In-depth reviews

Volvo C40 Recharge review

The latest addition to Volvo’s zero-emissions line-up offers big performance and those increasing popular coupe-SUV looks, but the C40’s £57,400 price tag and sub-300-mile range can’t be overlooked

Overall rating

3.5 out of 5

Pros

  • Coupe-esque looks
  • Performance
  • Infotainment

Cons

  • Range compared to rivals
  • Expensive at launch
  • Reduction in practicality
Car typeRangeWallbox charging timeRapid charge time
Electric273 miles12hrs (0-100%, 7.4kW)40mins (0-80%, 150kW)

Volvo has several new electric models lined up, including the zero-emissions successor its flagship XC90 as well as a new baby electric SUV, with the Swedish already declaring it’s plan to transition to electric-only brand by 2030. In the meantime, this is the C40 Recharge: Volvo’s first standalone electric car and the more rakish coupe-SUV sister car to the XC40 Recharge that went on sale in 2020.

The C40 Recharge rivals a wide range of models, including the Ford Mustang Mach-E, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Polestar 2, Tesla Model 3 and Model Y, as well as the Sportback variant of the Audi Q4 e-tron, and the Volkswagen ID.5.

It uses the same platform as the electric XC40 Recharge and Polestar 2, as well as the same dual-motor setup, producing 402bhp, that you find in the fastest versions of both models. 0-62mph takes just 4.7 seconds. It’s the only powertrain option for the C40 right now, with a single-motor version to arrive in time.

The motors are fed by a sizable 78kWh battery, which according to Volvo will provide enough juice to cover 273 miles on a single charge – around 30 miles more than the equivalent XC40 Recharge’s range. However, that’s less than the forthcoming Volkswagen ID.5 GTX will cover, while the all-wheel-drive extended range version of the Mustang Mach-E, that matches the C40 Recharge for performance and price, gets a 335-mile range.

The C40 does get rapid charging capabilities like its rivals though. At the car's maximum charging speed of 150kW, the battery will be replenished from 0 to 80% capacity in 40 minutes, while a full charge from a regular 7.4kW home wallbox takes around 12 hours to complete.

But perhaps it will be the familiarity of the Volvo badge and the C40’s close relationship to the XC40 SUV, with the addition of its sportier styling, that will attract buyers most strongly. The footprint of the C40 on the road is the same as its conventional SUV sibling, though it does get plenty of surfacing and detailing changes compared to that car, as well as the new rakish coupe-like roofline.

Inside though, the C40 is extremely similar to the XC40 it’s based on, although you won’t find any leather in the cabin as this is the first Volvo model to do away with cowhide. Up front, there’s a nine-inch infotainment touchscreen running Android Automotive software with Volvo graphics. It features direct integration of Google’s apps and mapping, which is paired with an updated 12-inch digital driver’s display, too. The new system is a welcome addition to Volvo’s models, and is also neatly organised, which is good given that you’ll be relying on it. The C40 doesn’t support Apple CarPlay at launch, but it is coming in an over-the-air update. 

As you might expect with a roofline like the C40’s, rear visibility takes a serious hit compared to the XC40, and rear headroom has been eaten into ever so slightly as well. Despite this, it’s far from cramped inside and legroom is good for an SUV of this size. The C40’s boot is also smaller than its sister car’s, with 413 litres of space on offer, although it’s still a good size for an electric family car and on par with what you get in the Mustang Mach-E and Polestar 2. Plus, the boot opening is wide and there’s no awkward lip to get things over either. You also get 31 litres of extra storage space under the bonnet.

Setting off in the C40 is a simple affair, as the car starts as soon as you unlock and enter, so you just need to select a gear and off you go. The steering is light and the wheel turns without any resistance, which we’ve come to expect from modern Volvos. However, if you prefer, you can increase the weight of the steering via the touchscreen, but it never feels sporty.

Out on the road, the electric coupe-SUV can’t disguise it’s weight, but still rides well on imperfect and cobbled road surfaces, and overall is a comfortable EV. It does fidget on faster flowing, smoother tarmac however, and there is a noticeable amount of wind noise at motorway speeds, where some of its rivals like Q4 e-tron cut through the air a little more quietly.

While Volvo claims the C40 can cover over 270 miles before the battery runs flat, at the beginning of our test drive, the car indicated a range of 256 miles on a fully charged battery. It’s a usable figure for day-to-day driving but all-wheel-drive versions of both the Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron and Volkswagen ID.5 feature a 77kWh battery and can crack 300 miles on a charge.

However, neither of those cars can match the C40’s performance, with it’s 4.7 second 0-62mph time feeling like it could, in fact, be a little conservative. The forthcoming Tesla Model Y Performance looks set to be the most direct rival to Volvo's powerful zero-emissions coupe-SUV.

The trade off of having that dual-motor setup is the C40’s current price tag, which starts from £57,400 – or a whopping £729 a month via a Volvo subscription – with the car only available to order online. A less expensive, single motor version will arrive later, which may stand out as the pick of the range. But for now, the C40 offers little more than some more rakish styling compared to the XC40, and the longer ranges at similar or even lower price points offered by rivals can’t be overlooked.

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