Why XC40 Rechange overcomes challenges

This has been quite a challenging time for anyone in business, let alone a car company specialising in high-end models with a touch of class and sophistication.

The Volvo XC40 Recharge

The series of lockdowns shut dealerships for months on end. Even people who wanted to buy a car found obstacles in their way. Others who were pondering a purchase may have decided to bide their time.

And the confusion over electric vehicles didn’t help. Should I buy a hybrid? Is an electric vehicle (EV) better? Are there enough charging points? Will I save enough money by shunning petrol or diesel to make it worth my while?

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It all sounds like a nightmare. But not for Volvo, it seems. It sold 581,464 cars in the first 10 months of this year, up 12.6 per cent compared with the same period last year.

That’s good for a premium brand. Dig a little deeper and you will find not everyone is mystified by the change to EVs. On the contrary, some folks are happy to switch to a plug-in car, and why not? It can save you a fortune.

There are issues to do with range and price, of course, and not everyone will find that EVs in their present form will suit their needs but Volvo is confidently leading from the front and this policy is paying dividends.

Tested here is the XC40, a car which dealers say is in high demand. It is a good-looking vehicle and it is incredibly well equipped. This model is far from cheap, but it seems to be no obstacle to Volvo’s success. The XC40 – the smaller of the company’s SUV offerings – costs from around £50,000.

But it stands comparisons to elite rivals and when you consider the business case – and the monthly payments – it makes a lot more sense. No-one buys a car outright these days.

So, how does the XC40 shape up? It is elegantly simple and well equipped. Jump in the XC40 Recharge and you may be surprised to find there isn’t an ignition key or button. Rather, the car senses your presence and the engine – or should I say, motor – is ready to go.

At the end of your journey, there is no ‘off’ button. Put the transmission lever into park and get out. Lock the doors, but don’t worry if you forget, for the car is one step ahead and it will lock itself.

I wasn’t sure I would like this feature – I like many people prefer to stay in charge – but I grew to like it.

Above all, I liked the performance. Swift? It touched 60mph in less than five seconds. It makes me smile when people suggest electric vehicles are boring. The very nature of electric power is quicker off the mark than petrol or diesel.

There is Volvo On Call feature with an app – available for your smartphone, smartwatch or tablet, which enables you to control various car functions remotely, and also acts as an emergency assistant and tracking service.

There is wireless/inductive mobile phone charging and a lovely eight-speaker sound system with four USB sockets.

It wouldn’t be a Volvo if it wasn’t ahead on safety. It has City Safety which includes pedestrian, cyclist and large animal detection, and front collision warning with emergency braking. It has Oncoming Lane Mitigation which automatically provides steering assistance if you unwittingly drift out of your lane, guiding you back into your lane.

There is Run-off Road Protection which automatically tightens the front seatbelts should the car inadvertently leave the road, while front seat frames with a collapsible section reduce vertical forces to help prevent spinal injuries.

There are very few shortcomings. I found the access a little light to say this is quite a sizable car. And the glossy wheels look lovely but I was forever panicking about scuffing them in car parks – give me a rugged SUV-style wheels any day.

There are three versions of XC40. The basic is equipped with Volvo’s new Android-based infotainment system with Google Maps, Google Assistant and access to the Google Play Store

Recharge Twin Plus specification includes power-adjustable heated front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, energy-efficient heat pump system, front parking sensors and reversing camera

And the Recharge Twin Pro tested here features 360-degree parking camera system, panoramic sunroof, 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, leather/nubuck upholstery, 20in alloy wheels and Pilot Assist with adaptive cruise control and steering assistance

Globally, the XC60 continues to be the best-selling model, followed by the XC40 and the XC90.

And Volvo has continued its run of success in the annual Caravan and Motorhome Club Towcar of the Year competition, with its electrified models coming to the fore to take two awards in the 2022 contest.

The XC40 Recharge was the winner in the 1500-1700kg caravan category, while the V60 Recharge T6 AWD estate was named the best plug-in hybrid vehicle.

Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin Pro

Price: £56,700. The XC40 Recharge starts at £49,950 or £619 a month. XC40 Recharge pure electric now available in three versions – Twin, Twin Plus and Twin Pro

Engine: An electric motor emitting 408bhp. 78kWh battery gives range of up to 259 miles on a single charge; recharging to 80 per cent capacity in just 40 minutes when using a 150kW (DC) fast charger

Performance: Top speed 112mph and 0 to 60mph in 4.7 seconds

Range: 259 miles

Emissions: 0

Warranty: Three years, 60,000 miles