Review: Volvo EX30

Ahead of its local introduction as one of Mzansi's most affordable EVs, we got behind the wheel of the impressive Volvo EX30 in Barcelona. Read our thoughts on the model, which starts at R775 900, here. The post Review: Volvo EX30 appeared first on CAR Magazine.

Review: Volvo EX30

 The EX30 is Volvo’s all-electric return to the compact car market, effectively replacing the old V40 hatchback. Positioned below its fellow electric siblings, the C40 and XC40, it offers a temptingly low starting price for a premium-badged EV. We drove it in Barcelona, read our thoughts here.  

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Volvo EX30 Extended Range Fast Facts

  • Price: R865 900 (as tested); EX30 from R775 900
  • Powertrain: 64 kWh battery with a single electric motor
  • Transmission: single-speed
  • Power: 200 kW
  • Torque: 343 N.m
  • 0-100km/h: 5.3 seconds
  • Top speed: 180 km/h
  • Rivals: BMW iX1; Mini SE Countryman 

Volvo has been owned outright by the Chinese carmaker Geely since 2010 when the Chinese bought the Swedish company from then-cash-strapped Ford; and the EX30 is one of the first models it has produced that relies entirely on Chinese hardware. Previous electric Volvos, such as the C40 and XC40, have used carry-over Volvo bits and pieces, but effectively under the skin – the EX30 is all-Geely. 

Related: LONG-TERM WRAP-UP: Volvo C40 Recharge

It’s also one of the first electric cars to use lithium-ion phosphate battery technology. The basic Core model comes with a relatively small 49 kWh battery which is cheaper and easier to make than the more sophisticated 64 kWh lithium-ion battery that powers the Extended Range and Performance models. It’s also why the EX30’s European entry price tag is so temptingly low, especially compared to the likes of the BMW iX1 (which is, in fairness, a bigger car). The trade-off is that the Core model doesn’t offer as much range (344 km) against the 474 km of the Extended Range model we’re testing here – but for city-dwellers who fancy a premium badge at a reduced price, it could prove enticing. 


And that’s the point: because the EX30 is Volvo’s new entry-level model, it’s hoped to potentially open up the brand to buyers who wouldn’t have been able to stretch to the pricier C40 or XC40 models. It’s a sharply styled crossover that’s much closer to being a hatchback with a bit of ground clearance than it is a true SUV. 

Unlike some rivals, it’s not over-styled and instead relies on things such as pixelated headlights, distinct tail lamp clusters and carefully chiselled body panels to lend it character. Thankfully that all works well, and it’s a handsome car. The usual parade of grey and silver paint options abound, but some wackier choices such as a baby blue, or a bright yellow look interesting. Notwithstanding its relatively affordable entry point, all the surfaces of the EX30’s interior look and feel expensive. The seats are terrific and the recycled plastic that forms the main trim of the dashboard looks intriguing, and certainly distinctive. 

There are problems, though. The first is a shortage of rear passenger knee room, while the boot is also small.


Then there’s the touchscreen. Volvo has taken a leaf out of Tesla’s playbook and put everything from the instruments to the infotainment to the climate control onto the one 12.3-inch display in the centre of the dash. There’s no driver’s instrument panel behind the wheel, and no head-up display projecting onto the windscreen, either. Volvo’s engineers swear that they consider it a safe setup, but in our experience using the central screen like this makes for a less natural eye line when driving, and you get distracted by all the other stuff on the screen, too.

The software looks great, but the menu layout has too many layers and is ultimately confusing. Even a simple task such as adjusting the stereo volume or moving one of the door mirrors has become way too complicated. 

Related: Review: Volvo XC40 P6 Recharge

The EX30 is surprisingly quick, thanks to a 200 kW electric motor that’s as powerful as a Porsche flat-six engine from the 1990s. With 343 N.m of torque, acceleration from a standstill is terrific, and although performance does tail off a bit as you get up to highway speeds, there’s plenty of torque available for a quick dab of the accelerator to go for a gap in the traffic. 


The claimed range seems to hold up well. We were driving the EX30 on a relatively cool, damp day in Barcelona and starting with a fully-charged battery, it was showing a decent 450 km available. We averaged a solid 18 kWh/100km, including some stints on fast-flowing highways.

The squared-off steering wheel feels great to hold and although there’s not a lot of feedback, it’s quick across its rack with the EX30 feeling suitably nippy. It’s not the lightest compact crossover, with that weight penalty more obvious mid-corner. It’s good around town, though, where the slightly boxy design offers great visibility. The ride quality of all the EX30 derivatives that we drove was admirable, but bear in mind our drive was on very well-kept Spanish tarmac, and the ruts and lumps of South African roads could prove to be a sterner test.

Related: Volvo Unveils EM90 as The Firm’s First All-Electric MPV

The upgrade to the four-wheel-drive Performance model is probably not worth the extra money. Yes, 315 kW is nice, and the 3.6 seconds it takes to get to 100 km/h is hilarious the first few times, but you do lose a good chunk of range with the thrills. 

The Volvo EX30 scores some big wins with its sharp styling, gorgeous cabin and the tantalising price of the basic Core model. This Extended Range Plus gets useful extra range for the money, and even just in basic rear-wheel-drive form, it has impressive performance. The only downsides are the lack of rear space and the idiosyncrasies of the touchscreen.  

Find the full feature in the February issue of CAR Magazine.

Browse thousands of new and used cars here with CARmag. 

The post Review: Volvo EX30 appeared first on CAR Magazine.

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