That it looks a lot more attractive in real life than in photos. When we saw the first press images of the Volvo C40 Recharge, we thought it was just a weird thing: a bit out of proportion, like all coupé SUVs. If you stand next to it, the design works better. The roofline of the C40 is a few centimeters lower than that of the XC40 and slopes in a nice arc to a double roof spoiler (which hides the hinges of the tailgate) and a modest wing.
The hood, front fenders and doors come from the XC40, for the rest the C40 has been redrawn. If you look closely, you can see that the grille has a different shape and that in the headlights the Y-shaped daytime running lights are placed higher in the units. At the back, the gigantic light units stand out, which end in a dotted line at the top. With the XC40 the LED lamps stop at the boot lid, with the C40 they continue in it.
The powertrain that we know from the Volvo XC40 Recharge and Polestar 2 is a jewel. Two electric motors together deliver 408 hp and 660 Nm. In the official specifications you can read that the C40 Recharge sprints to 100 km/h in 4.7 seconds, but on the asphalt it feels even faster. Entirely in line with Volvo’s new policy, the top speed of the C40 has been regulated at 180 km/h. However, you don’t even want to go that fast, because at that pace your range shrinks very quickly.
The official WLTP range of the C40 Recharge is 444 kilometers. That is excellent, but difficult to achieve in practice. We would therefore like to release our range test on the latest Volvo. In February, colleague Bart took care of the XC40 Recharge and noted a fairly high consumption at a constant speed of 100 km/h, so that the actual range came to 326 kilometers.
The C40 Recharge charges with a maximum of 150 kW. This means that the 78 kWh battery (75 kWh usable) is 80 percent full again after about 40 minutes. That’s in line with the competition: the Audi Q4 E-Tron, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Skoda Eniaq iV and Volkswagen ID.4. Only the new Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 really stand out, with charging speeds of up to 220 and 240 kW.
On the road you hardly notice the monstrous weight of the C40. The battery adds hundreds of kilos to the mass of the car, putting more than 2200 kilos in the shell. By comparison, a base XC40 weighs less than 1,500 pounds. The C40 is very quiet and very comfortable. Only on pockmarked roads do you notice that the shock absorbers have to intervene abruptly to keep the fat rolls in check. Do you like enthusiastic cornering? Then the C40 is not for you.
In the interior, you sit on excellent seats and look out over the well-known XC40 dashboard. That detonates a bit with the high price of the C40 Recharge (just under 58 grand), because it is made here and there from cheap plastics. A nice C40-specific joke is the illuminated molding on the door panels and in front of the passenger, which depicts the elevation map of a Swedish mountain area.
We would always order the interior with the blue upholstery. The dashboard and seats are then dark gray, with everything underneath (the carpet, center tunnel trim and door panels) in bright blue. Obviously Volvo wouldn’t be Volvo if the cab wasn’t largely made up of recycled materials, such as old PET bottles and fishing nets. You can’t get real leather in the C40. Volvo wants to be as CO2 neutral as possible and no animal products are appropriate for that.
The sloping roofline of the C40 Recharge obviously affects the interior space, but less than you might think. If you are 1.90 meters, you will have knee room, but you will be sitting with your crown against the ceiling. Another disadvantage of the coupé form is that you can hardly look to the rear through the interior mirror and that the luggage space in the back is slightly smaller than in the XC40 (now 413 liters). In the nose of the C40 is a frunk placed, but the space in it is negligible.
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Volvo wants to make it easy for its C40 Recharge customers, we heard from all sides at the press introduction. Not too many choices, not too much stress. And so there are no riding modes (fine!), but also no gradations for the one-pedal driving system. In many electric cars you can set the degree of regeneration. Do you want the car to brake firmly when you release the power pedal, or do you want something more controlled? The Volvo has only one position: full anchor. And that severe delay is not pleasant, especially in the city.
Well, say the people at Volvo, you can turn off one-pedal driving if you are not satisfied with the operation. But it’s not that simple. For example, in an XC60 Recharge – a plug-in hybrid – you do that with the gear lever of the automatic transmission: D is off, B is on. But in the XC40 and C40 Recharge you have to dive into the infotainment system. Switching one-pedal driving on and off – because you don’t want it on the highway, for example, but you do in the city – takes three actions.
In addition, the multimedia system is not the most intuitive. It works fast, but requires too much study along the way. For a simple action such as lowering the temperature, you have to click at least twice: first to bring up the air conditioning screen and then to change the number of degrees. And all the while you don’t look at the road. You can also ask the Google Assistant to make it colder. It works well, but takes a little longer.
The delivery program of the C40 Recharge is still nice and clear. You have one motorization (408 hp and 660 Nm) and one trim level. The possibilities to make the plug-in Volvo more expensive than the starting price of 57,995 euros are therefore limited. You can choose from a number of colours, interior trims and alloy wheels. A folding towbar and privacy glass behind are the only real options.
For 56,450 euros you have the technically equal Volvo XC40 Recharge. The Polestar 2 is available with the same powertrain from 53,900 euros. In time there will also be a C40 Recharge with only front-wheel drive, a power of 231 hp and a 70 kWh battery. The XC40 Recharge is already on the market as a Single Motor and has a range of just over 400 kilometers in that version. The 0-100 time goes up by half, from 4.9 seconds for the Twin Motor to 7.4 seconds.
The C40 Recharge is an appealing electric SUV, just like the XC40 Recharge. I just find it difficult to see what exactly the C40 adds. You buy or lease it only for its eccentric appearance, because otherwise it drives and feels like an XC40. The version with two electric motors is addictively fast, but we would keep a few thousand euros in our pocket and wait for the Single Motor variant. With 231 hp you will not be short of anything.
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