Fastback C40 puts a charge in electric SUV’s look …
Volvo’s swoopy-tailed C40 Recharge, a small SUV, is the epitome of form over function when it comes to styling.
Basically the C40 is identical mechanically with its XC40 Recharge, but instead of the traditional squared off crossover/SUV tail of the XC, the single C touts fastback styling resembling a coupe, thus the C designation. BMW pioneered this look a few years back, but to be honest, Volvo makes a better go of it visually.
This rear window slopes severely and there are two black vents of sorts above the window to give this a performance ambiance. Giant 20-inch wheels with fancy wide five-spoke wheels gives the C40 a Hot Wheels look that is aimed at turning the heads of younger buyers, which is also a strong demographic for electrics.
For visuals I gotta mention the cool jagged Z-shaped taillights too. They set the C40 apart like a red pocket square in a blah black suit jacket.
Before I go further, I must explain that any Volvo with Recharge in the name has a plug, so full electric, or plug-in hybrid.
Thus the C40 packs twin electric motors at each end to provide AWD traction and laudable power generated from a bevy of 78 kWh-lithium ion battery packs. Those also give C40 a low center of gravity, a consistent electric vehicle trait.
Power is absolutely phenomenal with a 0-60 mph time of 4.3 seconds, says Car and Driver. For the record, that’s coming from 402 horsepower with a neck-straining 486 pound-feet of torque. Press the acclerator and, wham, you’re off to the races.
But I digress, what will turn heads is the looks of this AWD SUV/coupe (Scoupe?) and that form defeats a key function, outward visibility and judging where the bobtail ends when parallel parking.
That sloping rear window coupled with big headrests in the back seat allow for a miniscule rear view. That can hamper backing up, or avoiding a lane change as a fast-approaching car passing on either side while cruising the highway. I also found that backing into a curbside parking space was a bit of a challenge. Sure, there’s a 360-degree camera and alarms sound when the tail gets near another vehicle as you back into a spot.
But that alarm seemed premature, so when I got out of the car I found I had a good 4 feet of space left behind the stubby tail. I guess a driver will learn and adapt, but beeping alarms can dissuade from further backing when it’s actually clear. Just sayin!
Yet as I said in my earlier review of the XC40 Recharge, this is one fine-driving vehicle.
Read the XC40 (near twin) review: 2022 Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin Ultimate | Savage On Wheels
The C40 Recharge handles with a sporty flair, like its square-back sibling. Steering is quick and precise, but with a heavier feel than the gas-only XC40, although there is a way to adjust the steering feel here, if you need. Ride, as in the earlier test drive is fairly well controlled, but still can get bumpy (sort of a rocking motion) on crumbling area roads so that there are mild, but annoying, jolts to the interior. A longer wheelbase is needed to smooth that.
Still, buying an electric SUV with sleeker looks is probably a more important consideration than ride, especially since this is livable.
I whined about range in my earlier review and that remains a concern. Tops is about 230 miles of charge. The info screen said I had 220 miles of range at a 97% charge after a 14-hour charge on my garage’s 120-volt line. That was fine as I found each night the standard electric outlet was getting me roughly an additional 20% charge, or about 40 to 50 miles.
If you let your batteries get to near 0 charge, it’ll take several days of constant charging to get back to 100%, or visit an Electrify America fast-charging station as those are free to Volvo owners at the moment. Volvo says a fast charge will boost C40 from 0 to 80% in about 40 minutes. Or, if you buy, you may want to upgrade to a 240-volt line in your garage for quicker charging.
A few other electrics still have better range, including the Volkswagen ID.4 at 260 miles, the Hyundai Kona at 258 and Tesla Model Y rated at 244 miles. So, consider your own driving habits. An acquaintance tells me he stopped twice between Minnesota and the Milwaukee area to charge his C40. I hear Tomah is a good stopping spot.
While many electrics feature a front-fender or grille-mounted charging plug, Volvo puts its outlet on the rear driver’s side quarter panel, where one often finds a fuel-filler door. And there’s a 1 cubic foot frunk that will hold the charging cable.
One other practical note about electrics, most offer one-pedal driving. Naturally there’s a brake pedal (which was a little too close to the accelerator here), but just using the accelerator is the way to go, just takes a few days to perfect the feel.
One-pedal works because the electric motors brake the car quite quickly once you let off the go-pedal. In fact, it can feel rather sudden, so you quickly learn to feather off accelerator pressure to slowly coast to a stop. The upside is that any coasting or braking helps recharge the batteries (regenerative braking), so in stop-and-go city driving you use less power as you’re constantly regenerating power. There’s a gauge that’s part of the four basic info screen menus that will update you on your current charge status.
