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Volvo Introduces 2021 XC40 Recharge

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Volvo officially - and virtually - presented the all-new 2021 XC Recharge all-electric small SUV this week; we take a look, ahead of our first drive next week.

This week we were given an in-depth look at what the upcoming Volvo XC40 Recharge fully electric vehicle (BEV) is all about. This is the first all-electric Volvo-badged vehicle, and for the company it constitutes a first big step towards its goal of attaining carbon-neutrality by 2040.

You have to look closely to see the differences between the XC40 Recharge (the “Recharge” branding will be applied to all plug-in hybrid or EV Volvos going forward) and its gas-powered sibling. The front grille opening has been replaced by a body-coloured panel that now houses all the necessary sensors for the autonomous driving aids. (Since there’s no engine up front, there’s less of a requirement for cooling and so the grille is no longer needed).

Other changes include an all-new Recharge-specific colour called Sage Green Metallic, special wheels measuring either 19 or 20 inches, “Recharge” branding on the upper C pillars and unique tailgate badges. Impressively, Volvo – much like Kia with their Soul EV – managed to take the exact shape they were working with – a compact shape, no less – and fit a big 78 kWh battery in there without having to change very much of the XC40’s shape.

Nor was much else sacrificed: passenger space is the same and the rear underfloor storage that was lost when they stuffed the battery in there has been made up thanks to the existence of a storage bin under the hood, or a “frunk”. Yes, just like in a Porsche Boxster or 911.

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2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge, profile
Photo: Volvo
2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge, profile

In addition to the 78-kwh battery (75 kWh usable), there are both front and rear electric motors that provide all-wheel drive, 402 hp and 486 lb-ft of torque. Those impressive numbers help make for a 0-100 km/h sprint of under five seconds, according to Volvo. Like so many other BEVs, the XC40 Recharge gets instant torque from the EV motors as there is no interruption to power delivery attributed to the shifting of gears, because there are no gears to shift.

In fact, the whole drive system is so simple that all you have to do is walk up to the XC40 Recharge with the keyfob in your pocket, open the door, select drive or reverse, and set off. As long as you have the keyfob on you, you’re good to go, which is a boon for drivers that like to keep their keys in large bags or jackets.

Also, since there is a preconditioning option, not only can you just get in and set off, your car can be made to have the proper climate settings ready to go as soon as you get inside. This can be done either when plugged in or not, but it will use battery power if not.

Of course, this being an EV, power is one thing, but for many, the question of range is an even more relevant one. Volvo is claiming an EPA-certified 335 km, which puts the XC40 roughly on par with the likes of the Nissan LEAF Plus and Chevrolet Bolt. The Tesla Model Y, though, continues to lead the pack in the range department with over 525 km depending on spec.

2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge, charging port
Photo: Volvo
2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge, charging port

Charging times range from eight hours on a Level 2 charger to 40 minutes (from 0-80 percent) on a DC fast charger, where it can charge at speeds of up to 150 kw. Of course, brake regeneration is also on hand to help charge the battery while driving (and also allows for one-pedal driving as the brakes almost never actually have to be applied to stop) but Volvo has decided not to display your predicted range on the instrument cluster until it hits just 25 km left.

Volvo says this reduces range anxiety – we’re not so sure, though, and will wait until we drive the XC40 Recharge (watch this space next week) to pass final judgement. On purchase, you will be provided a ChargePoint charging network start-up guide and given the option to purchase a Chargepoint Level 2 home charging system.

2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge, interior
Photo: Volvo
2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge, interior

For the first time in a Volvo, infotainment duties are handled by Android Automotive, which got its debut in the Polestar 2, a car jointly developed by Volvo and Chinese manufacturer Geely.

Android Automotive essentially makes use of the Google Cloud; you can log in to your Google account from the driver’s seat and, assuming your smartphone is present, have access to all sorts of features included therein such as Google maps, your contacts, your Gmail and more. It’s all shown on a standard 9-inch central display.

It also allows for “Hey Google” voice commands, including asking Google to help find a charging station. Sirius satellite radio and Apple CarPlay, however, won’t be supported at launch but will soon be made available through over-the-air updates.

2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge, three-quarters rear
Photo: Volvo
2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge, three-quarters rear

In addition to all that, all the expected driver aids are here such as adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, blind spot assist, road departure mitigation and more as Volvo strives to reduce both the amount of emissions their lineup produces, and the amount of accidents their drivers are involved in. Spec-wise, a single XC40 Recharge trim is available – its costs $64,960 and is roughly on-par equipment-wise with the R-Design AWD trim in the gas-powered XC40, which has an MSRP of $48,250

Look for a full drive report of the 2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge next week, right here on Auto123.

2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge, three-quarters front
Photo: Volvo
2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge, three-quarters front
Photos:Volvo
2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge pictures