Volvo C40 Recharge first-drive review: Born-Electric SUV that's ready for war

₹70 lakh onwards (expected)
4 out of 5
Pros
  • Powerful drive dynamics
  • Stylish visual cues on the outside
Cons
  • Cabin lacks the plush feel
  • Volvo C40 Recharge may not be the flashiest of luxury electric cars around but it may well be the most practical.
The C40 Recharge is ready and raring for the Indian electric car market and will be the second BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) from the brand here, after the XC40 Recharge. But unlike the XC40 Recharge that is based on the XC40 SUV, the C40 is a ground-up EV. This means it has been specifically designed and developed to be an EV and has no ICE (internal combustion engine) alternative.
The C40 Recharge from Volvo is essentially a crossover electric SUV and that is best seen from its sharply sloping roofline. The EV isn't radical in its exterior styling and yet manages to stand out with its modern design cues. The closed front grille, for example, is in the shade of the body colour while the head lights make use of Pixel technology for better illumination.
The C40 Recharge stands on 19-inch five-spoke alloy wheel which, once again, are not exactly unique but do offer a fair bit of character to the side profile. The Pirelli low-resistance tyres go with the claim of enhancing range of this EV. But the biggest highlight are the two separate spoilers towards the rear which, once again, help in enhancing the range of the model.
The cabin of the C40 Recharge is a bit too typically Volvo which essentially means that it leans heavily in favour of simplicity than an outright wow factor. A vertically-oriented infotainment screen is the main highlight while Volvo says a lot of sustainable materials have been made use of. There is an all-digital driver display too and it is par for the course even though the feature list is just about adequate.
The steering-mounted controls are standard fare but look closer and the hard-plastics used in many areas - especially generously on the dashboard - look a bit too plebian for this segment.
The C40 Recharge offers the perfect amount of space for four persons but while the cushioning on all seats is at par with all Volvo models, squeezing in a third passenger on these rear seats would be tight.
The C40 Recharge comes with a plethora of radars, cameras and sensors for driving assistance, as well as a 13-speaker sound system. But the unique highlight is a fixed panoramic sunroof which boasts of UV-protection film and infrared protection coating.
This particular Volvo EV model is equipped with a 78 kWh battery pack and the WLTP-certified range figure is at a healthy 530 kms. In real world conditions, this should translate to a range of around 400 kms which too should suffice for most.
The biggest strength of the C40 Recharge, however, is not in its range but its extremely engaging drive credentials. There is 408 hp and an astounding 660 Nm of torque for the taking. The torque, in particular, is impressive considering the proportions of the EV.
The Volvo EV handles itself extremely well regardless of whether one is pushing pedal to the metal or is in the mood for a casual daily drive. The steady nature of the EV is complimented well with great control over NVH levels and the steering is quite precise on turns as well. The suspension, however, is a bit too stiff.
Power ratio, unlike on the XC40 Recharge where it is divided 50:50, leans more in favour of the rear wheels. There is also an auto mode in the one-pedal drive tech which further enhances the ease of driving.
View all Images
The C40 Recharge is the first Volvo EV which has been developed from the ground up.
The C40 Recharge is ready and raring for the Indian electric car market and will be the second BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) from the brand here, after the XC40 Recharge. But unlike the XC40 Recharge that is based on the XC40 SUV, the C40 is a ground-up EV. This means it has been specifically designed and developed to be an EV and has no ICE (internal combustion engine) alternative.
1/11
The C40 Recharge is ready and raring for the Indian electric car market and will be the second BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) from the brand here, after the XC40 Recharge. But unlike the XC40 Recharge that is based on the XC40 SUV, the C40 is a ground-up EV. This means it has been specifically designed and developed to be an EV and has no ICE (internal combustion engine) alternative.
The C40 Recharge from Volvo is essentially a crossover electric SUV and that is best seen from its sharply sloping roofline. The EV isn't radical in its exterior styling and yet manages to stand out with its modern design cues. The closed front grille, for example, is in the shade of the body colour while the head lights make use of Pixel technology for better illumination.
2/11
The C40 Recharge from Volvo is essentially a crossover electric SUV and that is best seen from its sharply sloping roofline. The EV isn't radical in its exterior styling and yet manages to stand out with its modern design cues. The closed front grille, for example, is in the shade of the body colour while the head lights make use of Pixel technology for better illumination.
