Volvo C40 Recharge review


What is?

It’s the inevitable: a coupe crossover from Volvo, a car surely needed to keep pace with the German Big Three (Audi, BMW and Mercedes) to which the Swedes traditionally offer a relaxing alternative.

What is perhaps less inevitable is the fact that the supremely logically named C40 (it’s a reloaded XC40 with some of the ruggedness shredded) is purely electric. Perhaps with Volvo claiming that 50% of its sales will be electric vehicles by 2025 and 100% by 2030, it shouldn’t be so surprising after all. But surely they’re missing out on some sales on purpose by not just transplanting the XC40’s many and varied engines (petrol, diesel, hybrid and electric) to its slimmer sibling.

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Especially since the numbers are dynamic for a relatively compact crossover. That’s 402bhp and a £59,000 price tag at the top end of the range, putting it firmly in the territory occupied by some successful and already well-established plug-in SUVs.

More numbers please.

There are two versions of the C40: Recharge and Recharge Twin. The first uses a single front-wheel drive motor, with an output of 231 hp and a 0 to 100 km/h time of 7.4 seconds. Underneath you’ll find a 67kWh battery (which is usable capacity) capable of a range of 269 miles. Nothing remarkable about it.

And then there is the twin. Here, a 75 kWh lithium-ion battery powers two electric motors, one on each axle, for AWD, with 201 hp each for a total of 402 hp. WLTP range is 274 miles, while 0-62 mph takes 4.7 seconds (and feels even faster). Top speed, like all new Volvos, is limited to 180 km/h.

The latter is the same powertrain you’ll find in the higher-class XC40s and Polestar 2s. Power is permanently split 50/50 between front and rear for now, without a drive mode switch to switch to a sportier mode.

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In fact, the whole experience is based on “simplicity”. That’s the right word when you ask Volvo where this car is, as the clearly related Polestar 2 occupies a similar corner of the market. The C40 is for those who are tired of being bombarded with a handful of modes and a dizzying array of buttons when they get into a car. Volvo has even hidden the start button; instead, you activate the motors simply by sitting in the driver’s seat. That’s right, you start with your temporary worker.

Fresh. What does this mean for technology?

The entire car works around a system developed with Google. Which means, surprise, there’s no Apple CarPlay functionality, at least not yet. Where phone technology quickly overtook car technology, leading to an exponential rise in the number of people simply duplicating their apps rather than relying on the automakers’ operating system, it’s Volvo that’s fighting back. the congrats.

The car runs on frequent updates, so Google Maps navigation is always up to date, including identifying which electric charging points are (or are not) busy nearby. Most of the apps you love can be downloaded in the car, streaming your dodgy Spotify playlists straight to Harmon Kardon’s booming stereo, but any particularly Apple-y sounds may need to be pumped to the speakers via Bluetooth.

Which seems a bit lo-fi for the price. In premium twin-engine form, the C40 costs £58,900; or £759 a month on Volvo’s ‘Care’ program which bundles all key maintenance items over its three-year period. Opt for the single-engine C40 in the base Core version, and you’ll see a much better starting point of £44,800.

What’s the verdict?

An electric SUV that’s beautiful to look at and fun to sit in, but at a price

The C40 looks great and has all the zen interior vibe you’d expect from a Volvo with a quiet powertrain. They say it was written with design first, and it shows. There are plenty of keys sorted out, almost all of them with a healthy, long-lasting history to back up their materials. You’ll also have complaints, almost all of which are typical of a sloped-roof SUV.

What’s holding the C40 back, for now, is that the flashy twin-engine version is much more expensive than the siblings it’s based on. On the other hand, Volvo can hardly be blamed for pitching it above £50,000 given that the Skoda Enyaq iV Coupe commits exactly the same sin.

The arrival of more affordable specs has helped soften the launch car’s hefty price tag, though you’re still paying top dollar for a car full of interior parts found on the cheaper XC40. If you want a deliberately different electric crossover where practicality steps back a bit, Sweden already has a pretty compelling one – and it’s priced at under £40,000 too. It’s called Pole Star 2…

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