Volvo C40 Recharge Review
Currently, finding a car is like getting a coffee on the high street. There are so many more variants than you realised, let alone cared about.
Gone are the days when a manufacturer would make a small, medium, and large car. Now there are small, medium and large SUVs, too. Plus, crossovers, Grand Tourer versions and coupe off-shoots.
And now it’s Volvo’s turn.
Select's rating score* - 3.6 / 5
At a Glance
Where the C40 differs is that the roofline has had a shave, so it's sort of coupe shaped now. And that's pretty much it.
So, while the XC40 retains the responsible, pragmatic sensibleness of an SUV, the C40 Recharge is the cooler, slightly rebellious sibling. Of course, the same gene pool exists, but the C40 comes with a designer t-shirt and funky shoes.
There are a few cosmetic changes to the C40 compared with the XC40. The side skirts are chunkier, and the front spoiler is more angular, increasing the sporty looks.
At the front, the lack of a main grille means a body-coloured panel replaces it. While the lower grille beneath the number plate has diagonally angled pillars on either side, giving the car a more aggressive stance. Indentations on either side provide space for the front fog lights.
Despite the grille (or lack of) grabbing your attention, the C40 still looks unmistakably like a Volvo. The headlights are a rounded triangular shape, featuring Volvo’s ‘Thor’s Hammer’ styling (yes, that is the actual design name) – so-called as the lights resemble a hammer shape when illuminated.
At the side, there are more indentations towards the bottom of the door. And the roof gradually angles down from the driver’s seat backwards, providing the coupe-like appearance, helped by a chunky spoiler overhanging the rear window.
The posterior of the C40 is minimalist but stylish, and the taillights seem like they’re swept around from the sides of the car. This is thanks to a modest ‘swoosh’-like effect, with tails at the top and bottom of the lights continuing into the middle of the boot lid. The name 'VOLVO' is spelt out with spaced-out letters, with plenty of room above the lower-down rear number plate. Mind you; there’s no Volvo badge on display.
Volvo is all about simplicity. That’s not to say that the automaker is lacking. It’s just that it’s a company that prides itself on not overcomplicating things unnecessarily.
As such, there’s one trim (called Twin Pro) and one electric motor to choose from – for now, at least.
The powertrain is a dual-motor producing 408PS.
The Twin Pro trim gets you 20-inch black alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, and a heat pump (for quickly heating or cooling the cabin). It also comes with heated front, and rear seats (which, in the front, are electronic with multi-directional lumbar support and memory function for the driver), a heated steering wheel, hill descent control and automatic pixel LED headlights. You also get tinted rear side windows, a headlight cleaning system, automatic folding and heated door mirrors, a panoramic glass sunroof and electric windows.
But don't hold your breath because there's more. The C40 also houses a Harman Kardon Dolby Surround Sound system, a DAB radio, Google apps, navigation (with Google Maps) and voice recognition. A 12.3-inch driver display and a nine-inch centre console touchscreen, a wireless phone charger, a 360-degree surround-view parking camera, an electric tailgate and keyless entry and go also come fitted as standard.
The pure electric Volvo even includes a parking permit holder on the A-pillar inside the car, so the traffic wardens won’t miss the fact that you’ve paid.
That’s a lot – and it doesn’t even include any of the safety features, which we’ll come on to later.
You may have spotted that we didn't mention Android Auto. It doesn't need it, as the whole infotainment system is Google-based – and that's excellent news. Apple CarPlay will be added later, we’re told.
We are expecting a single-motor, two-wheel-drive version at some point. This model will increase the range at the cost of performance, but it’s unconfirmed at present. The XC40 also has a lower-powered version, which has 231PS and a range of 261 miles.
Range & Batteries
The battery is 75kWh with a claimed range of 273 miles.
Range figures tend to be significantly lower in the real world. On our test route, which encompassed some driving around town, some twisty turns in the countryside and then a higher-speed run on a dual-carriageway, showed we were on course to achieve around 200 miles.
Essentially, the faster you go, the more power you’ll be using. So, if most of your driving is done in lower speed scenarios, you may well get more than we managed to - as long as you’re not sitting in queues all day.
