Volvo EX30 is a tech lover’s dream machine

Volvo’s recently launched EX30 electric vehicle (EV) offers an impressive array of bells and whistles that will tickle the fancy of many tech lovers.

If I could describe the EX30 with one phrase, it would be “Minimalist until you get under the hood”.

I have been testing the crossover for the past few weeks and found it offers incredible features for a starting price of R775,900.

At that price point, you can get a Core model with a single motor providing 200kW and 343Nm torque, capable of accelerating from a standstill to 100km/h in 5.6 seconds.

Our particular model was the top-end Ultra variant with a 315kW/543Nm twin motor configuration and a 0–100km/h acceleration of an exhilarating 3.6 seconds.

Most of the tech-related bits of the package are available as standard on all models.

The EX30’s tech experience begins as you approach the car, which detects the proximity of your key fob and welcomes you with pleasing patterns lighting up its rear barred lights and “Thor’s hammer” headlights.

One of the Volvo EX30’s “Thor’s hammer” headlights.
EX30 rear light.

If you are uncomfortable with this setup, you can switch off the automatic locking and unlocking with proximity detection.

Instead, you can use the touch-sensitive button on the door’s handle or hold the key fob or key card against an NFC reader on the B-pillar.

Once inside, those familiar with a Tesla will likely feel instantly at home.

The Volvo EX30’s infotainment system and instrument cluster are packed into a large 12.3-inch vertical display in the centre of the dashboard.

Users will quickly realise that this is no typical tablet. It has quick response times and high brightness for trouble-free viewing throughout the day.

The Ultra model I tested has a panoramic roof, and I never had any issues seeing what was on the screen.

The main view from the driver’s seat.
Google Maps on the EX30’s display.

The top non-touch section of the display contains information such as your actual speed, speed limits, gears, battery level, estimated remaining range, and energy consumption.

The current status of your headlights, indicators, wipers, and other important components will also be shown here, alongside a render of your and other car’s positions for safe assisted driving.

The rest of the display runs a version of Google’s Android Automotive, which should not be mistaken for Android Auto.

This is not simply mirroring your smartphone, it comes with its own set of apps specially optimised for the EX30’s display and integrated with the car’s features.

The Google Maps integration is particularly good, but we also enjoyed watching video content on streaming services like YouTube.

YouTube video review of EX30 being watched on the EX30’s screen.
A handful of apps in the Google Play Store on Android Automotive for the EX30.

Users can access online services via a built-in eSIM with connectivity services supported by Volvo or by connecting to a mobile Wi-Fi router in the car.

At first, I was apprehensive about the air conditioning controls and certain important functions only being accessible on the touch screen.

However, with the built-in Google Assistant capable of adjusting fan speeds, temperature, and media playback, this was a breeze.

Thanks to the mostly-local placement of shortcuts at the bottom of the display, I quickly got used to navigating the menus as well, so calling up the assistant was not a must.

The ability to set up multiple profiles for different drivers also addressed my concerns about mirror adjustments.

Once I had set up my preferred seating position and mirror angles, this could be saved to my profile.

The EX30 also lets you link specific profiles to different keys so that the seat position and mirrors are adjusted automatically when a particular person gets into the driving seat.

Mirror adjustment is only really necessary once for each driver. Eliminating the buttons that would typically be on the doors not only gives the car a minimalist look, but saves on costs.
Voice commands can be said after hitting a button the steering wheel, touch display, or by saying “Hey, Google”.

Other features available on the screen include a 360-degree camera, with individual views for all the car’s sides and a simulated surround view.

Our model also had automatic parking assist, which scans for a parking bay and automatically manoeuvers into an identified spot.

What I found particularly useful about the proximity sensors for parking is that they include an estimated distance from obstacles within 120cm, instead of just beeping and leaving you guessing about how much space is left.

Only when you are 30cm from the obstacle does the warning beep remain constant, ensuring you can safely fit into tight spots.

Among the plethora of other tech or tech-related features we also enjoyed in the EX30 are shown in the images below.

The EX30’s Northern Light ambient lighting, one of five options.
The right stalk is used to change gears and switch on cruise control.
The angled wireless charging pad includes a rubber holding mechanism to keep your phone in place while charging. The wireless router is used for illustrative purposes. Two USB-C ports are available in the bottom centre storage area.
The air conditioner’s control screen had big buttons for navigating important features with ease, when I didn’t use Google Assistant.
A loud, high-quality Harmon Kardon sound bar underneath the windscreen stretches over the entire width of the dashboard. It can provide virtual surround sound with QuantumLogic software.
The EX30 provides precise controls for the volumes of different system sounds.
The EX30’s tyre pressure monitoring system provides real-time data.
The EX30’s settings page provides extensive configuration for numerous features.
The EX30’s trip information screen provides precise details on your energy consumption.
Solitaire is not the only game in town — it’s one of many options on the EX30.
The centre console comes with a storeable piece that can extend into two cupholders, one cupholder, two open storage spaces, or one cupholder and one open storage space. Take note that photos make piano black look much worse than in person.
Having some of the controls you would normally find in the doors in the centre takes some getting used to, but it was actually better to use my left hand for rolling the window up or down if I had to use my right to swipe for a parking ticket or to put in a PIN when visiting family in their complex. With the “Rear” button selected, you can control the back windows from the front.
The single large Harmon Kardon sound bar eliminates having to put individual speakers in the doors, enhancing the car’s minimalist character while also reducing parts and maintenance costs.

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Volvo EX30 is a tech lover’s dream machine