The fastest-accelerating Volvo ever, and the first entirely battery-powered Volvo – they are the headlines from Sweden this week. They are not entirely unconnected, centring around an ambitious switch to electric power for the brand.
The numbers are there: the plug-in hybrid model has a turbocharged, four-cylinder engine with 314bhp which is topped up by an electric motor for a total 400bhp, enough for a Volvo 0-62mph sprint record of 4.4 seconds. The car costs £56,105.
The same plug-in powertrain is also available in Polestar Engineered versions of the V60 estate (£57,205) and XC60 SUV (£64,545), with deliveries due to start before the end of the year. All the Polestar Engineered cars benefit from high performance upgrades including Brembo or Akebono brakes, Öhlins adjustable shock absorbers, lightweight forged alloy wheels, a retuned automatic transmission and styling tweaks such as the Polestar signature of gold coloured brake calipers and seat belts.
As plug-in hybrids all the Polestar Engineered cars have an emissions-free electric-only capability – in the S60 it’s enough for around 27 miles. That is well beaten by the other new Volvo this week: the XC40 Recharge. “Recharge” is the umbrella name Volvo has chosen for its coming new fleet of electric models, of which the battery-powered version of the hot-selling compact SUV is the first. You can tell it from other XC40s by its blanked off radiator grille.
The XC40 Recharge boasts a range of 249 miles with an 80 per cent charge possible in 40 minutes on a fast-charger. The all-wheel-driver shouldn’t be slow with its twin motors providing 403bhp.
Volvo is currently the only car maker to offer a plug-in variant of every model in its line-up, but the XC40 Recharge is the first pure electric Volvo. Many more are set to follow as Volvo heads for its target of making 50 per cent of its global production all-electric by 2025, with the rest all hybrids. From next year, enter a Volvo showroom and the first question you will be asked will be: do you want a Volvo with a cord or without one?
As an extra incentive to opt for one with a plug Volvo is offering free electricity for a year.