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In-depth reviews

Volvo EX30 review – an impressive budget EV

“The Volvo EX30 is a lot of electric SUV for the price you’d expect to pay for a petrol-powered Volvo”

Carbuyer Rating

3.8 out of 5

Owners Rating
Be the first to review
Price
£33,795 - £44,495

Pros

  • Well-priced
  • Comfortable to drive
  • Reasonable range

Cons

  • Key features hidden in submenus
  • Tight rear seats
  • Small boot

Verdict - Is the Volvo EX30 a good car?

We really like the Volvo EX30, and that’s mainly because it's an all-electric model that offers so much for the kind of price you’d expect to pay for a petrol-powered small SUV. Aside from its eco-friendly credentials, based on the electric powertrain and extensive use of sustainable materials, the EX30 is fun-to-drive, well-built and its styling will be a hit with many buyers. Top versions also offer serious performance, but we just wish the infotainment setup was more user-friendly.

Volvo EX30 models, specs and alternatives

The Volvo EX30 is the Swedish brand’s smallest car, and its entry-level EV. There’s no doubt that electric cars are still expensive, but automakers are very quickly racing to offer ever more affordable EVs to bring sustainable motoring to the masses. Although the Volvo EX30 is only available from launch in mid-range Plus and top-spec Ultra trims starting from under £34,000, an entry-level Core model will come later, costing a very reasonable £31,000.

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That means it undercuts most of the established EVs in its class, including the excellent Hyundai Kona Electric that starts from £35,000.

Despite being Volvo’s entry-level electric vehicle, the EX30 feels rather premium, and although the looks are subjective, we think its styling is attractive, too.

There’s a choice of two batteries: a 51kWh unit with a range of up to 214 miles, and a 69kWh battery that gets an official range figure of 298 miles. Charging speeds for the EX30 are competitive – with up to 153kW charging on 69kWh battery models (134kW speeds for the 51kWh battery version), a fast enough public charger can manage a 10 to 80% top-up in under half an hour.

The lesser models also get a single rear-mounted motor capable of 268bhp, and there’s an all-wheel drive dual-motor model with 422bhp, though the former will be more than enough for most drivers – we’d expect most sales to come from the single-motor model with the larger battery.

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Our European test drive of the EX30 in single-motor guise revealed it to be a lot of fun for a small SUV – in fact, it could well be one of the best-handling Volvos we’ve driven in a while. The extra performance of the all-wheel drive, dual motor model we’ve now driven in the UK seems almost unnecessary unless you really have to have the quickest acceleration time, or fancy an alternative to more extrovert hot hatchbacks. The single-motor version felt more than peppy enough in urban and motorway driving. Features like one-pedal driving mean the Volvo EX30 can be extremely simple to drive when you want it to be.

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The Volvo EX30 has a few EV rivals including the Smart #1 – with which it shares many of its underpinnings – the Kia Niro EV, Hyundai Kona Electric, Renault Megane E-Tech, Peugeot E-2008 and Jeep Avenger. There’s also the elephant in the room in the shape of the well-established Tesla Model 3. It’s not an SUV but the Model 3 now starts from just under £40,000, making it only slightly more expensive than the EX30 with the 69kWh battery in Plus trim. 

Trim levels

Power options

  • Plus
  • Ultra
  • Single Motor rear-wheel drive (268bhp)
  • Twin Motor Performance all-wheel drive (422bhp)

Volvo EX30 alternatives

The Volvo EX30 finds itself in one of the most competitive classes of the moment, with almost every mainstream manufacturer clamouring to launch or bolster its small electric SUV offering. The Jeep Avenger and Hyundai Kona Electric are particularly strong rivals, with the latter being more practical than the Volvo, but the EX30 is very competitively priced.

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Range, charging & running costs

“Very decent range and all versions have impressive DC fast-charging speeds.”

There are three versions of the EX30. The first of them is the base Single Motor model, which has a 268bhp motor on the rear axle, fed by a 51kWh (49kWh usable) battery. Official figures give it a potential range of 212 miles, and it can charge at up to 134kW, which, if you can find an appropriately powered DC public rapid charger, can give you a 10-80% top-up in 26 minutes.