The C40 Recharge stands on 19-inch five-spoke alloy wheel which, once again, are not exactly unique but do offer a fair bit of character to the side profile. The Pirelli low-resistance tyres go with the claim of enhancing range of this EV. But the biggest highlight are the two separate spoilers towards the rear which, once again, help in enhancing the range of the model.
3/11
The C40 Recharge stands on 19-inch five-spoke alloy wheel which, once again, are not exactly unique but do offer a fair bit of character to the side profile. The Pirelli low-resistance tyres go with the claim of enhancing range of this EV. But the biggest highlight are the two separate spoilers towards the rear which, once again, help in enhancing the range of the model.
The cabin of the C40 Recharge is a bit too typically Volvo which essentially means that it leans heavily in favour of simplicity than an outright wow factor. A vertically-oriented infotainment screen is the main highlight while Volvo says a lot of sustainable materials have been made use of. There is an all-digital driver display too and it is par for the course even though the feature list is just about adequate.
4/11
The cabin of the C40 Recharge is a bit too typically Volvo which essentially means that it leans heavily in favour of simplicity than an outright wow factor. A vertically-oriented infotainment screen is the main highlight while Volvo says a lot of sustainable materials have been made use of. There is an all-digital driver display too and it is par for the course even though the feature list is just about adequate.
The steering-mounted controls are standard fare but look closer and the hard-plastics used in many areas - especially generously on the dashboard - look a bit too plebian for this segment.
5/11
The steering-mounted controls are standard fare but look closer and the hard-plastics used in many areas - especially generously on the dashboard - look a bit too plebian for this segment.
The C40 Recharge offers the perfect amount of space for four persons but while the cushioning on all seats is at par with all Volvo models, squeezing in a third passenger on these rear seats would be tight.
6/11
The C40 Recharge offers the perfect amount of space for four persons but while the cushioning on all seats is at par with all Volvo models, squeezing in a third passenger on these rear seats would be tight.
The C40 Recharge comes with a plethora of radars, cameras and sensors for driving assistance, as well as a 13-speaker sound system. But the unique highlight is a fixed panoramic sunroof which boasts of UV-protection film and infrared protection coating.
7/11
The C40 Recharge comes with a plethora of radars, cameras and sensors for driving assistance, as well as a 13-speaker sound system. But the unique highlight is a fixed panoramic sunroof which boasts of UV-protection film and infrared protection coating.
This particular Volvo EV model is equipped with a 78 kWh battery pack and the WLTP-certified range figure is at a healthy 530 kms. In real world conditions, this should translate to a range of around 400 kms which too should suffice for most.
8/11
This particular Volvo EV model is equipped with a 78 kWh battery pack and the WLTP-certified range figure is at a healthy 530 kms. In real world conditions, this should translate to a range of around 400 kms which too should suffice for most.
The biggest strength of the C40 Recharge, however, is not in its range but its extremely engaging drive credentials. There is 408 hp and an astounding 660 Nm of torque for the taking. The torque, in particular, is impressive considering the proportions of the EV.
9/11
The biggest strength of the C40 Recharge, however, is not in its range but its extremely engaging drive credentials. There is 408 hp and an astounding 660 Nm of torque for the taking. The torque, in particular, is impressive considering the proportions of the EV.
The Volvo EV handles itself extremely well regardless of whether one is pushing pedal to the metal or is in the mood for a casual daily drive. The steady nature of the EV is complimented well with great control over NVH levels and the steering is quite precise on turns as well. The suspension, however, is a bit too stiff.
10/11
The Volvo EV handles itself extremely well regardless of whether one is pushing pedal to the metal or is in the mood for a casual daily drive. The steady nature of the EV is complimented well with great control over NVH levels and the steering is quite precise on turns as well. The suspension, however, is a bit too stiff.
Power ratio, unlike on the XC40 Recharge where it is divided 50:50, leans more in favour of the rear wheels. There is also an auto mode in the one-pedal drive tech which further enhances the ease of driving.
11/11
Power ratio, unlike on the XC40 Recharge where it is divided 50:50, leans more in favour of the rear wheels. There is also an auto mode in the one-pedal drive tech which further enhances the ease of driving.

