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Driven: 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge Has an Appealing Mix of Style and Tech

Driven: 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge Has an Appealing Mix of Style and Tech

Forward-thinking right out of the box

What is the C40 Recharge?

The Volvo C40 Recharge is a new fully electric vehicle that aims to bring both tailpipe emissions-free power and coupe-like styling to the compact luxury crossover SUV class. It also provides a glimpse into the future of Volvo via its battery technology and an online-only buying process that the company says will soon become the norm across its EV lineup.

Every C40 Recharge is equipped with impressive technology features. There are twin electric motors, one each at the front and rear, while range and other features can be improved over time through over-the-air updates. It also has unlimited mobile data and a leather-free interior. These qualities should make the C40 Recharge appealing to EV shoppers seeking not only the latest and greatest tech but also innovative design and environmental sensitivity.

What's powering the C40 Recharge?

The C40 Recharge shares its dual-motor all-wheel-drive powertrain with the related Volvo XC40 and the Polestar 2. Maximum output is 402 horsepower and 486 lb-ft of torque, which is a bit more than what similar dual-motor-equipped versions of EVs such as the Ford Mustang Mach-E and Hyundai Ioniq 5 produce.

Power for the C40 Recharge comes from a 78-kWh battery pack. At maximum capacity it provides an EPA-estimated range of 226 miles. Volvo says it plans to issue remote software updates over the course of ownership to improve range capacity as well. The battery can be replenished to 80% of its capacity in just 40 minutes with the use of a DC fast-charging station. As an added bonus, Volvo is providing C40 Recharge owners with a complimentary 250 kWh of electricity at Electrify America's DC charging stations. When charging at home with 220-volt power, the C40's onboard 11-kW charger will fully charge the battery in about eight hours.

What's the C40 like to drive?

Volvo estimates the C40 Recharge will hit 60 mph in 4.7 seconds, and after our time behind the wheel, we have little reason to doubt that claim. Power delivery is immediate and robust and what you'd expect from a luxury-branded EV. The C40 showed no hesitation in pulling smartly away from a stoplight or passing vehicles on a mountain road.

We're also impressed with the C40's regenerative braking. Refreshingly, there are only two settings, on or off, and when on, the deceleration is much stronger than in some other electric vehicles. One-pedal driving is a breeze, and the system will slow the C40 down to 3 miles per hour before seamlessly handing the complete stop over to the regular friction brakes. It's an effortless and intuitive experience no matter how you drive the C40 Recharge.

We were less enamored with the C40's rather stiff ride. It's not uncomfortable, but it makes the C40's ride quality a bit ponderous or choppy at times. We have no doubt the model's estimated curb weight of more than 4,800 pounds has a lot to do with it, but we think the 20-inch wheels and low-profile tires play a role. That said, body control is quite good and the C40 has no problem traversing a mountain road at a healthy pace. Like the regenerative braking, there are no drive modes or suspension settings, so even if we wish the C40 offered a softer ride we appreciate Volvo's move away from the growing trend of unnecessary settings and modes.

How comfortable is the C40 Recharge?

Firm ride aside, the C40 recharge offers a comfortable environment for driver and passengers. We'd expect nothing less than very comfortable and supportive seats in a Volvo, and the C40 doesn't disappoint. Upholstered with synthetic fabrics made from recycled materials, the seats look and feel modern and premium.

Rear passengers don't have quite the headroom they'd have in the more traditionally styled XC40 Recharge, but there's still more than enough for most folks, and the standard panoramic sunroof goes a long way toward alleviating any feeling of claustrophobia. The climate control system can be controlled through the touchscreen or by voice and did a solid job during our test drive. With exterior temperatures hovering near 90 degrees, the air conditioning never missed a beat and never felt or sounded strained when cooling the cabin.

Tire noise proved to be a bit more prominent than we'd like, especially at city speeds. One of the hallmarks of EVs is the lack of noise created by an internal combustion engine. While that can make for a near silent drive, road and wind noise becomes more noticeable. It's nothing that can't be covered up with some music, but you will hear the road more than you might expect in a luxury car.

How's the C40 Recharge's interior?

The C40 has the first completely leather-free interior from Volvo. Designers admit there was a challenge in creating a luxurious feel from recycled materials, but the interior exudes Scandinavian style and looks and feels upscale and modern. The dashboard inlay in the rough style of a topographical map (it lights up at night) only adds to the C40's distinctive style.

It's true that the C40's coupe-like sloping roofline reduces rear headroom compared to what's available from the more conventional XC40 Recharge. But thanks to some clever packaging — including mounting the hatch struts outside the bodywork and covering them with something resembling a spoiler — rear headroom isn't as tight as in some other coupe-like SUVs. What does suffer is rear visibility. The back window is quite short, and when looking through the rearview mirror, you feel as if you're peering through a slightly larger mail slot. The standard surround-view camera goes a long way toward making up for the style-based compromises.

How's the C40 Recharge's tech?

Volvo worked with Google to develop its in-car tech and the result is a very well-integrated voice-activated car management system. Running the Android Automotive operating system, many Google apps (Maps, Assistant and Play Store, for example) are all a part of the system. Graphics on the 9-inch touchscreen are crisp, and the four-tile home screen is easy to read and navigate. Google's voice recognition is excellent and we had no trouble entering complex destination addresses, changing the radio station, or adjusting the climate control on the first attempt. If you own an iPhone, fear not; Apple CarPlay is supported as well.

But the first piece of trick tech you're likely to notice is what Volvo calls the Convenient Entry and Start system. With the key in your pocket, the C40 senses when you sit in the driver's seat, turns itself on, and is ready to go without so much as the push of a button. Just select your gear and go. The C40 Recharge also comes standard with a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel and a 13-speaker, 600-watt Harman Kardon audio system.

Volvo has included an impressive array of advanced driver aids with the C40 Recharge. These include adaptive cruise control, adaptive LED foglights, lane keeping assist and parking sensors, among others. We found the systems to work effectively without any false alarms or confusion during our initial testing.

How's the C40 Recharge's storage?

There's less cargo capacity under the power-operated hatch than in the more upright XC40 Recharge, and that's already a pretty small SUV. There's suitable space for everyday hauling of groceries and the like, but you're not going to be able to fit lots of luggage or other large bulky items. The frunk has less than 1 cubic foot of capacity and shouldn't be counted on to hold anything other than a charging cable and possibly a blanket or other basic supplies. Small-item storage is more generous thanks to the center console, various cubbies and large door pockets.

If you'd like to tow with your C40, you're in luck. Volvo rates its EV to tow up to 2,000 pounds, which is the same capacity as the Polestar 2 and XC40 Recharge.

Edmunds says

No more fussing around — Volvo is clearly committed to a fully EV future. The C40 Recharge is the next step toward a lineup that Volvo says will be electric-only by 2030. The C40 Recharge brings a bold new style not only to Volvo, but to the compact luxury EV segment. Its use of innovative interior materials and high-powered user interface should also help it stand out from the crowd. We look forward to running the C40 Recharge through our rigorous testing and evaluation process as well as our real-world EV range test. Stay tuned to Edmunds for those results.