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The Volvo C40 Recharge Review: Style, Sustainability, and Speed

Volvo's C40 Recharge is a practical daily driver with a luxurious interior, impressive power, and a commitment to sustainability

Volvo C40 Recharge

As electric vehicles become increasingly prevalent, automakers are racing to keep pace with Tesla while also differentiating themselves in an electrified market. For Volvo, this has meant leveraging its reputation for safety and refinement while adding a distinctly Scandinavian flair to their EV offerings. The new C40 Recharge, the brand’s first electric-only model, embodies this strategy in a sleek crossover coupe package.

Lower and wider than the related XC40 Recharge SUV, the C40 Recharge sports a dramatically sloping roofline enabled by a new advanced battery pack integrated into the floor. This new pack retains the 78kWh capacity while using updated LG battery cells to increase range over 20% compared to its boxy sibling. The exterior also gains eye-catching touches like a split rear spoiler and distinctive 22-inch alloy wheels designed for aerodynamic efficiency.

Inside, Volvo’s commitment to sustainability takes center stage with extensive use of recycled plastics, eco-friendly fabrics and other innovative materials. The minimalist cabin features a backlit topographic dash motif, part of the unique Scandinavian design ethos. Core technologies like the Google-powered infotainment system carry over from other Volvo EVs.

Does the C40 Recharge’s striking coupe styling and upgraded battery tech justify what will likely be a higher price tag versus the XC40 Recharge? We aim to find out in this hands-on review focusing on design, performance, features and real-world usability.

Volvo C40 Recharge

Design of the Volvo C40 Recharge

Volvo pulled off quite a feat with the C40 Recharge – retaining the strengths of the XC40 Recharge while packaging it into a dramatically more stylish shape. The exterior sports a swooping, coupe-like silhouette made possible by advanced battery integration.

The most striking change is the raked rear roofline and hatch, enabled by a new structural battery pack that retains the 78kWh capacity. This updated pack utilizes advanced LG Chem pouch cells with nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC) chemistry to lower the height by 50mm while boosting range over 20% compared to the XC40 Recharge.

Volvo C40 Recharge

Up front, the C40 Recharge inherits the Thor’s Hammer LED headlights and blanked-out grille of its sibling. But new touches like a more chiselled lower bumper with enlarged triangular fog lamp housings add flair. The hood gains crisp creasing and tapered ends to match the sportier styling.

In profile, the lowered roofline melds fluidly into an integrated rear spoiler that contains a subtle high-level brake light. Sharply creased character lines along the doors and sculpted wheel arches reinforce the sporting coupe aesthetic. Our test vehicle came equipped with stunning new 22-inch 10-spoke aero-optimized alloy wheels, a sizable upgrade over the XC40’s 19-inch rims.

At the rear, the C40 retains the familiar vertical LED taillights of other Volvo EVs but gains added style from the double-decker rear spoiler. The lower spoiler acts as an air diffuser while reducing lift, and the strategically creased tailgate integrates cleanly. Overall, the exterior length is reduced by 5.6cm versus the XC40 while widening the body by 1cm to accentuate the lower stance.

Interiors of the Volvo C40 Recharge

Inside the 5-seat cabin, Scandinavian influences take center stage through minimalist, geometric styling. Volvo emphasized sustainability through extensive use of recycled plastics, eco-friendly suede fabrics and other innovative materials. The Luminar Black interior color scheme added striking contrast with its light gray suede seats.

The backlit topographic dash motif sets a unique tone, made from 50 recycled PET bottles. Door cards utilize recycled plastics and wine corks for original texture, while the rear cargo floor is made from recycled car parts. Despite the focus on eco materials, interior quality remains superb throughout.

The low-slung battery pack does impact rear headroom, which is reduced by 42mm versus the XC40 Recharge. However, legroom remains generous at a maximum of 857mm. Well-bolstered front seats and firm cushioning provide excellent comfort and support. Taken as a whole, the C40 Recharge’s interior balances sustainability with authentic Scandinavian craftsmanship.

Volvo C40 Recharge

Features & Technology of the Volvo C40 Recharge

Sliding into the driver’s seat, the Volvo C40 Recharge greets me with the brand’s signature vertical touchscreen display running Google’s Android Automotive OS. The crisp 9-inch screen immediately feels familiar thanks to the seamless integration of Google Maps, Assistant voice controls and smartphone apps. Inputs are responsive, and over-the-air updates promise to keep things fresh over time.

My phone pairs easily via Bluetooth to stream tunes through the Harmon Kardon audio system. The 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster relays critical driving data clearly, and I appreciate the Google Maps integration that provides turn-by-turn guidance right in the driver’s line of sight.

