Volvo C40 Recharge Twin Pro: Refined, fast and intuitive – for a price…
Discover EV expert verdict...
- Fantastic build quality and design
- Extremely intuitive to use
- Fast and more efficient than you might think
- Expensive for a medium sized EV
- Looks won’t be for everyone
- Only just gained Apple integration
The Volvo C40 Recharge might be the second EV from the Swedish brand, but it’s also the first car in its history to be designed purely as an EV. Unlike the XC40 Recharge, there is no internal combustion-powered counterpart. It’s part of Volvo’s push towards being an EV-only, carbon neutral carmaker – with the aim of achieving the first of these by 2030 and the second by 2040.
Based on the CMA architecture, the C40 Recharge Twin Pro shares an awful lot with the XC40. What truly sets it apart to the causal onlooker is its looks which, thanks to the fastback-style body, are bolder and stand out from the crowd compared not only to its stablemate but to many EVs. It plays its part in Volvo’s sustainability agenda, too, being the first car from the brand to have a completely leather-free interior as well as trim and carpets made from up to 97 per cent recycled plastics.
All of this worthy stuff and bold design only means something if there’s substance underneath. We spent seven days and covered almost 500 miles across all road types to discover whether the C40 is more than just a pretty face.
Our Volvo C40 Recharge came with the twin motor setup which offers up 408bhp and 487lb ft of torque. These are meaty numbers, but it’s important to remember that the C40 weighs in at 2185kg. It comes as a surprise, then, that when you plant your foot for the first time it shifts in a way that not only belies its weight, it makes you wonder whether Volvo has lost 100bhp from the power figures. Officially it’ll do 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds but it feels faster. It’s a genuinely quick EV and the giggle factor never gets old.
But that’s not actually where the C40 really shines. Volvo has taken its time to refine the C40’s controls and the way the powertrain delivers forward momentum in such a way that it is an exceedingly pleasant car to simply get in and drive. It accelerates in a linear way and should you ever need to touch the brakes (operating 345mm front and 340mm rear discs) you’re not going to worry about stopping. Then again, over the near 500 miles we covered, the brake pedal was used around a dozen times thanks to the one pedal driving which is, frankly, as good as it gets in terms of the way Volvo has judged the force it applies.
Whilst the C40 Recharge looks relatively sporty and goes like the clappers in a straight line, you’ve got to remember that physics come into play when you’re going round corners. The C40 doesn’t wallow, pitch or roll overtly, but even with fairly uncommunicative steering you can feel the weight. That said, the even weight distribution and low centre of gravity combined with MacPherson struts up front and multilink suspension at the rear do a good job of keeping the bulk under control.
Once you’ve stopped messing around in the corners and simply relax into driving, it’s a lovely thing to do a long trip in. Wind and road noise is barely detectable and the damping really smooths out poor surfaces – uncannily given the almost spray-on tyres fitted to the 20 inch rims. Our car was also fitted with Pilot Assist, Adaptive Cruise control and blind spot assist and whilst we’d take or leave the former, the latter two work fantastically, slowing when approaching cars in your lane and then accelerating automatically when you indicate to go around if the outside lane is clear, for example.
One criticism we can level at it is appalling rear visibility; the rear-view mirror is broadly for decoration, though thankfully rear parking sensors are standard and our car had 360-degree cameras (a must, in our opinion). Minor criticism aside, arguably the best thing about the C40 is that even for an EV noob, it is utterly intuitive and if it’s a new EV owner’s first experience of electric driving, it’ll be a good one.
Range and running costs
Volvo quotes up to 274 miles for the C40 Recharge Twin which equates to 3 miles per kWh (33.3kWh per 100 miles) from its 75kWh (useable) battery. A final check of the stats when we handed the car back showed that over 469 miles, of which there was a 50/50 split of motor/dual carriageway and local driving, we achieved 31.6kWh per 100 miles. And there’s no reason to doubt this; Volvo’s range estimation is very, very good. Using the navigation will also let you know how much battery you’ll have left at your destination and if you want to do a round trip which came in very handy when we had to make an unexpected, emergency trip up the motorway.
We’d love to say that there was hypermiling going on with this, but the truth is that the car was driven normally. On the motorway the average speed was around 65mph, there were a few accelerative giggles and overtakes, and in town the C40 was simply keeping up with traffic. Whilst we were blessed with very good weather, that did necessitate use of climate control – so it’s swings and roundabouts on losses from elsewhere.
To sum up, by our calculations the official mileage is totally doable.
The C40 will charge at up to 150kW on a DC public charger, or in eight hours using the on-board AC charger. We didn’t have off-street charging available during the seven days we had the car so made use of local rapid chargers and slower on-street chargers, all of which was a doddle, frankly.
Where the Volvo loses out to some rivals is in actually buying it. You can buy a C40 Recharge for cash starting at £47,100 for the single motor. Most people will opt to use Volvo’s subscription service which starts at £669 per month for 36 months with no deposit and includes a Care by Volvo package which covers servicing (once every two years or 18,000 miles), roadside assistance, wear and tear, plus insurance if you want it.
If you want the Pro Twin, the price jumps to £58,360 as an entry point. This puts it above the Tesla Model Y and most of its premium brand contemporaries such as the Audi Q4 e tron, Mercedes EQB et. al. Arguably, it is a superior car to them, however.