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Then there’s the Single Motor Extended Range model. This has the same motor and drive configuration, but that’s fed by a larger 69kWh (64kWh usable) battery. This gives an official range of 298 miles, and there’s also a slightly faster maximum charging speed of 153kW. So, a punchy enough DC rapid charger can give the bigger battery a 10-80% boost in around the same time as it takes to charge the smaller one to the same level.

Lastly, there’s the Twin Motor Performance version, which has considerably more power than the other two EX30s thanks to the additional motor on the front axle. It has exactly the same battery and charging speed as the Extended Range model, but its extra oomph means that its potential range drops to 286 miles, and while our first UK drive was too short to get a full picture of its range, we suspect it will be tricky to hit its official figure if you make use of its acceleration often.

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We’ve driven the EX30 on the international launch in Barcelona, so we’ll have to wait to conduct more extensive tests back in the UK before we can get an accurate picture of the likely real-world range of the car. The two versions with the bigger battery get a standard heat pump, which should improve range in cold weather thanks to more efficient cabin heating. Still, it’s a bit strange Volvo didn’t include this on the entry-level car, which arguably needs it more.

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Because the EX30 is and electric car, you pay no Vehicle Excise Duty (VED, or road tax), which will save you thousands when you buy, and a useful chunk each year. You’re also exempt from congestion charges and ULEZ restrictions.

Model 

Battery size

Range

Single Motor

51kWh (49kWh usable)

214 miles

Single Motor Extended Range

69kWh (64kWh usable)

287 – 296 miles

Twin Motor Performance

69kWh (64kWh usable)

277 – 279 miles

Insurance

Insurance groupings for the Volvo EX30 are yet to be released, but electric models tend to sit in fairly high groups compared to equivalent petrol models.

Electric motor, drive & performance

“Really perky performance and an impressively comfortable ride.”

It’s fair to say that the EX30 is one of the best Volvos we’ve driven in a while. It’s got that easy-going nature common to many EVs where you just press the throttle and it goes, there’s little else to worry about. The baby Volvo delivers this trait and feels very polished in most other regards as well. 

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The powerful acceleration on offer is quite addictive when you first get into the car, but it’s also genuinely useful in the urban environments that the EX30 has been designed for. Pulling out of junctions and darting through gaps in traffic is never an issue with that kind of performance on tap. The high-up driving position and excellent all-round visibility help with the enjoyment, too.

The one-pedal driving function is also up with the best we’ve tried on a car of this size. It feels very natural, once you’re used to how the car slows when you lift off the accelerator. 

The ride quality is really well-judged. During our first test drive, the EX30 felt supple on the roads of our test route, which were in and around Barcelona. It walks a fine line between delivering a comfortable ride for passengers and avoiding the body roll in corners that often affects softly-sprung cars. We’ve since been able to get behind the wheel on British roads, and the EX30 feels sophisticated in a way that’s lacking in the Smart #1, with a firm feel that manages to avoid being harsh and good balance, even in wet conditions.

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Aside from the acceleration, don’t go thinking that the EX30 feels in any way like a sports car – it doesn’t. The steering is set up for ease of use and precision rather than feel and feedback – which is perfect for the typical user of a small SUV.

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Yes, the Twin Motor version is even more powerful than the single-motor cars, but in truth, it isn’t as sweet to drive: that fact that the front axle has more than just steering and braking to do upsets the balance of the car slightly, and the ride is a little bit firmer, as well.

0-62mph and top speed

Model 

Power

0-62mph

Top speed

Single Motor

268bhp

5.7 seconds

112mph

Single Motor Extended Range

268bhp

5.3 seconds

112mph

Twin Motor Performance

422bhp

3.6 seconds

112mph

The entry-level Single Motor car has a 268bhp motor on its rear axle, allowing it to get from 0-62mph in 5.7 seconds. The Single Motor Extended Range version uses the same motor, but manages the same sprint slightly more quickly at 5.3 seconds. Both these versions have a top speed of 112mph.

As the name suggests, the Twin Motor Performance model has an additional motor on the front axle, giving it four-wheel drive and increased performance. The total output of this version stands at 422bhp, allowing it to crack the 0-62mph sprint in just 3.6 seconds. Yes, it feels quicker than its single-motor siblings, but those will still be plenty pokey enough for the vast majority of buyers.

