2022 Volvo C40 Recharge Review
Stunning style in a Swedish SUV
GHENT, Belgium — Cementing 2021 as the year of the electric car is a new offering from Volvo, one of my favorite car brands.
It's the C40 Recharge, and it's a sibling of the terrific Volvo XC40 luxury crossover. The C40 electrifies an already successful formula while imbuing the new EV with an extra dash of Swedish style.
Related: The 2020 Volvo XC40 Review
From the outside, it's easy to tell the C40 apart from its internal combustion colleagues. Though it still has the signature Thor's Hammer headlights that adorn every Volvo, the C40 sports a solid grille with a floating Volvo Ironmark in the middle rather than an open space for airflow to the engine.
It's a striking look and is a dead giveaway that this is an electric car since it doesn't need nearly as much cooling as an internal combustion vehicle might. It gives the C40 a cheerful appearance from the front, like an excited puppy.
Other than the grille, the C40 looks a lot like the XC40 until you get to the rear end. Then everything changes. It has a coupe-ish slope from the B-pillar rearward, giving the car a surprisingly aggressive posture. If you squint a bit, it looks like a sports car and is not unlike the back of a Porsche Macan (another pleasingly coupey crossover). BMW would probably call this the GranCoupe or something, but Volvo just slaps a C40 badge and calls it a day.
The only significant downside of the entire car is the absolutely atrocious rear visibility from this new sporty look. A glance in the rearview mirror is a bit pointless when it comes to seeing anything beyond a few car lengths, though the side mirrors make up for that. It's not Lamborghini Huracan levels of bad when it comes to looking behind you, but it's not great. It doesn't particularly matter in the grand scheme of things (and is the price we must pay for that sexy rear end), but it is worth calling out.
Thanks to a dual-motor setup, the C40 has all-wheel drive and makes 408 horsepower and 487 lb-ft of torque. That's good enough for a 0-60 time of 4.5 seconds, though it feels even faster thanks to the prodigious instant torque.
Its performance in traffic is even more praiseworthy, with effortless thrust from just about any speed. Merging onto the highway? Whoops, we're going 80 before the end of the ramp. Trying to pass a truck on an uphill? We're by almost before we started.
Putting this much power in such a small car is hilarious, and zipping around tight medieval cities, and smooth Belgian motorways were equally fun. I love cars that put a smile on your face, and every time I got in this car, it was easy to grin.
The interior is wonderfully appointed, as are all Volvos. But this one includes the new infotainment system powered by Google Android. It's not Android Auto but is an entirely new system rebuilt from the ground up and has extensive integration with Google services, including Maps, Assistant, and the Google Play Store.
Related: The Android Automotive OS Review
An always-on data connection means you can stream music or news through Spotify or the NPR app, and the Google Play store means developers will be able to release lots of apps designed specifically for in-car infotainment screens.
The dash cluster is another enormous digital screen with a new graphical suite. Along with easy-on-the-eyes gauges and meters, the C40 has a lovely Google Maps integration that takes over the entire center of the dash cluster. There's no head-up display (the XC40 doesn't have one either), but the dash screen is so good that I didn't miss it at all.
The C40 has Volvo's full safety suite, plus advanced driver assist systems, including Pilot Assist. That's now engaged automatically when cruise control is activated, and it provides significant steering assistance on roads with well-marked lanes. It's not hands-free driving like Ford's BlueCruise or GM's Super Cruise, but it's close. Just keep a gentle hand on the wheel, and the car can do most of the steering.
To keep things easy (and knowing its target audience), Volvo has made things really simple. There's only one trim level available in the US, and it has everything. It's the C40 Recharge Twin Ultimate (which is a mouthful), and the only thing you need to decide is what color you want — I recommend the new Fjord Blue on both the inside and the outside. A Charcoal black interior is also an option.
There's no leather option, as Volvo is slowly moving away from that (one of the other cars I saw was an XC60 with a jaw-droppingly gorgeous wool interior if you can believe that).
Of course, since it's an electric car, I should probably mention range. Volvo estimates that the C40 Recharge will receive a 225-mile range estimate from the EPA, but it has not yet been tested, and that number could change. Volvo says it will charge from 10 to 80 percent in just 37 minutes on a 150 kW charger, which is quite good.
All in, the C40 Recharge costs $60,540 after destination and a $695 upcharge for metallic paint. Given that some states offer tax incentives for EVs under $60,000, you can stay just under that number if you opt for the Black Stone paint instead.
Between the gorgeous exterior, the magnificent interior, the terrific Google infotainment system, heated seats front and rear, parking assist sensors, 20-inch wheels, a Heat Pump, and a fabulous panoramic glass roof, the C40 Recharge has everything you might want in an EV.
It's a more-than-solid competitor in the electric car wars, but we're rapidly approaching the point where folks buying a car like the C40 aren't getting it primarily because it's an EV. If you're on the market for a small luxury SUV, I'd suggest checking out the Volvo C40 Recharge. US deliveries begin early next year.