Volvo C40 Recharge review
The latest addition to Volvo's zero-emissions line-up offers strong performance and coupe-SUV looks, but the C40's £57,400 price tag and sub-300-mile range can't be overlooked
- Coupe-esque looks
- Range compared to rivals
- Expensive at launch
- Reduction in practicality
|Car type||Range||Wallbox charging time||Rapid charge time|
|Electric||273 miles||12hrs (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, and will be electric-only by 2030. In the meantime, this C40 Recharge serves as Volvo’s first standalone electric car. It's a more rakish coupe-SUV equivalent of the XC40 Recharge, which first 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 Tesla 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 aforementioned XC40 Recharge and the Polestar 2 – and the same dual-motor setup, producing 402bhp, used by the fastest versions of both those models. Acceleration from 0-62mph takes just 4.7 seconds; this is the only powertrain option for the C40 right now, but a single-motor version will arrive in time.
The motors are fed by a sizeable 78kWh battery, which according to Volvo provides enough juice to cover 273 miles on a charge – around 30 more than the equivalent XC40. However, it's less than what the ID.5 GTX will cover, while the all-wheel-drive extended-range version of the Mustang Mach-E, which matches the C40 Recharge for performance and price, has a 335-mile range.
The C40 does get rapid-charging 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.
The footprint of the C40 on the road is the same as its conventional SUV sibling, although it does get plenty of surfacing and detailing changes compared to that car, as well as the rakish coupe-like roofline. Inside, the C40 is extremely similar to the XC40, but 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 screen running Android Automotive software with Volvo graphics. It features integration of Google’s apps and mapping and is paired with an updated 12-inch digital driver’s display. The system is a welcome addition to Volvo’s models and is also neatly organised. The C40 doesn’t support Apple CarPlay at launch, but this will be added by an over-the-air (OTA) software update in time.
As you might expect with a roofline like the C40’s, rear visibility takes a hit compared to the XC40, and rear headroom has been eaten into slightly as well. Despite this, it’s far from cramped 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 on offer – 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. You also get 31 litres 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.
On the road, the electric coupe-SUV can’t disguise its weight, but it still rides well on imperfect and cobbled road surfaces, and overall is comfortable. It does fidget on faster flowing, smoother tarmac, however, and there's a noticeable amount of wind noise at motorway speeds, whereas some rivals like Audi 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 full charge. That's a usable figure for day-to-day driving, but all-wheel-drive versions of both the Q4 Sportback and ID.5 get a 77kWh battery and can crack 300 miles.
However, neither of those cars can match the C40’s performance. Its official 4.7-second 0-62mph time actually seems conservative compared to how quick it feels in reality, which means the Tesla Model Y Performance looks set to be the most direct rival to Volvo's powerful zero-emissions coupe-SUV.
The trade-off for that dual-motor setup is the C40’s price tag of £57,400 – or a whopping £729 a month on a Volvo subscription – with the car only available to order online. A less expensive, single-motor version will arrive later, and this is likely to be the pick of the range. For now, all the C40 can offer is more rakish styling than the XC40; the longer ranges at similar or even lower price points offered by rivals can’t be overlooked.