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First drive: Volvo C40 Recharge

Date: 22 April 2022   |   Author: Martyn Collins

More than a curvier XC40, the C40 is Volvo's first electric-only model.
Standard equipment:
Heated front sports seats, power driver's seat, 20in alloy wheels, front and rear LED light lights, 360° reversing camera, Google built in, Sensus Connect with Premium Harmon Kardon sound, multifunction steering wheel, climate control, keyless drive.
Electric: 78kWh/408hp
Equipment grades:
Core, Plus, Ultimate
Single speed automatic

The cynical among us might think that the C40 is a curvier, coupe version of the all-electric XC40 SUV. However, Volvo has been cleverer than that, as the crossover segment is a growing area of the market and, being electric only, it is bang on trend for company drivers. In further positive news the XC40 is Volvo's biggest seller in the UK, with 32% choosing the all-electric Recharge versions.

From the front, the C40 looks unchanged from the XC40 Recharge, but we will not hold this against it, as despite the standard model being on sale for four years, that Volvo still looks sharp inside and out. It is all change at the back of the C40 though, with the new coupe-like tail. 

The first thing you spot is the twin rear spoilers, the larger one on the roof and the smaller one on the tailgate. These are not just for show either, although they do give added aggression to the rear, as Volvo tells us they reduce air resistance by 4%. Then, there is the glass roof that is standard on all C40 models, giving welcome extra light in the cabin. The look is completed by the LED rear lights that follow the vertical window line of the tailgate and then curve around it. It is just a shame the rear vision is so compromised from the inside.

Inside, despite the curvier rear and neat, new, backlit 3D dashboard and door trims, it is identical to the XC40. Leg and shoulder room are fine front and back, but taller passengers will find their heads brushing the headlining because of the curvier roof line. That roofline also means 413 litres of boot space, which is less than the XC40. However, it is still a practical space and can be extended with the rear seats folded. Plus, without an engine at the front, there's an extra 31-litre "frunk", mostly for storing cables where the engine used to be. 

Also shared with the XC40 and gradually being rolled out across the range is Volvo's new version of the central display with its configurable tiles. Powered by Android with Google Assistant, it is slicker to operate than Volvo's old Sensus infotainment system. Yet there are some odd quirks, such as having to look in the Range Assistant app to find out how many miles you have left because it is not on the other 12.3in screen for the instruments.  

Twin engine C40 models come first, so surprise, surprise, this Volvo feels largely the same as the twin engine version of the XC40 Recharge. And that felt like a taller version of the Polestar 2 - which is a good thing. 

Like the Polestar, despite its tall stance and the considerable 2,185kg weight, the C40's handling is surprisingly agile.  The steering is accurate, although it could really do with more feel. The C40 even rides decently on the standard 20in alloy wheels. Volvo's first crossover is not particularly sporty, but its acceleration and performance are another level and surprise and amuse in equal measure. 

Like the XC40 Recharge and Polestar 2, the C40 sits on the same Common Modular Architecture (CMA). Therefore, this Volvo is powered by a 78kWh battery, which feeds two electric motors on both axles, equalling four-wheel drive, 408hp, plus a mighty 660Nm of torque and all with 2% BIK for company car buyers. Volvo claims a violent 4.7s acceleration to 60mph and having spent time with the car, both this and the 257-mile range seem totally believable.  

The C40 can be charged via both AC and DC sources - with two cables included: a 7m Mode 2 cable that can be plugged into any domestic socket, plus a 4.5m Mode 3 faster charging cable. It can take up to 12 hours to get to fully charged from an 11kW wall box. However, if you can find one of the latest 150kW fast chargers, the battery can be charged from 10% to 80% in 37 minutes. 

Considering the performance, the C40 is very simple to drive: all you need to start is to select a gear and off you go. Like the XC40 Recharge before it, the C40 impresses with the level of re-engineering that has gone into it - along with the even more attractive styling. But unless you must have the crossover look, the XC40 Recharge drives much the same, is more practical and cheaper. 

Volvo C40 Recharge Ultimate 

P11D: £53,845

Residual value: 46.3%

Depreciation: £28,893

Fuel: £2,781

Service, maintenance and repair: £1,911

Cost per mile: 54.97p

CO2 (BIK %): 0g/km (2%) 

BIK 20/40% a month: £18/£36

Luggage capacity: 413 litres

Engine size/power: 78kWh/408hp


  • Styling
  • Performance
  • Comfort
  • Compromised rear headroom and vision
  • Expensive