Volvo's aim is to offer only electric vehicles by 2030, which is less than eight years from today. They are joined by Cadillac, Jaguar, Renault, and Rolls Royce in announcing that its entire lineup will soon drop internal combustion engines to make way for the exclusive use of fully-electric powertrains.  

We recently had the opportunity to drive the brand's second all-electric offering, the C40 Recharge around the Palm Springs area of California, including a quick trip over to Joshua Tree National Park. 

Quick Stats 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge
Motor Synchronous, permanent magnet
Power 2 - 204 hp (150 kW) Total output: 408 hp (300 kW)
0-60 4.5 seconds
Charging speeds 11 kW (Level 2) 150 kW (DC fast charge)
Range 226 miles (EPA)
Battery pack 78 kWh (total capacity) 75 kWh (usable capacity)
Price as tested $59,845 (before incentives)

We've already driven the Volvo XC40 Recharge on multiple occasions, and have always loved the driving experience. The C40 Recharge is the "coupe" version of the XC40 Recharge, and besides the sloped hatch which reduces rear headroom and available cargo space, it's very hard to tell the difference between the two. And that's mostly a good thing.

The driving dynamics are excellent. The C40 Recharge is well balanced, the steering has just the right amount of feedback, and isn't too heavy. Volvo claims the C40 Recharge can accelerate from a standstill to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds which is slightly faster than its sibling, the XC40 Recharge, but honestly, it feels even faster than that. 

Both vehicles share the same 400+ hp, 487-lb-ft dual-motor powertrain.  

The C40 Recharge has 7" of ground clearance, so we jumped at the opportunity to venture slightly off of the course that Volvo selected for us and do a little off-roading. The vehicle was surprisingly capable and took on the challenge without showing any signs of difficulty. 

The seating position is also very high and offers very good outward vision, save the tiny rear window that is a result of the sloped rear hatch. The interior is virtually the same as in the XC40 Recharge, with its Scandinavian design more than just subtly apparent. Much of the interior materials are made from recycled materials yet they still look and feel premium. Volvo tells us that the C40 Recharge is the first vehicle ever offered by Volvo that doesn't offer a real leather option.

“There is no long-term future for cars with an internal combustion engine,” said Henrik Green, chief technology officer. 

The 9" center display looks a bit puny compared to many of the other BEV choices in this category. Its low positioning isn't ideal either, as I much prefer screens that are higher on the dash so my eyes don't have to look down quite as much. It's much better (and I suspect safer) if you only have to look quickly to your right than to your right and also down to view the screen.  

The native Android operating system works wonderfully with voice commands to perform touch-free functions like changing the cabin temperature and entering a destination in the navigation system. The touchscreen interface isn't as snappy as the best systems we've tested, but it's not nearly as laggy as the systems found in the Volkswagen ID.4 or the Jaguar I-Pace

Gallery: 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge

Charging up

Just as in the Volvo XC40 Recharge - and Polestar 2, the C40 Recharge has a 78 kWh battery pack, of which 75 kWh is the usable capacity. Since Volvo allows such a high percentage of the total battery pack to be utilized, the manufacturer recommends charging to no more than 90% for daily charging, and there is a prompt in the charging settings to remind you of that. Owners set the maximum charging level in the vehicle settings and can adjust it to suit their range needs on any given day. 

The maximum charge rate on a 240-volt level 2 charging station is 11 kW, and the C40 Recharge comes with a dual-voltage 120-v / 240-v portable charging cable that can deliver 40-amps (9.6 kW) to the vehicle and will fully charge it from zero to 100% in about nine hours. Customers can elect to purchase a 48-amp charging station and charge slightly faster. A 48-amp (11 kW) charging station can fully recharge the C40 Recharge in eight hours. 

As for DC fast charging, the C40 Recharge has a maximum DC fast charge rate of 150 kW and Volvo says it will recharge from 10% to 80% in 37 minutes. As always, we prefer to do our own DC fast charge recordings to analyze the entire charging curve. 

