Volvo C40

Volvo’s first solely pure electric car is a landmark for the Swedish brand. John Challen finds out if the new addition to the range delivers

Volvo C40

Volvo’s first solely pure electric car is a landmark for the Swedish brand. John Challen finds out if the new addition to the range delivers

When Volvo revealed its plans for the C40 in March 2021, there was a lot of excitement but also expectation. The brand had successfully implemented hybrid technology into its existing range and the electric XC40 had impressed, but this was new territory. A vehicle designed from the outset to run on battery-power only. Out go the classic Volvo ICE powertrains, to be replaced by cells and motors.

The good news is that there’s plenty of choice of C40 model. Drivers can select one of three trim levels – Core, Plus and Ultimate – and either the Recharge or Recharge Twin battery pack. The former offers 231hp, while the latter puts out a huge 408hp – more than enough for many drivers, but helping to raise the entertainment factor of the newcomer.

Depending on how much you choose to press on, there’s a maximum driving range of 274 miles in the Recharge Twin – a figure that doesn’t differ too much (269 miles) when choosing the lower-powered model.

With that, Volvo claims an electric consumption of 3.4 miles/kWh is possible in the 67kWh C40 Recharge. Those opting for the 75kWh Recharge Twin can expect up to 3.0 miles/kWh. When it comes to replenishing the battery, reaching 80% from 10% using a 150kW rapid charger takes either 32 minutes (Recharge) or 37 minutes (Recharge Twin). Using an 11kW charger, zero to 100% takes 11 or 12 hours respectively.

The five-door crossover is, according to Volvo, a car that lets people ‘reflect their youthful personality’. That’s not ruling out those drivers who might cruise sedately in an S90 or XC90, but it has a feeling of a car for the younger generation. It’s designed for the urban environment, but its compactness is complemented by a high seating position for a more commanding view of the road. There’s still ample room inside for driver and passengers, although headroom in the rear might be a bit of an issue for some.

With the latest powertrain technology comes the latest infotainment system. The C40’s Android-powered and Google-developed system features navigation via fully integrated Google Maps, Google Assistant and easy access to Google’s Play Store. These functions are accessed via the 9-inch touchscreen, which displays the different functions and settings clearly, enabling easy navigation through the menus. Volvo is quick to point out that the screen can even be used by drivers wearing gloves – a rare occurrence when it comes to vehicle interfaces. Fleet drivers should also be encouraged by a BiK of just £15 a month for the Recharge Core and encouraging RVs (54%, based on February 2022 data) from Cap HPI.

Volvo’s XC40 Recharge has been described as a modern (electric) day version of the 1980s hot hatch due to its performance. The C40 – in Recharge Twin form, certainly – does nothing to make people think otherwise. Zero to 62mph in under five seconds makes it a quick car, but there is so much more to the crossover than that. For those looking to take things a little easier, the effective regenerative braking system enables plenty of power to be conserved, helping to maximise those miles. Driving in town is also a pleasure, the C40’s ride being compliant and steering light enough, but still with plenty of feel.

As a pre-cursor of what car manufacturers' vehicle ranges will look from 2030, there’s a lot of encouragement in what this Volvo offers.

Which model is right for you?

Arguably, the biggest decision to be made with the C40 is how much power is required. The 407hp Recharge Twin is a quick car, but the Recharge – with its 231hp is certainly no slouch. For those predominantly in the urban environment, the latter would fit the bill, but the Twin will raise more smiles.

The specification levels of each model in the range are generous. For example, Core offers – as standard – powered tailgate, two-zone climate control, wireless charging and cruise control. As you might expect from Volvo, there’s also a plethora of safety features such as City Safety and Oncoming Lane Mitigation.

Moving up to Plus gets drivers: heated seats (front and rear) and steering wheel; a rear packing camera and front parking sensors. Move up to Ultimate and the C40 adds in a 360° surround view parking camera, a Harman Kardon surround sound system and active bending LED headlights.


Volvo C40 Recharge/Recharge Twin


Give an EV-sceptic some time in the C40 and there’s a very good chance they’ll be converted. The crossover is well put together, offers great performance and comes in appearance that looks – judging by the amount of vehicles in the segment – like it is here to stay for a while. There’s even plenty of miles in the ‘tank’ to prevent any feelings of range anxiety!


WHAT IS IT? Compact crossover

HOW MUCH? from £44,800

HOW FAR? up to 274 miles (combined WLTP)

HOW LONG TO CHARGE 10-80%? 32 minutes (150kW DC rapid charger)

Key fleet model Volvo C40 Recharge/Recharge Twin

👍 Performance, infotainment system, fun to drive

👎 Rear visibility; rear headroom (for some)

7-word summary Good electric things come in small(er) packages

Also consider Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron / Mercedes-Benz EQA

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