It's easy to write off the Volvo C40 Recharge as a slightly swoopier version of the company's XC40 Recharge EV. But with its clean lines, quick acceleration and great roster of tech, honestly, what's so bad about that?
First off, I love the way the C40 looks. The roofline is different enough from the XC40's to make it stand out, and no matter what color you order, the roof is always black. It's cool how the LED taillights run in segments down the rear window, ending in a solid, squared-off design. The little ducktail spoiler is a neat little aerodynamic trick, as well, since it also covers the hinges for the hatchback.
Powering the C40 is a 78-kilowatt-hour battery pack that gives this Volvo an EPA-estimated 226 miles of range. In real-world use, the C40 should return 2.9 miles per kWh, a number I have no trouble matching during my testing. In terms of energy consumption, that puts it between competitors like the Ford Mustang Mach-E (3.2 miles per kWh with the standard battery) and Audi E-Tron (2.3 miles per kWh).
Plugged into my home charger, I can take advantage of the C40's 11-kW onboard charger, earning 31 miles of range in an hour at a cost of about $3. A second charge later in the week filled the Volvo up to 100% for $27.45 in about 10 hours, but had I been satisfied with 80%, it would've taken about eight hours. (Charging rates decline after 80%.) If you have access to a DC fast-charging station, the C40 can take in energy at speeds of up to 150 kW.
When you slide behind the wheel, you don't actually have to start the C40. As long as I have the key on me, the C40 registers my butt in the driver's seat and turns itself on. All I have to do is put it in gear and go. Cool.
Driving the C40 is a pleasant experience thanks to its instant electric torque. The dual-motor setup in the C40 means I've got 402 horsepower and 486 pound-feet of torque going to all four wheels. That pretty much matches the Audi E-Tron and it's more power than nonluxury offerings such as the Ford Mustang Mach-E or Hyundai Ioniq 5. With this much power on offer, the C40 can accelerate to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds. There's no hesitation in acceleration, just pure electric thrust. Freeway merging and passing are quick and easy, and whenever I need to hop into a busy carpool lane, I don't need to wait for a huge gap. The C40 busts up to speed like a boss.
You can turn a one-pedal driving mode on and off, but I like the idea of getting energy for free, so I keep it on during my week with the car. The C40 will even come to a complete stop and hold itself there until I touch the throttle again.
There are no drive modes to control the suspension's stiffness, although I can adjust the steering feel. The ride quality isn't bad, but some may find it a little harsh, especially over broken pavement. Then again, a curb weight of almost 5,000 pounds and 20-inch wheels with low-profile tires will do that to a car.
My one big complaint is rearward visibility. The small, sloping back window really obscures my view. Sure, I've got all the 360-degree cameras and blind-spot monitoring tech I could want, but it's a bit jarring looking in the rearview mirror and just seeing the grille of the car behind me and not much else.
Thankfully, the C40 comes standard with all the driver-assistance features you could want. Blind-spot monitoring is here, as is lane-keeping assist, road sign recognition, and both front and rear parking sensors. Adaptive cruise control is used with Pilot Assist to help take some of the stress out of commuting, keeping the car at a set distance from the vehicle in front as well as centered in the lane. On the whole, this tech works smoothly, but it seems to push towards the passenger side of the lane a bit. However, I like that Pilot Assist uses map data to identify curves and hills and can adapt the C40's speed as needed.
I'm getting used to Volvo's improved infotainment system, housed on a 9-inch touchscreen. It runs on the Android Automotive operating system, and because of that, I have Google Maps, Google Assistant and access to the Google Play store. It's all familiar and easy to use, though I do miss having Apple CarPlay. The lack of Apple integration is a real bummer, though Volvo says it's coming soon.
My tester's dark interior is complemented by the no-cost Fjord Blue carpets and door inserts. It's a striking look and one you'll likely want, as well. I also dig the topographical map design on the dash that lights up at night. Not that I expect to take this thing off-road, but I'm a map geek, so it makes me happy.
The standard heated front seats are pretty comfortable, made from synthetic fabrics that, while not exactly vegan, at least are not leather. Also heated for no extra cost are the steering wheel, door mirrors and front badge, the latter of which ensures the forward-facing camera always stays frost-free.
The C40's rear compartment suffers a bit of headroom loss compared to the XC40, thanks to that sloping roofline, but it's not too bad. Cargo space, however, is at a premium, with only 17.3 cubic feet behind the second row, maxing out at 48.7 cubes with the seats folded flat. There is a tiny frunk up front, but with only 1 cubic foot of space, it barely holds a backpack.
The 2022 Volvo C40 starts at $59,845 including $1,095 for delivery, and the only options are paint colors. And that's not by accident either. Volvo wants to reduce complexity in its products and offer transparent pricing models.
Plus, if you want to buy a C40, or any upcoming Volvo electric vehicle for that matter, you'll have to do it online. Volvo will still have retail partners responsible for delivery and servicing of its vehicles. However, its offerings will be preconfigured with no room for price negotiations. All electric Volvos purchased online will include service, warranty, roadside assistance, home charging options and even insurance where available.
It's a brave new world of car buying, but at least the underlying product is great. This EV might be short on cargo space and can't match the longer range of some rivals, but if you prioritize high quality and style above everything else, the C40 has bags of charm.