Volvo has produced some great looking cars in recent years especially when it comes to its XC40, XC60 and XC90 models. Now though, its range has taken another step towards Volvo’s goal of becoming a fully electric car company by 2030.
The Volvo C40 Recharge is its second all-electric model and will be built at its plant in Ghent, Belgium alongside its first dedicated EV, the XC40.
TechRadar recently got a chance to not only drive the new car, but also tour the factory where the SUV is put together.
A dramatic front end and leather-free interior
As you’d expect from a Volvo, safety comes high up the list of priorities for the C40 Recharge, but there’s plenty of innovation across the design and engineering spectrum too.
This is an electric car that also comes with a leather-free interior. While there’s still plenty of luxury on offer inside the cockpit, you won’t get a whiff of animal hide.
While meat is firmly off the menu in line with its growing green values, Volvo is still offering potential buyers all of the options when it comes to specing your car.
To do this the company is making the C40 Recharge available to order online in selected markets. You’ll still need to pick up your order at a dealership, but the process seeks to streamline the car buying process.
Sitting in a parking lot outside Brussels airport the Volvo C40 Recharge certainly looks the part. It’s being billed as a compact crossover SUV, and the car clearly means business with its sleek design lines.
There’s a dramatic front end and the theme continues at the rear, especially with the sloping roofline that dips down to meet an integral rear tailgate spoiler.
Our model was finished in Fjord Blue, while the interior was a cool combination of black and soft blue shades, complimented with white stitching on the seats.
The overall feel is one of quality and it needs to be with the C40 Recharge up against the likes of Audi’s Q4 Sportback e-tron and Mercedes-Benz EQA.
Easy to drive and plenty of torque
Leaving the airport car park involved navigating one of those horrible spiral exit ramps, which seem designed to test the mettle of any car driver.
However, the high up driving position of the Volvo C40 made this an easier task than in many cars. And, as is often the case with EVs, this is a car that you just get in and go by putting your foot on the brake, moving the gear lever into drive mode and setting off in virtual silence. It’s very easy to drive without a doubt.
As we hit the highway it was immediately apparent that there was plenty of torque on offer. The C40 Recharge is built on Volvo’s Compact Modular Architecture or CMA, just like the XC40 and our car featured front and rear electric motors delivering all-wheel drive.
It feels reassuringly grippy and nicely balanced, especially when you tap into the power from its 78kWh lithium-ion battery.
EVs always give you that extra torque buzz, which makes driving the C40 Recharge a predictably dynamic experience.
The Recharge Twin AWD that we drove has a top speed of 112mph, but it’s how you get there that’s the best bit with a 0-62 time of 4.7 seconds.
In fact, Volvo figures state that each electric motor has 204hp and 330Nm, so the combined power is more than sufficient for a range of daily driving duties.
It’s got a 1,800kg towing capacity too, which might make the C40 Recharge an option for anyone with trailer or caravan needs.
There’s also the benefit of its one-pedal drive system, which allows you to use the accelerator for speeding up and slowing down.
It works to great effect when you’re having to pull in and out of truck-filled motorway lanes, but with practice becomes completely second nature the more you use it.
During our run, with everything on in terms of climate control, infotainment and so on, the C40 Recharge seemed pretty good at holding its charge too.
Volvo’s preliminary documentation put the car down as having a range of 261 miles, but has since followed it up with a confirmed 273 miles for C40 Recharge Twin Pro models that should arrive in the UK soon.
Packed with safety features
Our car came fully loaded with a suite of Google Automotive Services, which can be accessed through the 9-inch central infotainment screen.
This means you get the benefit of Google Maps, voice control and the option of dipping into the Google Play Store.
And while we didn’t need to use it, there’s a nod towards practicality too, especially if you suffer from range anxiety with an optimizer that prunes back areas of the system to conserve the battery level.
After a smooth and largely uneventful drive on the Belgian highways we got to pick the Volvo C40 Recharge through the ancient cobbled streets of Ghent.
Volvo’s penchant for packing in the safety features came into its own in this sort of environment as we navigated greasy cobbles made wet from intermittent rain. Cyclists in Ghent come at you from all angles, and there were plenty of tight spots to navigate too.
The C40 Recharge comes with Volvo’s Driver Assistance package, which is handy for engaging cruise control on those longer runs.
Around town though it’s the Driver Awareness bundle that really comes into its own. The blind spot information system is perfect for avoiding traffic bollards in tiny city streets while cross traffic alerts are pretty useful too, especially if you’re driving on unfamiliar roads.
Parking in tight spots is similarly straightforward thanks to the help you get from the 360-degree surround-view camera.
There’s also a rear collision warning system on-board if you’re about to be rear-ended. Thankfully we didn’t get to test this out.
We got full benefit of the C40’s LED headlights as darkness descended and the rain got progressively heavier. In that respect, Volvo has done a sterling job at packing all of the expected safety aids into the C40.
In the short time we got to experience it, the Volvo C40 Recharge left us with a chunky list of positives. It was roomy, with a luggage capacity up to 1,205 liters if you put the rear seats down and the comfort levels are excellent.
Our car featured a cracking Harmon Kardon audio system and that infotainment hub on the dash is robust enough for most needs. Performance is beefy too; especially thanks to the all-wheel drive system and those twin motors providing a sizeable 408 horsepower.
And, having seen the C40 Recharge being assembled, this is another Volvo that looks and feels very well put together. In typical Volvo fashion there’s a nice solid thunk when you get in and close the door. It’s the little things.
Granted, the view out of the rear window is a bit limited and the car, much like most other premium EVs, isn’t going to be cheap.
Volvo has set an on-the-road price of £57,400 / $58,750 (around AU$79,000) for a C40 Recharge like the one we drove.
However, for that you get everything you need and more besides, all backed up with plenty of Volvo’s signature safety features. Overall then, the C40 Recharge is a class act.