The Volvo XC40 P6 Recharge was released as the “more affordable” version of the XC40 P8 twin motor that launched in March last year.

Sacrifices had to be made to the model to make it less expensive than the P8. The P6 is a single motor 170kW front-wheel drive with a slightly smaller lithium-ion battery pack at 69kWh, vs the 78kWh on the P8.

Despite the difference in battery size, which results in the P6 being 158kg lighter, it promises to be more efficient with a higher range of 423km on a single charge (WLTP cycle) versus 418km on the P8.

It has peak outputs of 170kW and 330Nm of torque and can accelerate from 0-100km/h in 7.4 seconds, which is 2.5 seconds more than the P8 with its 300kW of power and 660Nm of torque.

The models look the same, except the back of the P6 says “Recharge”, and the P8 says “Recharge Twin”.

I spent a few weeks with the P6 from the middle of December until January, and in that time, we experienced the worst bout of load-shedding.

Being based in Johannesburg, the power cuts were up to 4.5 hours at a time with shorter gaps between the next scheduled cut. Having an electric car for a longer than normal time frame during stage six meant it wasn’t as easy to plan around.

I previously maintained that, during stage four, I could work around it. Now, I had to pay attention if my power cut was 2.5 hours or 4.5 hours and the timings between the next scheduled cut. If I was using a public charger, I had to make sure it was online and available.

The electric vehicle (EV) has an 11kW on-board charger that you can use at home. It also comes with a home wallbox charging station when you purchase it. I used my single phase 32A 7.4kW home charger to recharge often. But I found that the car provided an inaccurate estimate as to when the charge would be complete. It was always off by more than an hour, unlike other EVs I’ve used it with.

Interestingly, to use Audi’s public chargers in my suburb, I was told I would need the dealer principal’s “permission”. I’ve also experienced issues with Porsche chargers when I had a BMW on test. But Jaguar and BMW dealerships don’t question you when you show up with another brand of electric car.

EVs all use the same Type 2 charger, so dealerships need to be more open minded about allowing any EV driver to use their chargers. It works both ways for their drivers too.

Charging issues aside, the car seamlessly fitted into my lifestyle for the type of commutes I do. I don’t drive to an office daily, I do my grocery run in my suburb, and rarely do long distance driving.

For those of you who are not aware, the Volvo XC40 electric range does not have a “start” button. You simply put the vehicle into gear and drive off. Having driven the P8 at launch, I was familiar with this, and didn’t find it out of the ordinary. Once you hit the park button and open the door, the car switches off.

It is powerful enough to get around or accelerate at take-off, and in all fairness, I did not need the amount of power that the P8 possesses. As the “less powerful” option, it is ideal for those who want to transition to an EV for the amount of driving they do.

When I was below 50% on battery, I would use the range optimiser, but even then, I drove more efficiently than I would on my petrol car. Outside of any optimisation mode, I didn’t find the aircon as powerful as I wanted it to be for peak summer in Joburg. My average consumption over three weeks was 22.6Wh/100km.

The P6 is comfortable on the inside. It has plenty of space with comforts like a heated steering wheel and seats, a wireless phone charger, multiple USB-C ports and park assist cameras.

It also features a large Android-powered infotainment system with Google services built-in, which needs internet connectivity to operate. I also paired my iPhone seamlessly to use Apple CarPlay.

I loved using Google Maps natively on the car purely because it gives a battery percentage indicator for when you arrive at your destination. This tiny bit of information is crucial for EV drivers that will also make it easier to find a charger near your destination.

But connectivity is not great on South African roads. Frequent load-shedding also means cellular towers don’t work, so that adds to the problem. When there is no connectivity feeding through, a large chunk of the driver display is blank. You cannot change it to a different view as it only supports a single screen.

And that brings me to my next point. The Android based infotainment is basic; not much effort went into making it look visually appealing. The interface could do with a skin, like how Samsung, Oppo and Xiaomi have their own overlays on Android; I feel like it is lacking on cars.

Overall, I enjoyed driving the Volvo XC40 P6 Recharge. Stage six load-shedding is indeed a problem, and the outlook isn’t great but requires more planning before heading out.

The P6 Recharge is punted as the “most affordable” luxury electric car, given that it is the company’s “entry-level” EV. All 25 units allocated at launch sold out within 24 hours through the portal.

EVs are still expensive in South Africa, and its R1 075 000 price point appeals to a niche market. There is no stock of the EV that is sold exclusively online.

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