You may not have noticed it, but Volvo recently stopped manufacturing diesel variants of its compact SUV. There are probably still a few left in stock, but it is no longer possible to order one. The XC40 range therefore only includes petrol and plug-in hybrid variants, before this 100% electric version does not arrive in dealerships in early 2021. We were able to get behind the wheel of a pre-production model very briefly, not fully finalized, but already very successful.
Very efficient despite its 2,200 kg
Despite a very high mass of around 2,200 kg (The battery alone already weighs 500 kg…), this Recharge P8 AWD, equipped with a 78 kWh lithium-ion battery, of which 75 kWh can be used, accelerates very strongly (0 to 100 km / h in just 4.9 s) thanks to 408 hp and 660 Nm of torque delivered by its two electric motors, each installed on one of the two running gears. This Swede has four-wheel drive, and thus distributes the torque between the front and the rear as well as possible to maintain good balance and maintain stability, even on wet roads, as we have seen.
Balanced chassis, but be careful on slippery roads
Of course, with such a mass, you must remain vigilant on a winding road, especially if it is slippery, to avoid slipping of the nose, which can then be important. Fortunately, the ESP anti-skidding works well, and quite finely, so without ever intervening too early. But it will remain subject to the laws of physics, which always disadvantage extra pounds. Furthermore, too much steering assistance does not allow you to fully feel the level of grip as well as its evolutions, which would have informed the driver of a slippery road. Hence our advice to set this steering to its "firm" mode, which is still a little too assisted, but significantly limits the problem.
Successful "One pedal" mode
For its electric XC40, Volvo has decided to take up a good idea inaugurated by BMW on its i3, then taken up by the Nissan Leaf and the Honda e, namely a "One Pedal" mode where braking is managed, except in an emergency, by releasing the accelerator pedal until it comes to a complete stop. Very pleasant in town where this choice allows to minimize the movements of the right foot, this system takes care of maximizing the regenerative braking (the one which recharges the battery by transforming the kinetic energy into electricity thanks to the generator function of the electric motors), and add friction braking if necessary. In the vast majority of cases, everything is managed with good progressivity, although there is still a little brutality around 10 km / h when you decide to re-accelerate. A small defect on which the engineers are surely working on before marketing.
Two regenerative braking values available
To satisfy those who do not like this important engine brake (2 m / s2 for technicians), the XC40 Recharge P8 AWD – that's its nickname – will offer a lower level of regenerative braking, which was not yet available. on the model tested, as well as a freewheel mode for those who prefer. Of course, in an emergency, in this "One Pedal" mode, it will be necessary to press the brake pedal, which is quite natural to dose, except on small surprise braking in town where there is a small and unpleasant reaction time.
Android on board
On board, in addition to the various displays related to the electrical functions, we note the appearance of a new communication interface using the Android system of our mobile phones. This allows us to have all the apps we are used to, to replace the access and start key with our smartphone, and this electric XC40 to be connected to the outside. The updates will be done by the Cloud as at Tesla, while this SUV "communicates" with the other connected cars, for example by signaling to others that the road is slippery if there is a triggering of traction control, ABS or ESP, or by receiving this same information from other connected cars.
A barely shrunken chest
Finally, thanks to a battery architecture making the best use of the underside of the seats and the central tunnel, which is now useless in the absence of an exhaust and a transmission shaft, Volvo has practically succeeded in preserving the boot space, which would lose only around 20 dm3. Something that we will not fail to check in January, just like the real autonomy, which Volvo announces at 418 km on the WLTP cycle.
On the other hand, if fast charging to 150 kW is possible for an 80% full in 40 minutes (remember that there are only about forty Ionity terminals offering this power in France, and only on the motorways), is astonishing that Volvo does not provide better than a 16 A cable (3.7 kW max, so a full in 20 h) to recharge it on a Wallbox at home, while a 32 A (7.4 kW) cable would cut the recharging time in half. For those who have a three-phase power supply (this is extremely rare at home), this Swede fortunately has an on-board charger of 11 kW, which is enough to fill up to 80% in about 6 hours. This 100% electric Volvo will be available from next January against € 59,940 (bonus of € 3,000 so if no options), only in R-Design finish.