Volvo may not be as aggressive as some of its German rivals when it comes to rolling out a plethora of car models but when it comes to electric vehicles (EVs), there is a firm plan in place. Did you know that every new Volvo model from now will also have an electric motor? Or that the company plans to put out one million electrified cars on the road by 2025? Or that it aims to be an all-electric brand by 2030? Forming a core part of such ambitions is the C40 Recharge, Volvo's first-ever Born-Electric model.

The significance of the Volvo C40 Recharge can be gauged from a singular fact that there is no petrol/diesel alternative of it. So while the XC40 Recharge is based on the XC40 SUV, the C40 Recharge has to chart its own course, create its own mark and potentially craft a legacy all on its own. And soon after the launch of the XC40 Recharge in India, the C40 Recharge is warming up for its debut in the country as well. The field is lit up with all-electric options galore and the task to challenge some very formidable rivals won't be easy. But easy may not be what Volvo is gunning for anyway.

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Here is the first-drive review of the Volvo C40 Recharge EV:

Volvo C40 Recharge EV: Sighting a Swedish Sensation

The C40 Recharge from Volvo is a crossover SUV and this is best defined by how the EV is designed on the outside. Available in as many as six colour options, here is a modern-looking EV that isn't trying to hard to grab your attention. But it still is more than likely to do just that.

C40 Recharge
C40 Recharge is offered in six body colour options - White, Black, Red, Blue, Green and Fjord Blue (in pic).
C40 Recharge
C40 Recharge is offered in six body colour options - White, Black, Red, Blue, Green and Fjord Blue (in pic).

Here is a Volvo that is essentially a coupe-version of the XC40 Recharge in many ways, and stands lower and sleeker too. The newer of the two model is 1,582 mm tall and that's 70 mm less than the XC40 Recharge. But that swooping roofline gives the C40 Recharge a far sportier visual appeal while the LED tail light design - complete with its own welcome and farewell signatures - adds further appeal. There are also two separate spoilers at the rear which, the company claims, enhanced the range by around eight per cent.

C40 Recharge
Twin spoilers and low-resistance tyres seek to enhance the per-drive range of the C40 Recharge.
C40 Recharge
Twin spoilers and low-resistance tyres seek to enhance the per-drive range of the C40 Recharge.

The C40 Recharge stands on 19-inch five-spoke alloy wheels and the low-roll resistance tyres also enhance range. But move to the front of the vehicle and the extremely strong Volvo genes become the most clear - a closed front grille in the same colour shade as the rest of the body, trademark DRL design and pronounced bonnet are familiar bits. The headlights make use of Pixel technology which, according to Volvo, allows for better illumination and control over glare.

The one letdown though is that there is still just one charging inlet on the EV - at the rear right. At a time when a few rival brands are offering charging inlets on both sides for added convenience when parking next to a charge point, Volvo could have gone the extra mile too.

Volvo C40 Recharge EV: Same whiff of Scandinavian aesthetics

The Volvo C40 Recharge has a well-appointed cabin that isn't the epitome of luxury but still manages to tick several right boxes. The dashboard layout is typically clean and sports the very familiar vertically-oriented infotainment screen. There is also an inlay of backlit decor on the passenger side of the dashboard. But then again, there is quite a lot of hard plastics that is on play too which shows that cost constraints may have been omnipresent.

