This is where we find the Volvo C40 Recharge – it looks like a Volvo, but with a very different look. Confused? “Look over there!”
Five years ago, our vision of electric vehicles was rooted in the future. In particular, in design. They had to look like they were from a science fiction movie because the technology seemed as such.
Yet, some manufacturers felt that if they kept their current design language – rather to install an electric drive system in a familiar model – that would soften the future shock of EVs.
Could there be a compromise between the two schools of thought?
This is where we find the Volvo C40 Recharge – it looks like a Volvo, but with a very different look.
Confused? “Look over there!” (Sorry, Jaida Essence Hall, I had to)
The C40 began life as a variant of the XC40. The platform is shared with other electrified vehicles from the Geely corporate family, including the Polestar 2 and the Lynk & Co 01. The result is a vehicle with some tweaks to distinguish it from the XC40 – and a coupe-SUV profile at the rear.
The result is a mix of what we expect from a Volvo electric vehicle and something completely different.
In a sense, the C40’s design works visually. If you want to stand out in the EV crowd, this is one way of doing so.
The front end is the first clue that Volvo put in some effort to distinguish the C40 from its XC40. The headlamp units and hoodline are slightly different, even though they follow the same design conventions of the brand. The glasshouse also shares the same shape as the XC40.
That is where it all ends. The B-pillar starts the coupe-SUV roofline. It is a slope that starts taking shape around the C-Pillar, meeting the high beltline where the liftgate meets the rear spoiler. The taillight units follow the liftgate and cross into the lower section of the rear end.
In this Ultimate tester, a set of 20-inch alloy wheels finish off this coupe-SUV’s look.
The overall shape of the C40 can yield some extreme reactions. I’m going to play the role of Switzerland and remain neutral on it.
Inside is a mix of familiar Volvo design elements and this really cool blue color. The blue carpeting is something you rarely see these days – and it is a welcoming change in an industry married into a drab black interior world. The Instrumentation, infotainment screen and controls are very familiar – and that helps tremendously. Starting up the C40 without an ignition button is still strange. I should be used to it after the XC40 Recharge and the Volkswagen ID.4, right?
Some good news on the infotainment front. The Google-driven system is now Apple CarPlay compatible! That makes me and many iOS users very happy. Harman Kardon provides a lovely soundtrack inside the C40 through its 13 speakers.
The mix of leather-like and suede-like seating provides enough support and some comfort up front. Rear headroom can be a challenge due to the roofline, but six-footers can manage just fine while negotiating the glass roof panel above. Cargo space begins with 15 cubic feet behind the rear seat, expandable to 49 feet with the seatbacks down.
My biggest gripe about the C40 is its rearward vision. Coupe-SUVs may look cool, but there is a huge penalty when you have a narrow view out the back. In the C40’s case, it feels like I’m driving a sports car if I’m trying to see what’s behind me. That’s not a reassuring feeling.
What is reassuring is the C40 Recharge Twin’s driveline. The two-motor set-up provides a combined 402 horsepower and 487 pound-feet of torque. That means quick acceleration and smooth power delivery while cruising. Volvo states that it would get up to 226 miles from a fully charged battery.
The driving experience is good overall. It rides high, which induces a very smooth ride which is also absorbent over rougher surfaces. Highway driving is just fine. You will find some softness in the cornering, even with quick response through key handling maneuvers. Watch for lean and roll on the turns.
The steering wheel had a very soft feel with some on-center softness at lower speeds. The turning radius could be tighter, but response at the wheels is quite good. The brakes needed some pedal intervention in normal and panic situations. You can use the one pedal option, which works just fine.
As for price, this 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge Twin Ultimate was priced out at $60,540 – less than $500 more than the XC40 Recharge Twin Ultimate I worked with before. With three trims to choose from, the C40 starts from $55,300. Unlike the XC40, you cannot get one with an internal combustion engine.
The fact that Volvo has doubled down on electric vehicles is not surprising. The entire lineup is getting electrified – from battery-electrics to mild hybrids. Adding the C40 to the lineup expands the offerings to including something different – a coupe-SUV.
Yet, one has to wonder about following trends. Battery-electric vehicles are seen as the future and, perhaps, a trend. However, there is a serious push towards normalizing EVs for a future without the use of fossil fuels…maybe.
On the other hand, the coupe-SUV trend might be waning. A report from one of BMWs rivals point to the possibility of eliminating one of their fastback crossover models. Maybe.
No matter which trend you wish to follow, Volvo is showing what it can do when given the chance to create battery-electric vehicles for their customers – you can include Polestar with that statement. Is it a trend? Not for Volvo. For them – and us – the vision of the future is now.
DISCLAIMER: Vehicle provided by Volvo Cars USA
All photos by Randy Stern