VCM) unveiled its first EV for the Malaysian market, the 2022 Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric. Their plans involve introducing a brand new EV model every year starting 2022, and what's even more amazing is the fact that its first fully-electric XC40 is locally-assembled.

While the prices are kept under locks until 4 April 2022, we were invited to test drive this electrified Volvo XC40 around the streets of Genting and Janda Baik just to see what it feels like to pilot it around mixed road conditions. In short, the XC40 was a darling to drive, but only if you don't have a heavy foot. Let me explain.

From the outside, the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric looks more or less similar to its petrol-powered siblings, apart from a fully covered front grille (nice touch with same colour as the body). What's hiding underneath all that are a set of electric motors placed between the axles that produce 300kW (408PS) and 660Nm of torque. Quick question - Which other compact SUV do you know that has 660Nm of torque? I'll wait.

How about sports cars with over 600Nm of torque? If you do a quick Google search, you'll find that the list is quite impressive. Going back to the XC40, this EV SUV is able to hit 0-100km/h in just 4.9 seconds before arriving at its limited top speed of 180km/h. With 660Nm of torque, getting there is quite an experience when you put the pedal to the metal. In other words, this thing launches if you have a heavy right foot. Some would say that the XC40 can be 'too powerful' for this particular segment.

But if you're all about saving the world, then none of these figures should matter to you. What really matters is how far you can travel before there's ever a need to plug in and recharge its 78kWh lithium-ion battery back. Fully charged and ready to go, the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric can basically cover 418km (based on the WLTP standard).

Charging times are set around 7-8 hours via its onboard 11kW AC charger (Type 2). The XC40 also supports DC fast-charging up to 150kW and if you can manage to find one, the charging time from 0-80% will roughly take only 33 minutes.

For our test drive, we started things off in Subang at around 94%, and after travelling around 250km, there was still 31% on tap. According to the calculations given to us, we ended up using 47kW of electricity, which is around RM17 worth. In comparison, the drive's support car (a very exciting German petrol-powered hatchback) ended up using RM130 worth of RON 97 petrol to cover the same amount of distance (RON 97 at the time was already RM4 per litre).

As for the driving experience, handling was easy enough in urban conditions - pretty much straightforward and hassle-free. The 'One Pedal Drive' function allows for, well, one-pedal operations, which meant that the car will eventually stop when you lift off the pedal (but you do need to turn on the mode first). If you prefer some added 'engine braking' feeling in your EV, this is the mode for you.

On the twisties, how your foot handles the accelerator pedal defines how the car drives. If you're light and smooth, the handling of the XC40 will be light and smooth. Prefer to stomp on and lift off? Its instant torque delivery will let you know that you're about to fly on the mountain roads (hopefully, not off of it). Luckily, Volvo has a host of safety driving aids to reduce the chances of these things happening.

As for the in-cabin experience, we were quite surprised at how quiet the XC40 was. There's hardly any wind noise, but with no engine noise whatsoever, the tyre noise was a bit loud at first, but you'll quickly drown that out with its banging 13-speaker Harman Kardon audio system. The insides look like a regular petrol-powered XC40, apart from some EV-specific features embedded within its instrument cluster and Google-powered infotainment system.

We also love the fact that if you use Google Maps to drive to your location, the XC40 also shows the expected battery percentage once you reach there (a very useful feature to further reduce your range anxiety). This way, it's a whole lot easier to plan out your drives in the future.

At the end of the day, the 2022 Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric is a lot better than we initially expected. It can be a bit powerful at first (660Nm of torque is no joke), but it'll eventually teach you to become a smoother driver in general. With over 400km of travel distance in between charges, we can also say that range anxiety shouldn't be a major thing anymore.

Plus, we also love the fact that it has a front 31-litre trunk (or frunk). Perfect place to stash your durians outside of the cabin. Hopefully, the price announcement on 4 April 2022 will make owning the fully-electric XC40 an even more exciting prospect.