Nevertheless, the claimed range figures are lower than the numbers quoted by most rivals. For example, Audi's Q4 e-Tron Sportback claims up to 316 miles, while the Ford Mustang Mach-E returns a mightily impressive 379 miles.
However, the C40 does beat the Skoda Enyaq, which only has a stated range of 256 miles. Mind you, there are other versions of the Enyaq that can get as far as 331 miles, including a four-wheel-drive version that beats the C40 by about 40 miles.
Performance & Drive
When you set off, you'd better hope there isn't a corner within the next hundred yards or so. Lightning-quick isn't the phrase. Nought to 62mph is dealt with in just 4.7-seconds, and, given the size of the vehicle, it feels even quicker.
Such incredible acceleration is hardly necessary in an SUV, but then you won’t hear us complaining. On the contrary, it makes it more fun, plus it also means overtaking is a doddle.
Driving around town is fine once you get used to the ferociousness of the electric motor, while the soft suspension setup makes it a comfortable cruiser at low speeds.
There is a sense that the suspension has been softened to offset the harshness of the larger wheels, though, which make bumps in the road noticeable. The suspension undoubtedly tries to cushion the impact. At higher speeds, you'll appreciate the comfort, but at lower rates of pace, you may notice the bumpiness a bit more.
Admittedly, some of the driving enjoyment is taken away by the C40’s steering. It is very light, and there's not much feedback as a result. This makes it easy to drive around tight bends in a town centre but less engaging at higher speeds, or when trying to find the car’s limits in corners on a decent road.
Speaking of corners, there is a bit of body roll if you try and take a bend too quickly, which is to be expected given this is an SUV. It isn’t excessive, though, and the Volvo grips the road well, but you couldn’t call the handling athletic.
As a result of the electric motor, you only have tyre and wind noise for accompaniment – this is more noticeable due to the lack of an engine note, but it isn’t excessive.
One-pedal driving is possible, too. This comes from the regenerative braking, which, when turned up fully, will slow the vehicle to a stop when you take your foot off the accelerator pedal. The friction and heat generated from this are then utilised to put some charge back into the batteries. It takes you a while to get used to it, but it will eventually feel more natural.
The C40 supports rapid charging up to 150KW, so you can top it up from 10 to 80 per cent in 40 minutes.
You will find rapid charging points hard to come by at the moment in the UK, though, but the numbers are on the increase. Charging the Volvo from empty to full on a 7kW home-charging system will take around 12 hours.
If you choose to go without and charge from a regular wall plug, you'll find it takes around 38 hours. This might suit those who drain the battery going to and from work in the week and then don't do very much on weekends. But if you have plans on a Saturday and Sunday, then you’ll be wanting the home-charging kit.
If you will be home charging a lot, making sure you’re on the best possible energy tariff is essential to keep the costs as low as possible.
Running Costs & Emissions
Of course, you won’t need to worry about emissions because the C40 doesn’t release any.
Those worried about the CO2 emissions used in manufacturing the car can look to the C40’s interior for inspiration. There is no leather, as Volvo is concerned about the environment. Therefore, that sets the tone nicely for the automaker’s attitude towards producing green vehicles.
There is no road tax to pay either, which is a nice bonus.
And just for your info, the C40 is protected by a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty, while a separate eight-year guarantee covers the battery. This shows Volvo's faith in its all-new electric offering.
Interior & Technology
On the inside, simple is the theme again, as the philosophy of minimalism continues.
The cabin looks classy, roomy – and very blue. Our test model features what Volvo calls ‘Fjord Blue’, which covers much of the interior, including the door trims. It brings the interior alive with personality – and there’s no extra charge for it, either.
As we alluded to earlier, the interior is vegan-friendly – you’ll find no real leather anywhere inside.
The Google-designed infotainment system is easy to use, too. It is responsive to the touch and has the attention to detail and usability you’d expect from the internet giant. It even features its voice assistant, which can be summoned by shouting ‘Hey Google’. The system updates itself and, iPhone fans concerned they’ll be left out by the Android-dominated system can rest easy, too. As we said earlier, Apple CarPlay isn't included yet but will be added via an automated update soon.
On the dashboard, there are trim inserts with patterns that Volvo says are inspired by the mountains of Sweden.
