From almost every angle, the EX30 is a handsome car. Although its SUV silhouette is conventional and likely to be instantly recognisable to buyers, the details (or rather the lack of them) in many areas are what mark the EX30 out from the crowd.
The front end is dominated by Volvo’s trademark ‘Thor’s Hammer’ headlights that bleed neatly into smooth bumper and thin air intake. It’s beautifully simple and gives the whole car a clean, organic feel. The rear is busier, but introduces a new double-deck light arrangement that sees the lamp clusters split by a narrow strip of bodywork. The sides are heavily sculpted with pronounced wheel arches that help disguise the height and add a chunky, muscular feel.
The door handles take the form of aero-friendly bars that sit flush to the body when the car is on the move, while the gloss black B-pillars house a sensor that reads the credit card-style electronic key. Owners will be able to unlock and start their cars via an e-key linked to their mobile phones. Neat.
The main focus in the pared-back interior is its central infotainment system which runs an Android-based operating system, so it gets Google Maps navigation, Assistant and Play. It will use 5G when it's available and will also feature Apple CarPlay, although this was missing from our test cars. Volvo assures us that it will be working by the time customers take delivery early next year.
Volvo has clearly sought to minimise visual clutter, but there are areas where this has gone too far. There is no secondary display ahead of the squared-off steering wheel (just a gloss black puck that contains the driver camera (yes, it really is spying on you) or a head up display – even as an option. That means the only road speed readout is tucked away in a corner of the central screen - which is far from ideal. Yes, Tesla owners have had to put up with this for years, but it seems an odd move for a brand that made its name as a safety pioneer.
Volvo’s decision to not instal physical buttons will also cause concern for some buyers. Everything from the sound system volume to the glove box opening is controlled via the screen. Although the system is quick enough to operate, the sheer quantity of features it has to handle makes it a complicated set-up. Volvo says that it is still working on the interface and aims to fix some of the current quirks before deliveries start.
There are two physical buttons for the windows in the central console which moves backwards and forwards and contains two cup holders. As with the Volkswagen ID models, you need to select a ‘shift’ button to control the rear windows.
Also moved out of the doors are the speakers, which have been replaced by a sound bar which runs along the top of the dashboard. This leaves plenty of room in the doors for large storage compartments, which add to a feeling of interior space.
The interior comes with a choice of four different schemes, each known as ‘Rooms’ and whilst Volvo has resisted the urge to add fake performance noises to the EX30 they’ve followed in the example of cars like the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 by offering a selection of Scandinavian inspired sound themes, which can be paired with different lighting options. These range from warm sunlight falling through the leaves of a forest, a sunset on the Swedish west coast, the sound of the northern lights, or even Swedish. If that all get too much then the central screen has an option called Calm View, that lets you opt to have only the essential driver information on the centre display, which will be less distracting for night driving.
As part of the four ‘rooms’ Volvo has introduced some unusual new materials. While most look great and offer something new (the webbed Flax is particularly pleasant) others aren’t quite so successful. Particle trim uses minute pieces of old white uPVC window frames. The end result is a hard, brittle plastic that wouldn’t look out of place on a Travelodge floor.
Volvo EX30 practicality and boot space
While the front feels reasonably spacious and airy (particularly with the panoramic sunroof), the rear seats are more compact. With a six-footer in the front, there’s very little legroom for those confined to the rear. Foot space under the front seats is also at a premium, which adds to the slightly cramped feeling. If you’re considering the EX30 as family transport, be sure to check that the family can actually fit before taking the plunge.
Space is also in shorty supply in the driver’s footwell. Although the steering wheel has a reasonable amount of adjustment, those with even average size feet will find that there’s very little space to rest their left foot. Yes, there’s a footrest built into the floor, but its height forces your knee up towards the steering wheel.
Boot storage is better than you'll get on a Vauxhall Mokka and about the same size as an VW ID.3 but not as generous as a Kia Niro EV. We like the handy little infographic to help you work out how much you can cram into it. You also get a small frunk for cable storage.
Volvo EX30 Safety
Being a Volvo, safety is key for the EX30 and it comes with loads of safety kit. It has driver assistance programmes like lane changing tech, collision avoidance systems and a driver alert system to warn you if your attention is wandering. A feature standard across the range aims to prevent door accidents by alerting occupants about to open a door in front of a cyclist, scooter, or runner.
The EX30 is the first Volvo to include a new generation of the Park Pilot Assist feature that can handle all types of parking spaces including parallel, curved, perpendicular, and diagonal fishbone-style. The feature identifies available parking spots, then a user taps the one wanted in the new 3D user interface and the system operates the throttle, braking, and parks the car for you.
Volvo EX30 range, battery and charging
The EX30 comes with two different battery options. The standard-range battery uses lithium iron phosphate (LFP) chemistry, which is more cost-effective and less resource-intensive to produce. It’s also thought to be less liable to degrade over time. However is more limited and the official figure for the standard range car is 214 miles.
