Volvo EX30 review

Brilliant breakdown + serious savings

Brilliant breakdown + serious savings

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Brilliant breakdown + serious savings

Volvo's cool-vibed EX30 takes its brand into a completely new, more affordable EV segment. Jonathan Crouch takes a look...

Ten Second Review

The EX30 is a different kind of Volvo, a small EV crossover for a new era and a model that will bring enormous conquest sales for the brand. It's more affordable than you might be expecting and would perhaps make an ideal second car for upwardly mobile families embracing the EV revolution.

Background

Just about every mainstream car maker right at present seems to be trying to re-invent itself as an all-electric brand. In most cases, particularly with the premium makers, that seems to involve bringing us futuristic-looking EVs priced far out of the reach of most ordinary customers. Volvo wants to be different. And proof of that comes with this car, the EX30.

This Chinese-owned Swedish brand can only survive by attracting new breed of younger customers and the EX30 is its most important car yet in reaching them. The brand says this model's job is to 'bring premium full-electric mobility to a much broader audience' and three-quarters of the people who choose it will never have considered a Volvo before. It's priced and sized well below the company's existing XC40 and C40 electric models - think Kia Niro EV and Jeep Avenger in terms of EX30 rivals. Which means you can have one for not much more than the price of an EV supermini. Sounds tempting.

Driving Experience

Unlike previous smaller Volvo EVs, this one is built on a platform specifically designed for an electric vehicle, the SEA chassis from brand parent Geely, underpinnings also used by a close rival, the smart #1. To sit upon it, there's a choice of three powertrains and two battery sizes. Things kick off with a Single Motor model featuring a 51kWh battery powered by a rear-mounted 268bhp motor; range is rated at 214 miles. If that's not enough, you'll be offered the Extended Range Single Motor version that most will probably choose, which extends the range to 298 miles. That larger battery also features with the top Twin Motor Performance model, which adds a second 154bhp electric motor to the front axle, resulting in a combined output of 422bhp and 543Nm of torque: it's the quickest-accelerating Volvo ever. And its range is 286 miles.

All three variants are quick - even the base Single Motor 51kWh version gets to 62mph in 5.7s. The Extended Range model drops that 5.3s and the Twin Motor Performance version demolishes the benchmark sprint in just 3.6s, en route to the 112mph top speed that all modern Volvos share. A more rugged-looking EX30 Cross Country model with a raised ride height will be added to the range.

Design and Build

This is Volvo's smallest-ever EV - and perhaps also its most charismatic. Design chief T.Jon Mayer says the front end was inspired by Star Wars storm trooper sci-fi helmet design. There's certainly a family resemblance to the brand's larger EX90 SUV, with a closed-off grille and the marque's usual 'Thor's Hammer' headlights. Big wheel sizes vary between 18 and 20-inches. And there are some unusual available colours, including a 'Moss Yellow' apparently inspired by lichen that grows on rocks on the West coast of Sweden. The twin-level rear lamp clusters are interesting too. And short overhangs emphasise the compact 4,233mm length.

The interior really is a clean sheet design, like nothing we've ever previously seen from a Volvo. Though you may detect shades of Tesla in the absence of an instrument binnacle and the way that everything - including all the drive gauges - has been located on a centrally-positioned 12.3-inch vertically-mounted Google-based touchscreen. Also unusual is the lack of door-mounted speakers - a sound bar runs across the full width of the dashboard instead. Cupholders slide out of a bulky-looking central armrest; the glovebox and the electric window switches are centrally placed; the central tunnel incorporates a removable storage box; and there's a tray accessible to rear seat passengers. There's only room for a couple of them, but the longer wheelbase made possible by the EV-specific SEA platform helps with leg room. The boot capacity is rated at 318-litres, rising to 622-litres with the rear bench flattened.

Market and Model

Prices from launch start at £33,795, including three years of free servicing. But it's more likely that you'll be acquiring your EX30 with some kind of subscription package, and these from Volvo will start at £579 per month. There are two trim levels - 'Plus' (which references the price we just quoted) and plusher 'Ultra'. An additional entry-level 'Core' specification level is set to follow at a later date, which will lower the entry price to around £32,000. At the other end of the range, a rugged Cross Country variant with raised ground clearance, front and rear skid plates and bespoke 19-inch wheels will be added to the line-up later.

The 'Plus' version most will be looking at features all the kit you'd want and a bit more - especially in terms of media connectivity. That's taken care of by a large Google-based infotainment system showing on a 12.3-inch central portrait display, complete with wireless 'Apple CarPlay' smartphone-mirroring, plus heat for the front seats and steering wheel, a rear view parking camera and all-round parking sensors. 'Plus'-spec also gives you a Harmon Kardon audio system, 2-zone climate control and Volvo's 'Pilot Assist' semi-autonomous drive assist tech. In addition, you get an 11kW on-board charger; and a heat pump which draws warm from the ambient air to reduce the strain on the climate system. If you can stretch to top 'Ultra' trim, you get bigger 20-inch wheels, a panoramic glass roof, a 360-degree surround view parking camera system, powered front seats and a gutsier 22kW on-board charger.

Cost of Ownership

We gave you the EV driving range figures in our 'Driving' section - 214 miles for the standard 51kWh Single Motor version, 298 miles for the 69kWh Single Motor Extended Range variant and 286 miles for the 69kWh Twin Motor Performance derivative. The entry-level lithium-ion-phosphate battery can be charged to a peak of 134kW. But if you stretch to the larger 69kWh nickel-manganese-cobalt battery, then charge can be accepted up to a rate of 153kW. Bear in mind that most EX30s will only have a relatively modest 11kW on-board charger; the 22kW on-board charger is restricted to priciest 'Ultra' trim.

With the base 51kWh battery, from a typical 7.4 KW garage wall box, a 0-100% charge will take 10 hours 15 minutes. If you have an 11kW AC garage wall box, you can reduce that charging time to 7 hours. At a public DC fast charger, you can charge the 51kWh version (10 to 80%) in just 28 minutes.

Volvo claims that all versions of this car have been produced with a reduced CO2 footprint - the company says this is below 30 tonnes over 124,000 miles of driving, covering both operation and production. This has been achieved in part through a body that contains 25% recycled aluminium, 17% recycled steel and 17% recycled plastic.

Summary

There's never been a Volvo quite like the EX30 - and not only because it's the brand's first really compact EV. Think of this car less as a Volvo and a more as simply another version of the two other Geely brand-owned models it shares its SEA platform with (the smart#1 and the Polestar 4) and the thinking behind this design is easier to understand. For sure, it'll take Volvo into a completely new place in terms of customer perception.

It's pleasing that the company has priced the car so competitively to reflect that. Would you really rather have a plush EV supermini rather than one of these? We're guessing not. Particularly as Volvo has styled the car inside and out with so much character. The Swedish marque's name translated from the Latin means 'I roll'. In the case of the EX30, you might be tempted to think 'it rocks' too.

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