Expensive, but insanely fast, the C40 Recharge is a new electric crossover from Volvo.
2022 Volvo C40 Recharge review by The Road Beat
Words and pictures by Mitchell Weitzman
What is it?
Volvo's first electric-only vehicle, meaning the C40 is only available as an electric vehicle and will only ever be an electric vehicle. It has a funky design that is undeniably the shape of an 'electric car,' and it has 400 horsepower for on-paper and charging station bragging rights (I literally nearly wrote gas station there...). It costs about $62,000 as equipped and is about identical to the electrically-converted Volvo XC40 Recharge EV that I also tested back-to-back, a crossover of the same size based on the existing XC40 compact utility vehicle. This is primarily a review of the C40, but because the two are so closely linked, there will be many mentions of the XC40 as well.
Hang on tight, because this one is fast. In fact, this is one of the quickest vehicles I've ever tested. With 402 horsepower and all-wheel drive, 0-60 MPH takes about 4 seconds flat. From a walking pace, stabbing the accelerator can result in legit neck-snapping of occupants who are not expecting it. This can be fun, until your significant other starts complaining, that is. The acceleration is pure rapid, and not something I was expecting from a Volvo crossover. The XC40 EV is also similarly rampant when prodded.
The styling inside and out is fresh and modern, even if I highly dislike the blue carpets inside this particular example (they're optional). For a small vehicle, storage and interior space is decent in the front and rear seats even. While on the road, the C40 drives cleanly and competently in most aspects. The steering might be dead, but it turns accurately with excellent traction when exiting corners and an ability to 'hold its line,' in other words, to not understeer into a tree. This vehicle has so much power that, on curvy roads, you really do need to be aware of your right foot as distances between corners do shrink quite quickly with heavy feet. Luckily, I was impressed and surprised how much speed you can carry safely, despite this being a shopping cart of a crossover SUV at its core. Its ability to distribute power between axles is quite remarkable in this regard for slingshotting out of bends. However, quickly changing direction is sloppy and shows a definite unsporting character. While you can cover ground quite hastily, this is no sports vehicle.
There are different drive modes that do substantially increase power and throttle response as well as for regenerative braking. You can choose between no regeneration and treat it like a normal combustion car, or utilize the kinetic energy recovery, meaning you can drive almost completely with just one pedal. It takes some getting used to, but I rather like the involvement that one-pedal-driving can bring. Switching between the two can also help maximize your range.
When driving with economy in mind, I was able to extract 3 miles of range for every kWh from the battery pack, a figure on par with most other EVs despite this Volvo having gobs more power at the ready. With 75 kWh of usable energy available, that would equate to a range of 225 miles. Not groundbreaking by any means, but decent enough for a smallish battery pack size and for running about in your local areas. With a little planning involved for chargers, driving this round trip to the Bay Area and back wouldn't be a serious concern. The C40 and XC40 both were just as efficient as a base 2WD VW ID.4 with nearly half the horsepower, a nice accomplishment.
Speed isn't everything, though it can be a strong selling point. At around $62,000 as-tested, this Volvo is just too much money. Volvo is moving upmarket with some real luxury car credentials these days, but I thought the C40 felt and looked too cheap on the inside. Materials didn't impress (no leather is used here) and some things were plain flimsy. Passengers felt similar, too, when comparing to other vehicles I've sampled at similar prices. I later tested a Genesis GV60, a similarly priced and size car, and that interior blows the Volvo away; It's like comparing Ikea furniture to Pottery Barn. Similarly, an XC60, a larger and gas-powered Volvo SUV, is markedly nicer inside. The XC40 twin is alike in this regard, being similarly cheap inside as it a sub-$40k compact at its core. It's not that it's like a Toyota inside, it's just that this is in no way the interior worthy of a $60,000 car. It's also just a bit too small inside and with a heavily compromised cargo area on the C40 due to the dramatically sloped rear roofline.
Less noticeable in the XC40 than the C40 was a firm and uncultured ride quality, reacting harshly to larger bumps that belies a luxury vehicle.
I also experienced multiple electronic gremlins with the C40 and XC40. At times I found the large infotainment screen to completely lock and freeze at random. Another journey in the C40 resulted in the air conditioning not working, which was alarming on a warm 85 degree day. It eventually came back on another drive, but that is actually, completely, and utterly unacceptable. The radio also refused to work on a couple short drives. What's more is that the C40 refused to lock in one instance. No matter how many times I touched the sensor on the door handle or pressed the key's button, locking would not happen. And yes, I checked that all the doors were in fact. Eventually, I won and it decided to regain consciousness and lock. LOL, not good. The XC40 didn't display locking issues, but both cars did experience infotainment locks and crashes as described. I also don't like that neither have on/off start buttons, instead relying on the car's lacking intelligence to start and shut down. Both models also have a blank black button to the right of the steering wheel where a start button should be, which looks incredibly cheap and demeaning.
I'm not sure why Volvo offers both the XC40 and C40 Recharge models, as they have such overlap. They're so alike in size, and with the same powertrains, and with too closely related names, that it will likely confuse buyers and lessees. The C40 is smaller on the inside than the XC40, and also costs marginally more, and the styling might not be to your liking also. The GV60 Genesis that came to market a couple months later does render both these models as nearly useless, doing everything better for similar money. While it is fast, I would not recommend either of these two Volvos at this price. And really, spending less for a loaded Hyundai Ioniq 5 or Kia EV6 wouldn't be a bad bet either.
2022 Volvo C40 Recharge Twin Ultimate
Price as-tested: About $62,000
Pros: Fast. Very fast.
Cons: Electronic gremlins. Small inside.
2022 Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin Ultimate
Price as-tested: $60,090
Pros: Fast. Very fast. Cheaper than C40. More room than C40.
Cons: Still small inside. Infotainment gremlins. Still a lot of money.