The Single Motor Extended Range variant uses an NMC battery with lithium, nickel, manganese and cobalt, which produces its energy more efficiently than the LFP variant. It’s more expensive but you get more range, up to 298 WLTP miles. The Twin Motor Performance version pairs that NMC battery with an additional second motor; and the performance ultimately means a drop in efficiency reducing the WLTP range to 286 miles.
We drove both large battery models on the launch and returned efficiency figures of 3.8 miles per kWh for the AWD model and 3.4 miles per kWh for the single motor model. Based on those figures, we’d expect the AWD to have a real world range of around 230 miles and the single motor to return around 260 miles. It’s worth noting, however, that while both large battery models come with a range-saving heat pump, the small battery model doesn’t.
Thanks to the EX30’s Android-based system, Google maps will automatically find you a charger when you’re running low and then take you to it while the car preconditions the battery to the right temperature. When you get to a charger the extended-range Twin Motor can accept up to 153kW, while the standard-range car has a capacity of 134kW.
Volvo EX30 performance and driving
The EX30 range comes with three different options: a Single Motor version with 270bhp and a 51kWh battery; a Single Motor Extended Range with 270bhp and a 69kWh battery and a Twin Motor Performance with 424bhp and a 69kWh battery.
The Twin Motor Performance version pairs the battery with an additional second e-motor to produce 424bhp, giving it a claimed 3.6 second 0-62 time. That’s 0.1 slower than a Tesla Model Y Performance.
To drive, the single motor version is the pick of the bunch. Only the larger battery models were available at the car’s launch, but the rear-wheel drive version is by far the more pleasing to drive. The ride quality on the standard 19-inch wheels is good and while the steering feels over-assisted, turn-in and balance are both perfectly fine. The steering comes with three ‘firmness’ options (soft, medium and firm), but there’s not much to choose between them.
In terms of regen, drivers can select a stand-alone one pedal driving mode, either via the steering wheel or the infotainment system. It works decently enough, but doesn’t have the intensity of a Hyundai, Kia or BMW system and you find yourself using the brakes a little more than expected.
The all-wheel drive model, in contrast, turns everything up to the point where it feels too much. The steering, which has to cope with an extra 100kg on the front axle, feels remote and over-assisted, while the 20-inch wheels deliver a firmer, slightly crashier ride. Volvo says that it has tried to give the AWD model the same steering feel as the single motor version, and that further software tweaks may be applied before cars reach customers. Another quirk of the AWD model is that one-pedal driving is switched off when performance mode (which permanently engages the front motor to unlock full power). This, according to Volvo, is down to different throttle mapping requirements of the two driving modes. Which is a little puzzling as plenty of other manufacturers seem able to retain one-pedal driving with drive going to both axles.
Being a Volvo, the EX30 can be fitted with an optional tow bar. As you might expect, the AWD, dual motor version also has the largest towing capacity, at 1,600kg compared to the 1,400kg of the extended range and 1,000kg for the standard model.
Volvo EX30 sustainability
Another first for the EX30 is the claim that this is the greenest car Volvo has ever made. At Electrifying.com we know that the carbon footprint of a car starts when it is built, before the owner even sits in the driver’s seat for the first time. To help highlight the issue, we put together a panel of experts to assess, scrutinise and rate car manufacturers on their overall sustainability. Those who have a strong story to tell and are going above and beyond the legal requirements are being rewarded with a Green Hero award and we’ll be assessing Volvo’s claims to see if they qualify for one.
Overall, Volvo has managed to reduce its total carbon footprint by 25 per cent compared to its other fully electric C40 and XC40 models. How have they done that? It’s a smaller car, so that means less aluminium and steel, while a quarter of the aluminium is recycled, along with 17% of the steel and 17% of the plastics. The EX30 will be built in a factory powered by climate-neutral energy and Volvo has worked with its supply chain to ensure they’re on board with the plan. They use blockchain technology in place to help trace how raw materials like lithium, manganese and cobalt are mined.
Price and running costs
In terms of price, the cheapest EX30 undercuts the cheapest Kia Niro EV by £3,500 and the Vauxhall Mokka by more than £5,000. The Single Motor Extended Range starts from £38,545, while the Twin Motor Performance model, which Volvo expects to be the most popular in the range, starts at £40,995.
Volvo EX30 Verdict
It’s fair to say that previous Volvo electric cars have been a little underwhelming. Expensive and compromised by their internal combustion engined origins, they were eccentric choices for those who wanted a Volvo rather than an exceptional electric car.
The EX30 changes all that. Competitively priced, decently equipped and with all the design qualities we’ve come to expect from Volvo, it’s a thoroughly engaging product. It’s not perfect – the interior is a little too austere in places for example – but if you’re looking for a small electric SUV, it does tick a lot of boxes.