Volvo EX30 Review: Big performance, small footprint

Of all the EVs I’ve driven, this is the optimum vehicle in terms of price, performance, range, size and design. It’s very, very difficult to find a fault in the EX30 (I found just one, locating the charging infrastructure tool on the touchscreen display (see below).

This is Scandi minimalism with Chinese tech, in a very happy mobility marriage. It’s like a kind of castle car: it feels as safe as the safest of houses (a castle) but it’s rapid. Very rapid. Surprisingly rapid. It took my right foot well and truly by surprise when I first tested the acceleration out. As what will be a family car, this will likely cause a few family arguments (‘Don’t go so fast, Ade’). I was driving the Twin Motor Performance, which propels you from 0 to 60 mph in 3.4 of our Earth seconds. Rapid. It’s a Volvo, after all! Compare that to the new Tesla Model 3 Performance which comes in at 2.9 seconds. What’s 0.5 of a second between EV enthusiasts?

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This is not a big car, although it does feel big inside. If most of your journeys are inner city, with the occasional long journey, this is an optimal choice. In size, it’s somewhere between a Volkswagen ID.3 and ID.4.

I love the screen simplicity: one large screen display only. I appreciate I have a rather native EV approach to this, born of an experience with Teslas, but I find multiple screens a safety distraction, so, for me, this is very welcome. I would imagine some of the safety design team at Volvo have given this some pretty rigorous user experience design testing.

The design styling is super strong. Elegance comes as standard: both interior and exterior. The front light set is particularly striking. Something about it just shouts cool EV, without hurting your ears.

A subject not talked about too much in the automotive press are sound systems. The EX30 comes with a Harman Kardon system as standard. With the excellent build quality minimising external sound, this delivered superlatively good sounds at even the highest levels. There are some good speakers in that car.

For range reassurance, there is Google Maps integration which delivers really strong visibility of the charging infrastructure landscape. However, finding that on the map, though, is not intuitive: it’s a small electricity icon buried away. Once you know, you know, and it’s all good. It’s the first thing dealerships should communicate. It’s rather incongruous, as the rest of the user experience design and screen navigation is super intuitive; the best I’ve come across in any EV I’ve driven, in fact.

On sustainability, the EX30 is a big win. It has the smallest carbon footprint of any fully electric Volvo car, to date. That’s according to the life cycle assessment (LCA) of the Volvo EX30, which concludes that it has a total carbon footprint of 23 tonnes per 200,000km – approximately 60% less than the XC40 combustion car.

It scores very highly on the use of sustainable materials. The proportion of recycled materials in the EX30 is the highest of any Volvo car, so far. Around one quarter of the aluminium, and almost one fifth of the steel is recycled material. In addition, around 17 per cent of all plastics within the car, from interior components to exterior bumpers, are made from recycled material.

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