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The 2025 Volvo EX30.Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

Car companies are chasing Tesla in the race to get electrified vehicles on the road. Volvo is no exception. The 2025 Volvo EX30, which starts at almost $60,000 for the all-wheel-drive version, is Volvo’s fourth electric vehicle and is the luxury brand’s smallest, cheapest and fastest EV to date. It’s also the most tech-heavy, adopting many design cues from Tesla.

It’s clearly evident on the inside. The cabin is sparse and minimalistic with few buttons and dials. Instead, the centrepiece is a large, vertical-oriented infotainment screen with Google built-in commanding nearly all functions – from the navigation system to the volume to the heated seats and steering wheel to the climate control system. On the doors, there are no buttons – no side-view mirror adjustments, no speaker, no door lock button and no switches to open or close the windows.

Unfortunately that makes even simple tasks unnecessarily complicated. For example, adjusting the side-view mirrors is a time-consuming and multi-step process. First, you must call up the car icon using the centre screen and then adjust the individual mirrors using the steering wheel buttons. Opening the trunk or the glovebox is also done through the centre screen. Buttons for the windows and door locks are on the centre arm rest above the sliding cup holders.

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Two cupholders slide out from under the armrest.Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

At least those icons appear at the bottom of the screen for quicker access. While it will require a learning curve, it’ll probably become like second nature over time, just like moving from an Android phone to an iPhone. Thankfully, some functions, such as adjusting the volume can be done using voice commands with the Google Assistant feature.

Essential driver information, such as speed is also located at the top of the centre screen, which can be distracting. It requires you to take your eyes off the road. Too bad there isn’t a head-up display on the driver’s windshield to impart relevant information such as the speed and navigation directions within the driver’s field of vision. Instead of individual audio speakers in the cabin, my test car had an elegant Harman Kardon sound bar that runs across the base of the dashboard; it produced excellent sound throughout the cabin when playing music on Spotify.

Where the EX30 does excel compared with Tesla is in its carbon footprint. The EX30 is made from 25 per cent recycled aluminum, 17 per cent recycled plastic and 17 per cent recycled steel. And the automaker says the overall lifetime carbon footprint of this vehicle is 25 per cent less than any other Volvo EV.

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The EX30 has no buttons on the doors. Switches to lower or raise the windows and door-lock buttons are on the centre armrest.Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

“It has our highest recycled content in the car to date. We use both natural materials and recycled materials in this car,” said Lisa Reeves, the Volvo EX30′s interior designer. One upholstery option, for example, uses waste from the denim-recycling process, while other options include an interior sewn from flax and a wool alternative made from recycled polyester.

To enter the vehicle, there’s no traditional key fob, either. Volvo uses a thin card, again similar to Tesla, to unlock and lock the doors and start the vehicle. There’s no push button start or stop function. The vehicle starts automatically when you sit in the driver’s seat and put the key on the charging pad. Engage Drive by touching the brake and turning the gear shifter on the steering wheel column to D.

There’s a choice of two electric powertrains – a single motor extended-range rear-wheel-drive with an estimated range of up to 442 kilometres and 268 horsepower and 253 lb-ft of torque, and a twin-motor performance model, with a range of up to 426 kilometres. Although it has less range, the all-wheel-drive model is quicker off the line. With 422 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque, it can hit 100 kilometres an hour in 3.6 seconds, making it the fastest Volvo ever.

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The 2025 Volvo EX30 is the luxury brand's smallest, cheapest and fastest electric vehicle to date.Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

While we drove both models on winding mountains roads and the bustling streets of downtown Barcelona, its compact size made it perfect for an urban landscape. It had a nice tight turning radius and both models had pleasant road manners; quiet, composed and similar to other EVs in its class. The graphics are cool too, displaying motorcycles and pedestrians as well as distance to other vehicles when driving in crowded areas. Both models also have a battery capacity of 69 kilowatt-hours.

When we started our drive in the single-motor version, there were 350 kilometres of range and a 96-per-cent charge on the display. After driving a little more than 150 kilometres, there was still a 52-per-cent charge and 234 kilometres of range remaining. Other EVs, such as the Tesla Model Y and the Cadillac Lyriq, offer more range, approximately 500 kilometres.

“For us, that range is on the higher end for Volvo,” said Michael Cottone, president of Volvo Car USA and Canada. “We see it as a very competitive range on the car. And for the value and the price of the car versus the range and everything you get inside, you get a well-packaged vehicle.”

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The front trunk is really only big enough to fit the charging cable.Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

In Canada, Volvo is on a roll, with sales up 18 per cent year-over-year in 2023, owing largely to the company’s plug-in hybrids and pure electric lineup, Cottone said.

The 2025 Volvo EX30 single-motor extended range model starts at $53,700, before federal and provincial rebates, where applicable; while the twin-motor performance trim starts at $59,900. The vehicle will be made in China at Volvo’s parent company, Geely’s Zhangjiakou plant and at the Ghent plant in Belgium from 2025. It will be available in Canada in the first quarter of 2024.

Tech specs

2025 Volvo EX30

  • Base price: $53,700 (plus $2,000 for freight and predelivery inspection)
  • Motors: Single-motor extended range or twin-motor performance
  • Battery capacity: 69 kilowatt-hours (64 kWh usable)
  • Charging time: Level 2 – seven to eight hours; DC fast charger with charging capacity of up to 153 kilowatts – from 10 to 80 per cent in 26 minutes
  • Horsepower/torque (lb-ft): rear-wheel drive – 268/253; all-wheel drive – 422/400
  • Claimed range: Up to 442 kilometres (single motor); up to 426 kilometres (twin motor)
  • Alternatives: Tesla Model Y, Mercedes-Benz EQB, Audi Q4 e-tron, Polestar 2, Genesis GV60, Cadillac Lyriq
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The large centre touchscreen is used to control nearly everything.Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

Looks

This is the new electric face of Volvo, complete with a painted front end, an updated take on the brand’s signature “Thor’s Hammer” lights and funky, cool, futuristic wheels. A boring palette of exterior colours – white, light silver and dark grey – were on hand, but the EX30 does come in more expressive and bolder shades, including Cloud Blue and Moss Yellow.

Interior

Very clean and minimalistic design with the focus on the large centre touchscreen. There’s no knob or dial for the volume or a Start/Stop button to start the vehicle. Switches to lower or raise the windows and door lock buttons are on the centre armrest, as well as two cup holders that slide out when needed and disappear when not in use to free up space. The rear seats offer good head room, but in the back, legroom is a bit tight.

Performance

Both electric motors feel powerful and solid. There’s not much difference in the ride and handling compared to other EVs. The dual motor with its 422 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque has lower range, but more guts when you nail the throttle, especially in Performance mode.

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Adjusting the side-view mirrors is a time-consuming and multi-step process. First you navigate to that part on the screen then use the steering wheel buttons to make the adjustment.Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

Technology

As expected from Volvo, there are plenty of safety features and new technology, including over-the-air software updates, wireless Apple Car Play and Android Auto, and a new-generation semi-autonomous parking feature, which can help with parking in parallel, perpendicular, curved and diagonal fishbone-style spots.

Cargo

The rear cargo space is respectable with 400 litres. The front trunk is tiny with only 71 litres of space (without the repair kit). There’s only room for the charging cables.

The verdict

The EX30 is Volvo’s best EV to date with a respectable price tag and a nice, compact and practical size. But getting familiar with the technology and user experience will take patience and time for customers new and old.

The writer was a guest of the automaker. Content was not subject to approval.

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