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

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

C40 beautiful inside and out

It’s hard to argue with the beauty and utility of the C40. It is intuitive. Getting in and out is easy, it is obvious how to work it right from the start. There are no rattles when slamming the doors, it’s a solid THOOMP.

The sloping rear roof contrasts with its XC40 cousin’s squared rear and makes this otherwise extremely similar vehicle look more like a sports car.

The ride height and visibility are stellar. On mountain roads, this thing keeps up with German luxury sedans. Even in the Palm Springs 90 degree 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 the drive was the Fjord Blue with charcoal/Fjord interior, though there was a silver example with a plain charcoal interior shown along the way. With 150kW or just over 200hp applied equally to both the front and back wheels, this thing darts off from a stop and is equally adept at the vital 55-70mph acceleration.

The Scandinavian interior is a great mix of luxury, sport, and minimalism. The recycled materials felt every bit as polished as suede and leather. You would never know that a large part of the car was water bottles in a past life.

Volvo C40 Recharge

Android for Automobiles center stack

Volvo and Polestar’s use of Android for Automobiles is many hits with a few misses. If you want to use voice to control your music, maps, and even car functions like HVAC, there isn’t a better option out there than Google’s system. Google Maps is also the gold standard in mapping and finding destinations like restaurants and hotel options. Google even has charging stations by speed and vendor available, and it will tell you how much charge you will use during a trip. It is the best system I’ve used.

But when you actually do need to use the center display, it is a bit small at nine inches diagonal. And, in my experience, it seemed just a slight bit laggy. I also had trouble signing into my Google account, which would have given me a more personalized experience. Additionally, while mapping, I would like to see the Spotify song or podcast app I’m listening to. The upside is that most of these shortcomings, screen size notwithstanding, are fixable via over-the-air updates. Google has been more aggressive than typical car companies about Android updates.

Volvo C40 Safety

Volvos are of course known for their safety, and thankfully, I didn’t get to test out the crashworthiness of the C40 on my drive. The Volvo C40 Recharge however has earned 2022 IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus Honors with safety features, including a speed cap in cars, run-off road protection, and redesigned advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).

Frunk

The Frunk is what I’d call mid-sized at .7 Cubic feet and there is plenty of room for stuff like a charging cable (pictured below) or fix a flat kit. It also makes good secure storage for laptops bags and purses. Because it has a double door, and opening it isn’t as easy or obvious, I don’t think many people will use this for groceries.

Volvo C40 off road

With those big tires and seven inches of ground clearance, it was too tempting to go off road, and the opportunity presented itself at Joshua Tree. Off the beaten path there was a one-mile dirt road to a landmark. Those big tires, AWD, 400+hp, and ground clearance along with MacPherson front suspension all provide for a very healthy ride. If I’m Volvo, I’m adding an off-road component (as well as fast charging example) to future media drives.

About that 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 problem.

The car rides high, has large 20″ wheels, and doesn’t look terribly wind resistant. But it doesn’t seem any worse than the Ford Mustang or Hyundai Ioniq 5, which both come in with closer to 300-mile ranges. A Tesla Model Y with a similar battery pack is listed with 100 more miles of range, but Tesla’s estimates are… optimistic. A designer was made available for the event, but he wasn’t aware of what the C40 Recharge’s coefficient of drag was.

Perhaps Volvo uses an inefficient inverter/motor combination?

Anecdotally, I drove an hour from Palm Springs to Joshua Tree, which is uphill at around 75 miles per hour (or more) with the AC cranked, and I was actually gaining miles of range as I went up, so I’m going to go ahead and say that Volvo is being extremely conservative with its range estimates.

Volvo C40 charging DC EVgo

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

Volvo would probably counter with the fact that most people don’t drive 226 miles in a week, let alone a day, and that’s absolutely true. But for trips and people who live in cities with street parking, apartments, or condos without access to charging, only being able to fill to 226 miles is a pretty big downside for a $60,000 car.

Volvo C40 Recharge Price and FWD option

As of now, there aren’t a ton of options for the Volvo C40 in the US. There’s one body style, seven colors, and two variations on the Charcoal interior, with Fjord Blue Microtech available in some colors. That’s pretty much it. In other markets, a lower power FWD version is available at a lower price, and that variant will likely come to the US.

Because of this, the pricing is pretty simple: $59,845 before any tax rebates or subsidies.

Find a Volvo C40 deal at a local dealer here

Volvo C40 Specs:

Propulsion:

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

Battery:

  • 78 kWh capacity (75 kWh usable)
  • Built up of 27 modules, each containing 12 lithium-ion cells (324 total cells)
  • Configured in three parallel connected stacks (each containing 108 serial-connected 3.7V battery cells)
  • Total 370-450V voltage span

Charging:

  • 11kW onboard charger for home/overnight charging
  • 150kW DC Fast Charging. 40 mins 0-80%

Range:

  • 226 Miles EPA or 437km WLTP

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