Interior & comfort

“Feels like a premium product from start to finish, despite affordable price and recycled cabin materials.”

The EX30 has all the typically Swedish design features we’ve come to expect from Volvo, including the same ‘Thor’s Hammer’ headlight signature worn by all the firm’s other cars. The baby SUV also has characteristically proud shoulders along the flanks and high-set two-part vertically arranged rear lights. 

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There’s no front grille so the Volvo emblem is stamped into a body-coloured moulding, while darker panels along the sills match the contrasting roof to hide the car’s upright stance. It’s a premium-feeling car that’s likely to be attractive in the eyes of many buyers. A choice of five paint colours is available.

There’s a strong sustainability story when it comes to all the materials used in the EX30; Volvo says the car contains 25% recycled aluminium, 17% recycled steel and 17% recycled plastic.

There are four ‘room’ themes to choose from inside, each using different textures, colours and sustainable materials. We drove two cars, one with panels across the doors and dashboard that were made from recycled PVC window frames, and one with a warmer textile made from recycled denim.

Don’t go worrying that this approach gives the cabin some sort of low-budget, make-do-and-mend feel, though: it’s all very tastefully done, and there are certainly no quibbles over the quality of the materials. Even the plastics across the top of the dashboard and around the centre console are nicely grained.

As is becoming more and more fashionable these days, the EX30 takes Volvo's ever-deepening obsession with minimalist interior design to new heights. There’s a large touchscreen - we’ll come onto this in more detail shortly - that handles, well, pretty much everything, so the dashboard is more or less free of external switches. Even opening the centrally-mounted glovebox lid requires an on-screen input.

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A few of the switches that remain are positioned in odd places, too. The electric window switches are on the centre console rather than on the doors where you expect to find them, and the doors have no external mirror adjusters, either: repositioning those requires delving into a couple of menus and then pressing buttons on the steering wheel, which is a monumental faff.

Even more surprising for safety-conscious Volvo is that there’s no instrument panel directly in front of the driver. The driving instrumentation has also been integrated into the central screen, meaning you have to glance left to keep an eye on your speed.

Infotainment and navigation

As we’ve said, the EX30’s central infotainment display, which is 12.3 inches in size, takes care of almost every function in the car. Predictably, this can make the system rather bamboozling to use, simply due to the sheer amount of menus and submenus you need to wade through to perform the simplest of tasks. Sure, it looks swish, but that swishness has definitely come at the expense of useability, and some core controls like the rear window demister are much better served with a physical button.

As is the norm now with Volvo, the touchscreen is Google-powered, so the mapping is neat, the voice control works well, while Apple iPhone users can connect CarPlay wirelessly. Interestingly, you won’t find stereo speakers dotted around like in most other cars. Volvo has worked with Harman Kardon to put a seven-speaker soundbar into the car just beneath the windscreen, similar to those so popular in-home cinema set-ups. It works really well, with a nice depth to the sound and plenty of power, too. We reckon this is something that other car makers are sure to replicate in the future.

Key features

Plus

  • Dual-zone climate control
  • Heated front seats
  • Heated steering wheel
  • 12.3-inch infotainment screen
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay
  • Harman Kardon premium sound system
  • Wireless smartphone charging
  • Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Powered tailgate
  • LED headlights with high-beam assist
  • Reverse camera
  • Front and rear parking sensors

 

Ultra

(Plus plus…)

  • 360-degree parking camera
  • Park Pilot Assist autonomous parking
  • Panoramic sunroof
  • 20-inch alloy wheels
  • Power adjustable front seats
  • Driver’s seat and door mirror memory function
  • 3-phase 22kW onboard charger 

Practicality & boot space

“Volvo’s smallest car is predictably tight on cabin space, and the boot is small, too.”

Not only is the EX30 Volvo’s smallest SUV, it’s also a good bit smaller than any of the smallest electric SUV offerings from rival ‘premium’ manufacturers. At 4,233mm long, it’s around 30cm shorter than the Audi Q4 E-Tron, and around 25mm shorter than the Mercedes EQA and Lexus UX 300e. In fact, it’s very similar in size to the internal combustion engined Volkswagen T-Roc.