C40 Recharge
C40 Recharge gets two cabin colour options.
C40 Recharge
C40 Recharge gets two cabin colour options.

The feature list inside the C40 Recharge includes power adjustable front seats, a fixed panoramic sunroof with UV protection, 13-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, wireless phone charging pad and air purification system.

Space inside is adequate for four occupants but squeezing a third in the back seat may not be a great idea. There is decent knee, leg, head and shoulder room for two though which means long highway journeys would be quite a comfortable experience.

C40 Recharge
The rear seats of the C40 Recharge are relatively plush but best only for two passengers.
C40 Recharge
The rear seats of the C40 Recharge are relatively plush but best only for two passengers.

Overall, the cabin experience could have been even better if the feature list was more extensive and there was a bit more of bling, especially considering how a fair share of EV buyers are relatively young. But as a Volvo package, the C40 Recharge interiors are par for the course.

But can the Volvo C40 Recharge EV handle both daily and long highway journeys with equal skill sets?

Volvo C40 Recharge EV: Electrifying power

The biggest strength of the XC40 Recharge is in its powerful drive dynamics. And it is the same with the C40 Recharge. A 78 kWh battery pack forms the core of the C40 Recharge and while the claimed WLTP-rated range is at around 530 kms, the real-world figure ought to be more in the region of 400 kms to 420 kms.

C40 Recharge
C40 Recharge has a spirited drive performance and character, much like the XC40 Recharge, its squareback sibling.
C40 Recharge
C40 Recharge has a spirited drive performance and character, much like the XC40 Recharge, its squareback sibling.

But while the range will take a substantial hit if any EV is driven aggressively, the C40 Recharge deserves to be handled for fun. With 408 hp and a mammoth 660 Nm of torque to pull an EV of this shape and size, this Volvo hurls forward like a possessed roller-coaster. Every minute push of the throttle is met with an instant response and the automatic gearbox battles past numbers with arrogant ease. The power distribution is 60:40 between the rear and front wheels further help matters. Volvo claims that C40 Recharge goes from 0 to 100 kmph in 4.7 seconds and while we did not test this due to adverse weather conditions, we have little doubt in this.

C40 Recharge
The spread of power on the C40 Recharge is now biased in favour of the rear wheels unlike the 50:50 split on the XC40 Recharge.
C40 Recharge
The spread of power on the C40 Recharge is now biased in favour of the rear wheels unlike the 50:50 split on the XC40 Recharge.

The C40 Recharge also offers one-pedal drive technology with an auto mode to precisely assist driving and braking duties. And while this in itself works flawlessly, there is no dedicated button to engage it. Instead, one will have to make use of the ‘Settings’ tab on the display screen which is a clear safety hazard on the move.

But the Volvo EV does offer a wide variety of active and passive safety highlights while also offering assisted drive functionalities. These functionalities, however, were not tested during the course of this particular review.

Overall, the Volvo C40 Recharge is an extremely fun car to drive and has an impressive claimed range. It can do drag races just as easily as it can handle casually comfortable daily rides.

Volvo C40 Recharge EV: Verdict

C40 Recharge
The Volvo C40 Recharge is a unique crossover SUV that has the visual appeal and strong drive character to back its case. A more extensive feature list, however, could have helped its case.
C40 Recharge
The Volvo C40 Recharge is a unique crossover SUV that has the visual appeal and strong drive character to back its case. A more extensive feature list, however, could have helped its case.

The Volvo C40 Recharge is not leaps and bounds ahead in terms of its design or cabin features when compared to some of the electric offerings from Korean mass-market brands like Hyundai and Kia. And yet, it is a confident offering from the Swedish brand that is looking at under-cutting its German rivals.

The biggest strength of the C40 Recharge lies in how spirited it is to drive and the slew of safety features - active and passive - that Volvo offers on it. Expected to be priced at a premium over the XC40 Recharge which is at around 60 lakh (ex-showroom) at present.

First Published Date: 26 Aug 2023, 10:00 AM IST
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