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Home / Features / Driving Volvo’s priciest EX30 left me wanting the cheapest model

Driving Volvo’s priciest EX30 left me wanting the cheapest model

AWD EX30 makes sense if you’ve got deep pockets and frequently face adverse weather

Volvo EX30 winter drive lead

My first encounter with the new Volvo EX30 electric crossover was with a single motor, rear-driven car in balmy Spain; the ice and snow of Sweden, where I’ve been testing the AWD Twin Motor Performance Ultra variant, is quite the contrast. It illustrated just how handy an all-wheel drive EX30 can be – but also why the base model simply makes more sense for most drivers.

I wonder just how many UK buyers will feel they can justify the extra expense of owning the AWD Ultra model seen here. The cheapest Volvo EX30 is the £33,795 single motor edition; it does everything you’d want it to do, with excellent performance and handling. Our weather can be bad, but £10,700 bad? I’m not so sure. Especially as the one I drove was on studded tyres.

Beyond more power and all-terrain ability, there’s not much to differentiate the two models. Volvo has kept the trim options refreshingly simple, with just two to choose from. Both have a cool interior most notable for a use of recycled materials and an infotainment system that’s also home to the majority of the in-car controls.

Volvo EX30 winter drive tracking side

The exterior packs in plenty of classic Volvo-esque touches that are likely to win over existing fans, as well as new recruits to the Scandinavian way, but the interior is what stood out to me on second viewing. It improves with age, from the very comfortable seats to the hugely impressive Harmon Kardon soundbar that sits beneath the windscreen. Ultra spec cars get heated front seats and a steering wheel with no less than three different hand warming settings.

There are still a couple of issues, with the lack of switches and buttons being the most likely turn-off for some. Remember, this is a car with a digital button to tap in order to open the glovebox. I also think the addition of a head-up display would be a great way to keep better tabs on your speed.

Rear seat room is a little on the limited side too, although it’s perfectly suited to anyone with a younger family as access into the back is good. The Volvo EX30 is therefore an ideal EV for school runs and suchlike, with an easy-to-park persona adding to its appeal. Boot space is the only other area where the Volvo could be better, but it’s fine for shopping trips.

Volvo EX30 winter drive cabin

Having already driven the Volvo EX30 in warm and sunny conditions, getting into the driver’s seat for a day on snow and ice was a marked contrast. When those 20in wheels are shod with studded tyres, you can do so much more in adverse weather conditions – so much so it seems odd once you return to regular road surfaces.

Tarmac roads allow you to get the most from the 422bhp twin-motor powertrain, with performance that’s pretty mind-blowing for a relatively small car. The 0-62mph time of 3.6 seconds is rapid and can mean you’ll be breaching the legal limit sooner than you think. By contrast, the ability to sit behind the wheel and enjoy its leisurely one-pedal driving means the car can be surprisingly mild-mannered too.

When you’re sliding sideways into a bend on a track carved through the snow and with nothing to hit, switching all the driver assists off is irresistible. Switch it all back on again and it’s actually quite hard to go wrong through tight corners. The Volvo EX30’s systems are certainly clever. Again, though, quite how much value I’d get from them here in the UK remains to be seen.

Volvo EX30 winter drive rear

I wasn’t as bothered about the lack of physical switchgear as some commentators on the internet. The 12.3in multimedia display gets easier the more you use it, although it’s perfectly reasonable to see why people think it can be a distraction. This is particularly so when you just want to carry out basic tasks, but that issue comes with most screen-focused car interiors nowadays. Nevertheless, if you’re a fan of the Google-based system that dominates the navigation there’s lots to like about the screen.

Better still, I think the Volvo EX30 becomes easier to live with if you spend more time with it. While there are some niggles, like the way the driver monitoring system flags up an alert about taking a break if you happen to yawn while you’re behind the wheel and the slightly vague way the indicator stalk works, familiarity with the controls soon starts to make life easier.

Volvo EX30 winter drive front

Now that I’ve also tried the Smart #1 and the Zeeker X, both of which use the same platform, I think my overall vote goes to the Volvo EX30. It seems to have got it just right in the looks department. Having the option of a smaller Volvo also works well for the UK, where road and parking space are both at a premium.

Considering the state of our roads here in the UK and the increasingly freakish battering we get from the elements, it’s easy to see the appeal of the EX30 AWD Twin Motor Performance Ultra. That said, I have a feeling we’re going to see far more of the single motor, rear-wheel drive car on our roads, given it’s been tailored for city streets.

If you live in Sweden though, it’s got be the AWD Twin Motor Performance model every time.

Profile image of Rob Clymo Rob Clymo


Rob is a freelance motoring journalist, and contributor to Stuff magazine and Stuff.tv

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