28.5.2022Volvo C40 review
Volvo’s second pure-EV to arrive is this C40. Based on the same platform as the XC40, unlike the conventional SUV, the C40 coupe-SUV is offered only as a pure-electric model. With coupe-inspired SUVs and electric vehicles selling fast, it’s likely the Volvo C40 will prove popular, so we find out what it’s like to drive.
Review by Chris Lilly
This version of the C40 tested is the Recharge Twin Pro, which uses dual electric motors to provide a combined 300 kW (408 hp). With a 150 kW electric motor on each axle, the C40 provides all-wheel drive, aiding a 0-62mph time of just 4.7 seconds, and a top speed of 112mph. It’s the same system found in the top-level XC40 and Polestar 2.
It all equates to a seriously rapid family-focused SUV really, with more power than is needed - but plenty for some driving fun. It’s quick to respond to the throttle, as you would expect from a 300 kW electric car, and despite weighing in at a little over two tonnes, the power hides that fact with ease. Performance is a doddle around town, a hoot on country roads, and refined on the motorway.
I felt that the C40 was a little more dynamic than the XC40, seeming that tiny bit sharper in the bends. Although no sports car, the C40 feels pretty sprightly for its size, and proves agile in the corners. It’s something that particularly helps in town, as the Volvo will tackle car parks and tight streets comfortably.
On faster routes, it’s a refined and comfortable drive, resisting body roll when cornering but supple enough for a relaxed driving style on motorways. Combining the suspension settings and performance potential, the Volvo C40 is an accomplished long distance EV.
For those that want a less practical XC40, the Volvo C40 is perfect. Of course, that’s written with tongue firmly in cheek, but ultimately the essence of the statement rings true. The C40 is a little less practical than the XC40 in outright terms, because the sloping roofline cuts into the load space above the windowpane.
In reality, the sleeker styling makes little difference to practicality day-to-day, and the C40 is going to prove popular for those that like the XC40 - itself a stylish SUV - but want something a tad more design focused. The front end is essentially the same as the XC40, but past the A-pillars, the change in roofline kicks in and the doors and boot change, with the rear-lights the most noticeable alteration in design details.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
If the exterior changes a fair amount from C40 to XC40, the centre console and instruments are identical. This is no bad thing however, as the pure-electric set-up is built on the Android system, like Polestar, and it works nicely. Buttons are simply laid out and there aren’t dozens of menus to dive into, though it would be better if there was a quick way to switch the car into “one-pedal” driving mode rather than pushing a few buttons each time you want to turn it on/off.
There is little other switchgear to speak of, but what there is feels nice if not top quality. Elements like the gearstick are great, but the audio controls feel premium rather than luxurious - rival efforts manage a bit higher level of premium-ness.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
The official driving range for the Volvo C40 is rated at 273 miles on a charge, which is a pretty strong figure. There are sleek SUVs that will go further, but this sort of range will more than deal with most drivers’ needs.
As I’ve found with the Volvo XC40 and Polestar 2 - which share the C40’s powertrain - the C40 struggled to achieve that official range in anything other than ideal, slow moving urban conditions. After my time with it, I calculated that the realistic range would be 228 miles on a charge, but this included long and fast runs, particularly in hilly terrain. I would ordinarily expect that average real-world figure to be around the 240-mile mark realistically, with 250 miles comfortable achievable on slower trips.
Naturally, there are a number of features that help the Volvo make the most of its range, including brake energy recuperation. In normal mode, the C40 will offer a reasonable amount of braking strength from the electric motors, but not a huge amount. However, there is a One-Pedal mode which allows the car to come to a complete stop without touching the brake pedal. It’s very well weighted and balanced, and unless you’re driving on fast open roads, it’s a handy feature to have.
Charging the 78 kWh (75 kWh net) battery is possible at up to 150 kW DC on CCS high-power chargers. I saw peak charging speeds of almost 130 kW DC on two different charger types, so high speed charging is certainly possible. Volvo says that it will take around half an hour for a top-up to 80% on a 150+ kW unit, an hour or so on a 50 kW point, and up to 12 hours on a 7 kW charger.
Fitted as standard to the C40 range are 19-inch alloys, cruise control, power tailgate, rear park assist, LED headlights climate control, 9-inch touchscreen infotainment system, wireless phone charger, and 12.3-inch digital instruments.
Added to the press car were 360-degree cameras, Harman Kardon audio system, heated steering wheel and heated front & rear seats, keyless drive, handsfree tailgate opening/closing, 20-inch alloys, and heat pump.
I’ve said before that the Volvo XC40 Recharge is a fantastic all-rounder, with performance, style, and practicality in abundance, all powered by a first-class powertrain. The Volvo C40 is exactly the same, but with a little more focus on style over practicality.
Model tested: Volvo C40 Recharge Twin Pro
Body-style: Coupe SUV
Engine / CO2: Twin electric motors / 0 g/km
Trim grades: Plus and Pro
On-road price: Recharge Twin range from £55,550
Warranty: Three years / 60,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 4.0 Stars