It's been around 25 years since I said goodbye to Volvo's rear-wheel drive. The Volvo 940 is a sought-after classic today. Now the Swedish manufacturer is pulling this form of drive out of the technology shelf again with the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric. The likelihood that the Swedes have suddenly had a bout of nostalgia is almost zero. No, the drive jump back into the future has completely rational reasons. “This significantly increases efficiency,” says Lutz Stiegler, who is responsible for electric drives at Volvo.
The technician also delivers a result straight away. “The new XC40 Recharge Twin has a range that is around 100 kilometers longer.” This is a result of the complete technical conversion. “Apart from the air conditioning compressor and the 12-volt battery, everything is new or massively changed,” explains Stiegler. This starts with the drive and ends with the battery. But one after anonther. Instead of two equally powerful PSM-E machines (permanent magnet synchronous machines) each with 150 kilowatts of power, the Swedes are now using a mixed double, consisting of an asynchronous electric motor with 110 kW / 150 HP on the front axle and a permanent magnet electric motor with 190 kW at the rear / 258 hp. This leads to an unchanged system output of 300 kW / 408 HP. Technically, the Volvo
This Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric Twin differs significantly in detail. The Swedes developed the rear motor themselves and equipped it with an improved silicon carbide inverter, which brings about five percent efficiency. This is accompanied by a change in power. Now the rear axle is in charge and no longer the front axle as before. The principle is the same that Audi uses with the Q4 e-tron. The asynchronous electric motor can run without power without major losses and is switched on at lightning speed when necessary. This new drive layout also improves recuperation.
The energy for the 541 kilometer range in the test car comes from the new 82 kilowatt hour battery (79 kWh net), which is equipped with better energy cells with a higher energy density. This means that the charging power at DC stations increases to 200 kW and the batteries are filled from 10 to 80 percent in 28 minutes. Volvo states 17.6 kWh/100 kilometers as consumption; we achieved 20.3 kWh/100 km on our test drive, which took us along motorways, country roads and through cities. AC charging is done by a three-phase 11 kW onboard charger. Volvo continues to offer the 69 kWh batteries of the predecessor in the version with pure rear-wheel drive.
Back to the top model. If you don't have fun with 408 hp, you're in the wrong car with a Volvo. Due to the rear-heavy nature of the drive, the 4.40 meter long e-crossover takes corners much more ambitiously than before. Especially since the wheelbase of 2.70 meters invites you to do so. The rear is more lively, but cannot completely conceal the slight tendency to understeer, but it does reduce it significantly. Only the seats could offer more lateral support. So the Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric Twin completes the sprint from zero to 100 km/h in 4.8 seconds and can now also reach speeds of up to 180 km/h. That's 20 km/h more than before. If you deactivate the ESP using the touchscreen, you will be even more pleased with the agility contribution of the rear. However, the skid preventer cannot be switched off completely and intervenes when things get tight. The security popes from Sweden can't quite get out of their skin. The chassis, which is not too soft, matches the driving dynamics, so there is no annoying rocking when driving over bumps.
You won't find a driving mode switch. Almost all operation is done via the touchscreen, whose top menu level is similar to that of a smartphone. No wonder, after all, infotainment is still based on Android. But there is no corresponding setting option there either. Only the steering can be tuned to be sportier. But the difference to the standard setting is marginal and consists largely of larger restoring forces. So we stick with the smoother version. The selection options for recuperation are interesting. In addition to “one pedal” driving and complete deactivation, there is also an “auto” function to choose from. The delay depends on the traffic or the car in front. We liked this because free rolling is the most energetically efficient and the driver decides for himself when and how to brake.
The interior of the XC40 Recharge has hardly changed. The ambience of the The central touchscreen is nine inches, which is rather small by current standards. It's enough for us, even if the thick frame around the screen is slowly becoming a little narrower. Speaking of narrow. The Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric Twin Motor is not for those on a tight budget. The test car costs 69,200 euros.