My test C40 was a pleasant Fjord Blue Metallic ($695 extra), a reflective blue-gray that gets looks and cheery comments. Inside, it was black and blue with the dash and trim being black, and the door and carpeted floor mats being a blue gray that matched the exterior.
C40 is Volvo’s first standard interior not using leather, although it’s optional. Plant-based and recycled plastic bottles are used to create the seats and felt-like door trim, which looks good but feels a bit like a fake material. Trim around the 9-inch touchscreen is gloss black with chrome trim and the door release handles are a brushed chrome along with the steering wheel’s 3-spoke hub. Sadly this is not a power tilt/telescope wheel, but one supposes that saves a few electrons by keeping it manual.
Volvo’s console is a gloss black and the seats a grayish black with the outer edges feeling like fake leather and the inner cushions feeling more like velour. Stitching on the seat’s trim is white to add contrast.
The dash is fine with digital readouts in front of the driver, including charge level, and the large info screen, but beyond the main screen it gets a bit confusing, although I’ve finally learned how to access the radio stations I want, so I suspect it’s about time for Volvo to change its Android-based system. Oh, and you can ask Google to give you info via its voice-recognition system. The nav map is spectacular.
Note too that the car starts as soon as you are inside with the fob and sit in the driver’s seat. It knows you’re there due to the seat pressure and all electronics start immediately so you can quickly put the C40 in gear. Park is a push button. When leaving you simply open the door and depart. The car’s radio continues until you lift off the seat to leave and then it shuts down.
One oddball thing, the Volvo requires you lift the exterior door handle twice to open it. Or so I thought. I’ve since been informed that the doors unlock when you are in the vicinity with the fob in your pocket. Apparently, I was grabbing the door handle too quickly, thus the confusion. I’d just as soon that the fob not think for me.
Pluses include a wireless phone charger at the console’s front edge, a heated steering wheel, and heated and cooled front seats along with heated rear seats. The front seat controls are embedded in the touchscreen and Volvo’s seats are mildly contoured and comfy with power buttons on the sides and a two-memory system on the door to remember the driver’s seat settings.
There’s also a quality Harmon Kardon stereo that can enliven this extremely quiet interior. While overhead is a massive panoramic sunroof that was fine, mostly as it was never too hot or sunny while I tested the SUV. In southern or southwester climes the roof can get hot though as there is no sunshade to cover the roof, although it is tinted.
Volvo also provides a full complement of safety devices including smart cruise control, blind-spot warning and lane departure, plus automatic braking and sign recognition.
A power hatch opens to generous storage space, plus the rear seats split 1/3-2/3 to further boost that space. There’s even a little extra storage beneath the cargo floor.
Pricing starts at $56,395, including delivery, for the base Core model for 2023 as 2022 models are spoken for. The mid-level Plus lists at $57,945 and the tested Ultimate at $61,195 with delivery for a 2023.
Reportedly this is the first and only Volvo you can only order online, but one would imagine your Volvo dealer could help you do that if you were to visit a dealership. That’s where the car will be delivered.
Electrics are coming fast and furious now and Volvo promises to offer only electrics by 2030. It appears to be well on its way to delivering on that promise.
FAST STATS: 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge Twin Ultimate
Hits: Good styling in profile and back (especially taillights), excellent acceleration, precise handling and full-time AWD. Big sunroof, heated wheel and comfy heated/cooled front seats, big touchscreen, quality stereo, a stylish luxury interior, wireless phone charger, plus a full bevy of safety equipment.
Misses: No shade on sunroof and very limited rearview through back window. Touchscreen (beyond main screen) distracting to use while driving, no power tilt/telescope steering wheel and double action door releases. Bumpy ride on rough roads and the electric charge range is just 230 miles.
Made in: Ghent, Belgium
Engine: Twin electric motors w 78 kWh-lithium ion battery, 402 hp/486 torque
Transmission: Shift-by-wire single-speed automatic
Weight: 4,710 lbs.
Wheelbase: 106.4 in.
Length: 174.8 in.
Cargo: 14.5 cu.ft.
Tow: 2,000 lbs.
Base Price: $60,845 (includes delivery)
Fjord blue metallic paint, $695
Test vehicle: $60,540
Sources: Volvo, www.kbb.com
Photos: Mark Savage
#Volvo C40 Recharge