Therefore, we obtained special permission from Volvo to take our vehicle out for a longer test drive than the rest of the invited journalists to allow us to draw the battery down to zero and record a full 0 to 100% charging session on an Electrify America 350 kW DC fast charging station. We'd like to thank the folks at Volvo for giving us that special permission, even though they were a bit afraid that we would run out and need to be towed - something that PR managers that run these media drives have nightmares about. 

But we convinced them that we knew what knew were doing, and they allowed us to go for it. However, it wasn't to be. We drove it down to zero and plugged it in. The charging session started out fine. We were up to 20% state of charge after eight minutes and C40 Recharge was accepting 143 kW when the charging station made a popping noise and shut off. We quickly plugged it back into another station, but that station would only deliver 43 kW to the car, so we gave up. So much for mapping out the full charging curve.

Volvo representatives did promise to get us a C40 Recharge for a loan once they are available in the coming months. When that happens, we'll do our 70-mph range test as well as complete DC fast charge recordings. 

Volvo doesn't offer the usual Sport, Normal and Eco drive modes usually found on EVs (although they typically have distinctive names for each brand). There are only Drive and "B Drive" modes that are selected by pulling the gear shifter back once more after putting it in Drive. To return to Drive, you pull the shifter back again.

The B Drive mode increases the level of regenerative braking but doesn't place the vehicle into a one-pedal driving mode. For that, the driver needs to manually select one-pedal driving from the settings in the infotainment system. I found the level of regen perfectly suited to my taste in B mode for secondary roads, and in Drive for the highways. When selected, the one-pedal driving worked perfectly, with a smooth transition from rolling slowly to a complete stop.

Volvo C40 Recharge efficiency

Efficiency is an issue

We drove the vehicle a little less than 200 miles and averaged 38.1 kWh per 100 miles, which translates to 2.62 miles per kWh. If we multiply that consumption rate by the usable battery capacity of 75 kWh we get 197 miles, 29 miles less than the official EPA range rating. That's not too surprising since we were driving the C40 pretty hard, testing out the acceleration and we also had our short off-road stint. I suspect if I were driving it normally, I would come close to 220 miles on a full charge. 

It was range-friendly temperatures for most of the day - high 70's F (29°C) to high 80's F (31°C), so I would expect the C40 Recharge to struggle to get 200 miles per charge in colder temperatures. However it does come with a heat-pump system, so that should help its cold-weather efficiency a bit. 

But efficiency is a problem for the C40 Recharge, as it is for the XC 40 Recharge and Polestar vehicles. All three of those EVs drive wonderfully and are all very good in their own right. However, Volvo needs to figure out how to improve its efficiency. For instance, the Tesla Model Y is a larger crossover and has nearly the same size battery, yet its EPA range rating is 330 miles - 33% higher than the C40 Recharge.

Volvo C40 Recharge EPA
Volvo C40 Recharge vs Volvo XC40 Recharge vs Tesla Model Y EPA comparison

Standard drivers assist features

We were able to test C40 recharge's Pilot Assist ADAS system out on our long highway drive to deplete the battery and everything worked flawlessly. The C40 Recharge comes standard with a comprehensive set of driver-assistance features, including adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping aid, and emergency braking assist.

In fact, The C40 Recharge is very easy to order because everything available on the vehicle comes standard except for metallic paint, which is a $695 option. Speaking of which, all of the C40 Recharge vehicles used in the first drive event were clad in Volvo's distinctive Fjord Blue, which looked fantastic on the vehicles.

It all adds up to an MSRP of $59,845, which is a full $3,450 more than the XC40 Recharge. For that, you get 3 more miles of EPA-rated range (226 miles vs 223 miles), arguably more sporty styling, and ever-so-slightly better performance. On the downside, you have to sacrifice rear headroom and cargo space. 

It's a shame that the smaller, coupe versions of vehicles cost more. Another prime example is the Audi e-Tron and the e-Tron Sportback. You get less vehicle, yet pay more.

Overall I was really impressed with the C40 Recharge. I was expecting it to be very good because I am a fan of the XC40 Recharge (except for its efficiency), but it exceeded my expectations. If this is the direction of Volvo's new electric future, then I believe the brand will do just fine. 

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