Look at the Volvo C40 Recharge head-on and you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s an XC40. They share the same blanked out grille, ‘Thor’s hammer’ LED headlights, fog lights and air intakes. Move round to the side, however, and the C40’s fastback is revealed in the form of a heavily raked rear screen –almost 700mm has been shaved from the roofline.
Vertical rear lights go up either side of the hatch and do a rather pleasing dance when you unlock or lock the C40. Also present are high level spoilers – which make the C40 look a bit Batmobile-ish (if you squint) – and a hatch-top spoiler which combine to increase range at higher speeds by up to four per cent. From a purely subjective point of view, we think the rear of the car is a design highlight; it’s just cool. We liked the optional 20 inch diamond cut/black wheels (£750) and Silver Dawn colour, too.
Inside it’s a case of quality and more quality. The Charcoal Connect Textile/Microtech interior (£925) is a lovely place to be. The electrically adjustable heated front seats are supremely comfortable; tactile plastics on the surfaces you’re going to be touching ooze quality and an intuitive, simple layout backs this up. A panoramic sunroof adds to the airiness of the cabin. There are buttons for features like hazard lights, front and rear screen demist, turning on the radio and skipping songs as well as a knob for turning up the volume. Most other functions can be controlled from the multifunction steering wheel or 9 inch infotainment screen.
Software is via Google so integration with Android phones is native in the Volvo. As you’d expect, it just works. There’s no lag, apps are familiar and configuration of tiles on the home screen is easy. We do have one criticism, however, and that’s that the climate control icons on the infotainment screen are too small, making them fiddly to operate.
The driver’s display is 12.3 inches in size and can be configured to display things like navigation, charge/discharge and all the usual things you’d expect. It’s clear and refined, and navigation integration works very nicely indeed. If you want, you can use the Google assistant via voice control and for the most part it works very nicely, linking up with Android phones to boot. Since we tested the C40, Volvo has released an over-the-air update to the car’s software (including the XC40) so Apple CarPlay is now available – a massive bonus for many customers.
Comfort and practicality
Despite its fastback form, space isn’t exactly in short supply in the C40. The boot drops from 452 litres to 413 litres compared to the XC40, but space that you’d actually use day-to-day is broadly unchanged. Drop the flat folding rear seats and 1205 litres can be accessed. We carried a racing bicycle in the rear with both wheels on and space to spare and also went away for the weekend with far too much luggage and the Volvo swallowed it easily. An electronic tailgate with remote opening or foot-operated opening makes loading and unloading shopping a breeze. Under the bonnet you’ll find a 31 litre ‘frunk’ where cables are stored and easily accessed.
A wheelbase of 2702mm means that as well as plentiful space up front, as you’d expect, there’s easily enough room for three adults in the rear. Headroom isn’t in short supply, either, despite the sloping roof.
Up front is a central, wireless phone charger alongside four USB sockets around the cabin, meaning there’s plenty of charging power for device-hungry kids! If their devices don’t entertain them, the Harman Kardon sound system fitted to our car should do, offering fantastic clarity and rich tones across all the music we threw at it.
It’s possible to spec a tow bar (£1250) and drag loads of up to 1800kg braked. Should you do so, the standard ‘Off Road’ drive mode which operates below 25mph and helps keep things in check on slippery surfaces. The 360-degree cameras and parking sensors will also help in slow-speed manoeuvres and proved very handy, especially given the lack of rear visibility.
Whilst our car had a few of the more desirable options fitted, as standard the C40 comes with loads of kit. This includes the full Google-based infotainment system and Volvo App through which owners can remotely control some car functions, plus wireless phone charging and an eight-speaker sound system. In addition the power-operated tailgate, two-zone climate control, cruise control with speed limiter and auto headlights with active high beam come as standard. Driving aids are equally numerous including pedestrian/cyclist detection and front collision warning with emergency braking, plus oncoming lane mitigation and run-off road protection which pre-tensions seatbelts if the car leaves the road.
To say we were impressed by the Volvo C40 Recharge Twin Pro would be putting it lightly. It takes everything the XC40 Recharge does so well and adds a more dynamic and eye-catching design.
It goes about the task of being ‘a car’ in such an unfussy, refined way. But more than that, everything about it is incredibly intuitive meaning that even in hectic traffic you still step out at your destination feeling relaxed. You’ll probably arrive with more charge than you might expect, too. Not that you need to; step on it and the way the C40 shifts is almost hilarious and whilst it’s not going to set the world alight in the corners, it steers plenty well enough.
Add to that an interior which is spacious and beautifully put together, infotainment which caused us almost no gripes and little touches which make it a very practical car and the C40 is a compelling package. There is a ‘but’; all of this refinement and Volvo-y goodness costs a lot of money, and there are cars which are as good in many areas and cost significantly less – such as the Polestar 2, the C40’s cousin.
The decision for buyers is whether stumping up the extra for the C40 Recharge is a price worth paying. But if you’re fortunate enough to have pockets which go deep enough, the Volvo C40 Recharge Twin Pro will not disappoint.
2022 Volvo C40 Recharge Twin Pro
Price (RRP OTR): From £58,350
Top speed: 112mph
0-62mph: 4.7 seconds
Driving range (combined): 274 miles
Charging time: 12hrs (7.4kW, 0-100%), 37 min (150kW, 10-80%)
Insurance group: 43
Vehicle warranty: 3 years/unlimited miles
Battery warranty: 8 years / 100,000 miles