The only problem is that specific settings in the car are all buried in sub-menus. This is fine for things you’ll want to adjust while stationary, but it’s far trickier when it comes to something you might want to adjust on the move.
Practicality & Boot Space
There is plenty of space in the front, so you don’t feel hemmed in or claustrophobic.
The seats are sporty in appearance, comfortable, and offer loads of support. There is also a decent amount of headroom for taller drivers.
The same can’t be said about the rear, however. Legroom is acceptable, but the sloping roofline, which is the main distinguishing feature between the C40 and the XC40, limits headroom. Anyone over about six feet tall will be cursing you for choosing aesthetics over practicality.
In terms of storage spaces, there are lots of places to put things, with amply sized door bins and a roomy cubby hole underneath the central armrest. Plus, there are two cupholders in the rear armrest, which folds out of the middle seat when it’s not in use.
A high driving position will help to laud it over other road users, but, sadly, the biggest problem is rear visibility. The sloping roofline means the rear windscreen is more angled and narrower. Added to the overhang of the rear spoiler, it results in your view being severely restricted. Thankfully, there's a 360-degree camera that will help when backing into tight spaces. This is a relief as it’ll be heavily relied upon when reversing.
On the plus side, there is a reasonably sized boot at 414-litres, expanding to 1,205-litres with the rear seats put down, which fold away in a 60/40 split configuration. The boot opens as a hatchback, so fitting larger items in is simple enough, while the tailgate can be opened via a sensor. This is activated by waving your foot beneath the rear bumper, so you don’t need to put your shopping down on a wet, dirty car park floor to open it up.
Thanks to the lack of an engine, you’ll also get 31-litres of storage space in the front underneath the bonnet, which helps make up for some of the shortfall.
It earned a five-star rating, scoring 97 per cent for adult occupants, 87 per cent for children and 76 per cent for safety assists.
Volvos are among the safest cars on the road, so there should be no concerns whatsoever.
The C40 is also packed to the rafters with safety gadgetry. Technology includes pedestrian and cyclist detection, front collision warning with auto brake, stability and traction control. You also get vehicle deceleration control, electronic brake distribution and emergency brake assist, run off-road mitigation, run-off-road protection and road sign information display.
In addition, the Volvo comes with hill-start assist, hill descent control, a tyre pressure monitoring system and driver assistance (pilot assist and adaptive cruise control). Other tech encompasses a blind spot information system with steer assist, cross-traffic alert with auto brake and rear collision warning and mitigation, driver alert control with lane-keeping aid and oncoming lane mitigation.
Goodness. It’s a wonder the C40 moves at all with so much safety tech included. Maybe that’s why it’s so safe?
In keeping with the minimalist feel, the options list is simple. And bare.
There's one item on it. It’s a retractable towbar.
And… that’s it. Oh, but you can downgrade the alloys to 19-inches if you prefer.
In terms of customising, the C40 Recharge comes in a solid ‘black stone’ colour.
Refreshingly, metallic colours are offered at no extra cost, which Volvo should be applauded for, as this can sometimes be an option creeping towards four figures on some vehicles. There is Fusion Red, Thunder Grey, Fjord Blue and Silver Dawn. Or, you can choose from the two premium metallic colours of Crystal White and Sage Green.
There are a few choices for interior colours, too, all of which are offered at no extra cost.
The other contender we haven’t mentioned yet is the Mercedes EQA, which is worthy of your attention, too.
Verdict & Next Steps
Overall, the Volvo C40 Recharge is a solid contender. It looks classy on the inside and outside, goes like hell and is comfortable and easy to drive. Plus, we’ve never seen such a comprehensive list of safety systems on a car.
On the downside, the performance might be too ferocious for some, and it's not the most engaging car to drive. What's more, the rear visibility is very limited, and other SUVs can go further on a full charge.
Nevertheless, overall, Volvo has done an excellent job, and the C40 Recharge is well worth serious consideration.
You just might want to consider its sibling, the XC40 Recharge, if you’re going to be reversing a lot.
Where to next?
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*Score based on Select’s unique meta score analysis, taking into account the UK’s top five leading independent car website reviews of the Volvo C40