On the road, Volvo’s sophisticated driver aids make their presence known. The Steering Assist function provides gentle course corrections when I wander near lane markings, while adaptive cruise control impresses with smooth speed adjustments in traffic. Volvo’s reputation for safety innovation shines through in the extensive ADAS tech suite.

At a stoplight, a message alerts me that the lead car has pulled away – the attentive C40 Recharge helping keep me focused on the drive. Voice commands through the Google Assistant handle navigation and music selection requests with minimal fuss.

Driving the Volvo XC40 Recharge

The Volvo C40 Recharge offers an engaging electric driving experience, merging the practicality of a crossover with the dynamics of a more performance-oriented vehicle. It is powered by an electric powertrain that produces over 400 horsepower and an immediate torque of 895 Nm, distributed through a dual-motor all-wheel-drive system. This setup includes a 150 horsepower front permanent magnet synchronous motor and a 258 horsepower rear permanent magnet motor, facilitating acceleration that competes with traditional sports cars.

Volvo advertises a 0-100 km/h (approximately 62 mph) acceleration time of 4.7 seconds, yet the real-world sensation of acceleration is even more immediate, thanks to the electric motors’ linear power delivery. The vehicle’s responsiveness remains impressive even at higher speeds, with a swift acceleration upon demand.

Volvo C40 Recharge

The vehicle’s performance is supported by a 78 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, featuring advanced pouch cells and thermal management technology from LG Chem. Despite retaining the same physical dimensions as the XC40 Recharge, enhancements in battery chemistry and cooling have led to an over 20% increase in the EPA-estimated range.

The Volvo C40 Recharge is equipped with a 78kWh battery, a specification that positions it competitively within the electric vehicle (EV) market, especially considering its SUV-coupe form factor. This substantial battery capacity is enhanced by a new cell chemistry, which Volvo has selected to maximize energy density and efficiency. This technological advancement is not merely a technical detail but a significant leap forward in electric mobility, enabling the C40 Recharge to boast a WLTP range of up to 530km on a single charge. This figure represents a noteworthy improvement over many EVs in its class, highlighting Volvo’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in electric vehicle range. However, it’s important to note that real-world conditions such as driving habits, terrain, and climate can affect the actual range, with a more realistic expectation being around 400km under typical driving conditions.

Charging the C40 Recharge offers flexibility to cater to a variety of user needs and situations. On a 50 kW DC fast charger, the vehicle can be charged from 10% to 80% in approximately 68 minutes, making it suitable for quick top-ups during longer journeys. For those with access to a more powerful 150 kW DC charger, this charging time can be significantly reduced to around 28 minutes, further enhancing the C40’s usability for drivers on the go. Additionally, for home charging solutions, an 11 kW AC charger can fully recharge the battery overnight in about 8 hours, ensuring the vehicle is ready for the day ahead. These varied charging options, combined with the vehicle’s respectable range, underscore the C40 Recharge’s practicality as an electric vehicle, designed to meet the demands of daily use and longer trips with equal aplomb.

On the road, the C40 Recharge behaves more akin to a sport sedan than a traditional crossover. The battery’s low placement enhances the vehicle’s center of gravity and weight distribution, contributing to its cornering stability and balance. Adaptive dampers and precise electric power steering ensure the vehicle remains composed and agile, even at higher speeds, with minimal body roll. Advanced torque vectoring further enhances its cornering capabilities, allowing it to exit bends with impressive traction.

The high-performance tires strike a balance between grip and comfort, ensuring a smooth ride even over uneven surfaces. The regenerative braking system facilitates one-pedal driving, enabling drivers to effectively manage vehicle speed while recapturing energy. Altogether, Volvo has created an electric crossover equally capable of eliciting grins when driven hard or serving as a comfortable daily commuter.

Verdict of the Volvo C40 Recharge

The Volvo C40 Recharge stands as a compelling testament to Volvo’s vision for the future of electric mobility, blending cutting-edge design, robust performance, advanced technology, and practical sustainability into a seamless package. Its distinctive coupe-SUV silhouette, impressive power output, and responsive handling address the aesthetic and performance desires of modern drivers, while the integration of Google’s intuitive technology suite caters to the increasing demand for connected and intelligent vehicles. The commitment to using sustainable materials within a luxuriously crafted interior further distinguishes the C40 Recharge, aligning with evolving consumer values around environmental responsibility. With its practical range and flexible charging options, the C40 Recharge is not just a statement of intent from Volvo but a viable, daily driver that competes admirably in the burgeoning electric vehicle market, making it an attractive option for those looking to make the transition to electric without compromise.

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