Volvo C40 Recharge review: Style and performance overcome a major downside

One of the (probably unintended) consequences of putting us in a hybrid before the all-electric Volvo C40 Recharge is juxtaposing how satisfying a quiet and powerful pure EV powertrain can be in a premium coupe-crossover.

C40 beautiful inside and out

It’s hard to argue with the beauty and usefulness of the C40. It’s intuitive. Getting in and out is easy, it’s obvious how to do it right from the start. There’s no rattling when the doors slam, it’s a solid THOOMP.

The sloping rear roof contrasts with the boxy rear of its XC40 cousin and makes this vehicle look extremely similar to a sports car.

Ride height and visibility are excellent. On mountain roads, this thing follows the German luxury sedans. Even in the 90 degree Palm Springs heat, the glass roof didn’t let in too much sun, but it still let me know I was passing palm trees.

Every C40 on drive was the Fjord Blue with a Charcoal/Fjord interior, although there was a silver example with a plain Charcoal interior shown along the way. With 150kW or just over 200hp applied equally to the front and rear wheels, this thing starts from a standstill and is equally adept at vital 55-70mph acceleration.

The Scandinavian interior is an excellent mix of luxury, sport and minimalism. Recycled materials were just as polished as suede and leather. You would never know that a large part of the car was made up of water bottles in a past life.

Volvo C40 Refill

Android center console for automobiles

The use of Android for automobiles by Volvo and Polestar has had many successes with a few failures. If you want to use voice to control your music, maps, and even car functions like the HVAC, there’s no better option than Google’s system. Google Maps is also the go-to for mapping and finding destinations like restaurants and hotels. Google even has charging stations available by speed and provider, and it’ll tell you how much charge you’ll be using during a trip. It’s the best system I’ve used.

But when you actually need to use the center screen, it’s a bit small at nine inches diagonally. And, in my experience, it just felt a bit slow. I also had trouble logging into my Google account, which would have given me a more personalized experience. Also, when mapping, I’d like to see the Spotify song or podcast app I’m listening to. The upside is that most of these flaws, regardless of screen size, can be fixed via over-the-air updates. Google has been more aggressive than typical automakers when it comes to Android updates.

Volvo C40 Safety

Volvos are of course known for their safety and luckily I was not able to test the crashworthiness of the C40 on my ride. The Volvo C40 Recharge, however, won the IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus 2022 awards with safety features including in-car speed cap, off-road protection and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) redesigned.

frunky

The Frunk is what I would call mid-sized at 0.7 cubic feet and there’s plenty of room for things like a charging cable (pictured below) or fixing a flat kit. It is also a good secure storage for laptop bags and purses. Because it has a double door and opening isn’t as easy or obvious, I don’t think many people will use it to shop.

Volvo C40 off-road

With those big tires and seven inches of ground clearance, it was too tempting to get off the road, and the opportunity presented itself at Joshua Tree. Off the beaten path was a one mile dirt road leading to a landmark. Those big tires, AWD, 400+hp and the ground clearance plus the MacPherson front suspension all provide a very sound ride. If I’m Volvo, I’m adding an off-road component (along with a quick charge example) to future media players.

About this Volvo C40 range

I don’t understand how this car only gets 226 miles of range on the EPA scale with a 75kWh battery. I asked around what the deal was and no one seemed to have an answer. The C40 and all of Volvo’s cars use a heat pump (as you’d expect from a Swedish company) for efficient heating and cooling, so that’s not the issue.

The car rides high, has big 20 inch wheels and doesn’t look very wind resistant. But that doesn’t sound any worse than the Ford Mustang or the Hyundai Ioniq 5, both of which have a range closer to 300 miles. A Tesla Model Y with a similar battery is listed with an additional 100 miles of range, but Tesla’s estimates are… optimistic. A designer was made available for the event, but he was unaware of the C40 Recharge’s drag coefficient.

Perhaps Volvo is using an inefficient inverter/motor combination?

Anecdotally, I drove an hour from Palm Springs to Joshua Tree, which goes about 75 miles per hour (or more) with the AC on, and I was actually gaining miles of range as I went. as I rode, so I’m going to go ahead and say that Volvo is extremely conservative with their range estimates.

Volvo C40 charging DC EVgo

That said, and naming each EV “Recharge” aside, I think Volvo has a problem here. If you look at two similar EVs and one has a longer range of 50-100 miles, it’s hard to even consider the C40 or the XC40, which has an even worse range. It’s not just the range either, it’s the charging speed. The C40’s 150kW charging speed is respectable, but a half charge of 38kWh will only get you 113 miles in the Volvo compared to 165 miles in the Model Y. That means every stop is longer and it there will be many more on the trip.

Volvo would probably contradict the fact that most people don’t drive 226 miles in a week, let alone in a day, and that’s absolutely true. But for travelers and people who live in cities with street parking, apartments or condos with no access to charging, only being able to fill up to 226 miles is a pretty big downside for a 60,000 car $.

Volvo C40 recharge price and FWD option

Right now, there aren’t a ton of options for the Volvo C40 in the US. There is one body style, seven colors and two variants of the Charcoal interior, with Fjord Blue Microtech available in some colors. That is just about everything. In other markets, a lower horsepower FWD version is available at a lower price, and this variant will likely come to the United States.

Because of this, the price is pretty straightforward: $59,845 before any tax abatement or subsidy.

Find a Volvo C40 deal at a local dealership here

Volvo C40 specifications:

Propulsion:

  • 300kW (2x150kW) or 402 hp
  • Torque: 660nm
  • 0-60mph: 4.7 seconds, 0-100kph: 4.9 seconds
  • Top speed: 112mph/180kph

Battery:

  • 78 kWh capacity (75 kWh usable)
  • Constructed of 27 modules, each containing 12 lithium-ion cells (324 cells in total)
  • Configured as three stacks connected in parallel (each containing 108 series-connected 3.7V battery cells)
  • Total voltage range of 370 to 450 V

Loading:

  • 11 kW on-board charger for home/overnight charging
  • 150 kW DC fast charge. 40 mins 0-80%

Vary:

  • 226 EPA miles or 437 km WLTP

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