Even Your Car Can Be Scandi Cool

The newest and smallest fully-electric SUV to arrive in Australia brings with it a sense of Scandinavian smarts, style and simplicity.

In the world of fashion and beauty, small is rarely seen as less. We appreciate that the most significant objects in our lives often come in minute sizes. But in the automotive world, where the philosophy of ‘bigger is better” dominates, size clearly matters. “Small is a big word with a bad reputation,” Volvo CEO Jim Rowan proclaimed when Volvo released it’s new fully-electric EX30 compact SUV (pictured).

Thankfully, when it comes to cars, the tide is changing. Small is back in the spotlight, but in this instance, the EX30 comes with a promise of space as well, with designers magically masking the vehicle’s dimensions on the outside while maximising space on the inside. It’s sheer wizadry that’s paid-off beautifully in this nimble, clever electric car.  

The EX30 is the third all-electric vehicle released by Volvo since announcing its commitment to be a fully-electric car company by 2030. Though ambitious, the plan is on track, accelerated by the increasing demand for premium electric cars globally and the desire to phase out old-school combustion engine cars. Locally, the enthusiasm for next-gen vehicles is palpable from the top-down. 

“I just love electric cars,” effuses Stephen Connor, the ebullient Managing Director of Volvo Cars Australia. “They’ve made driving sexy again. I have been driving conventional cars for such a long time and frankly, I was bored. Electric cars have so many exciting features and provide so many groundbreaking opportunities. It’s made me remember what I love about driving.”

Connor says electrified cars already account for 30 per cent of Volvo sales in Australia and the figure is increasing rapidly. The first-production run of EX30s sold out in Australia and there is a waiting list for the next. In fact, the demand is so ahead of the curve, that locally, Volvo Cars Australia has set its own extraordinary benchmark of being fully-electric by 2026.

While it’s not the only player working to reframe the meaning of stylish sustainability, Volvo is one of the mainstream leaders that actively considers the car’s entire lifecycle, footprint, and material circulatory. Hence, the EX30 is full of recycled or low-impact materials. This includes some of the aluminium, steel and plastics used to build its body, and the flax, wool, discarded fishing nets and denim found inside sourced from recycling.

Gone are the hard, cheap-feeling and ugly plastics of interiors’ past, and in their place, chic, speckled, recycled hard surface materials that run along the dashboard and doors, and appear like a cross between granite and a starry night sky.

Designed to elicit a feeling of calm, clever use of functionality and safety – all hallmarks of the Chinese-owned, Swedish marque – Volvo’s designers had functionality front of mind. Freed from the space restraints that come with petrol cars, the EX30 has fantastical little hidey hole compartments for various items, a hidden dual cupholder and plenty of pockets for storage.

Rear passengers aren’t forgotten either, in fact, the central bin behind the console can even be removed for cleaning—a handy feature parents will be happy to hear, no doubt. Much of this storage function, especially in the doors, has been enabled by replacing multiple speakers with a single, but powerful soundbar, set just under the windshield.

One major shift, however, is the lack of driving instruments behind the wheel. Instead, Volvo has brought everything to the centre 12.3-inch tablet display, which is enabled with Google built-in apps. This might take getting used to at first, but its multi-window layout is quite smart. Being a Volvo, you can expect state-of-the-art safety features, though, it does have one neat party trick you can turn on which monitors speed limit signs on the road and emits a low hum when you’ve hit the speed limit. The EX30 will also alert you if it senses you’re distracted.

So what about range? Depending on which of the three variants you choose from, you can expect between 460km to 480km. We put the dual-motor variant through its speedy paces through the Adelaide Hills and were pleasantly surprised at how little range it ate through despite some spirited driving. Regardless, on a high-voltage public DC charger, the 69kWh can charge from 10 to 80 per cent in about half an hour. It’s also enabled with over-the-air updates, so just like your phone, the car continues to get better as Volvo rolls out security and software updates.  

As the quickest, most sustainable and affordable Volvo EV ever, there’s no doubt that as they start to hit our shores, the EX30 will become a charming favourite. While it may be the smallest Volvo SUV on offer, a classic Fiat 500 it’s not. It’s still around the same size as a Volkswagen T-Roc or Renault Captur.

And while it may be one of several new compact EV options arriving in Australia, this SUV is arguably one of the few to offer a compelling, clever and fashionable package. Sure, the size and price might have shrunk, compared to its sister cars, but thankfully, that doesn’t mean the Swedes have compromised on their high standards of technology, safety or style. 

The Volvo EX30 is priced from $59,990;

Related stories