Fairly inevitably, this small footprint does result in rather limited space in the five-seat cabin, especially in the rear seats. They’ll be fine for occasional use, but if the driver is above average height, space behind them is tight for feet and knees – it’s in a similar ballpark to the Jeep Avenger. Putting a sizeable child seat in the back might be tricky, too, although the doors do open reasonably wide and headroom is pretty reasonable.

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Plenty of thought has gone into cabin storage. There’s a deep tray between the driver and front passenger (where there’s also wireless phone charging) and cup holders slide out of the centre armrest, one at a time. The door bins are also massive, partly thanks to the fact that the soundbar means there are no speakers in the doors.

The minimalist design also allows the glovebox to be mounted centrally, so that it’s easily accessible by both the driver and the front passenger. It took us a while to find the opening though – it’s on the touchscreen, like most everything else. The charging flap is found on the left-hand rear wing of the car.

Size comparison

Model 

Length

Width

Height

Volvo EX30

4,233mm

2,032mm

1,555mm

Polestar 2 hatchback

4,606mm

1,985mm

1,473mm

Smart #1

4,270mm

1,822mm

1,636mm

MG4

4,287mm

1,836mm

1,516mm

Boot space

The boot has 318 litres of space, which isn’t exactly huge, especially when you consider that the near-identically sized VW T-Roc has 455 litres.  It does have a sensibly square shape, though, and with the false floor in, there’s barely any load lip. That false floor also gives you somewhere to hide your charging cables away, or alternatively, you can stick them in the EX30’s froot (which is the correct term, we think, for a front boot rather than frunk!)

Another purpose of the false floor is to level off the step to the rear seats when you fold them down, and doing so gives you 904 litres of space to play with. However, the seats fold in a 60/40 split, which isn’t as versatile as the 40/20/40 split found in some rivals.

Boot space comparison

Model 

Boot space

Volvo EX30

318 litres

Polestar 2

405 litres

Smart #1

421 litres

MG4

363 litres

Reliability & safety

“Reliability is uncertain, but being a Volvo, safety is likely to be top-notch.”

Accurately predicting the reliability of any brand-new car is extremely difficult, because there’s little data to go by. As a brand, Volvo finished a creditable 13th in our 2023 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, a slight slip from eighth the year before. However, reliability wasn’t one of the areas in which the Swedish brand particularly impressed, with 27% of owners reporting some form of fault within their first year of ownership. These were mostly electrical and combustion engine issues which, for an electric car, are worrying and not worrying in equal measure.

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The EX30 is built on the same SEA (Sustainable Experience Architecture) platform that underpins a number of models from Volvo’s owners, Chinese company Geely, and that includes the forthcoming Smart #1. You’d hope that with such investment in the architecture, Geely would've taken the time to get it right. The car will be built in China initially, but production will be moved to Ghent in Belgium from 2025.

As well as feeling suitably posh, the cabin also feels sturdy and solid, so it should stand the test of time well. However, Volvo’s three-year, 60,000-mile warranty is the bare minimum any new car buyer should expect.

Safety

Being a Volvo, anyone who finds themselves in an EX30 can expect it to be an immensely safe car. Pretty much every driver aid you expect is present and correct, along with a few you might not. This being an urban-focused Volvo, the EX30 comes with a suite of systems – known as Safe Space Technology – that’s designed to improve safety in such an environment. This includes front and rear cross-traffic alert (which warns the driver of other vehicles approaching at either end of the car that they might not be able to see, and applies the brakes automatically if no action is taken), and door opening alert (which gives visual and audible warnings if someone attempts to open a door into the path of a cyclist or other road user.

The EX30 hasn’t yet been crash-tested by Euro NCAP yet, but every Volvo that has been since 2001 has achieved the full five stars, and although the tests are more difficult to ace than ever before, we’d be staggered if the EX30 didn’t follow suit.

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Which Is Best?

Cheapest

  • Name
    200kW Single Motor Plus 51kWh 5dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £32,940

Most Economical

  • Name
    200kW SM Extended Range Plus 69kWh 5dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £37,690

Fastest

  • Name
    315kW Twin Motor Performance Plus 69kWh 5dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £40,140
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