The Swedish car maker’s C40 Recharge is only available as an EV (there will be no petrol or hybrid variants) and it’s manufactured using a variety of sustainable materials.
For instance, the carpets are made from 71 recycled plastic PET bottles, and thanks to renewable wool fibres, it’s the first Volvo to feature leather-free upholstery.
In fact, the car itself (C is for Crossover) has something of a recycled feel to it because it shares its EV powertrain and much of its body with the big-selling XC40.
Unlike its sibling, it has a lower roof line and steeply-raked rear window, while the front end features Volvo’s signature Thor’s Hammer headlights, now augmented with pixel technology designed to avoid dazzling other road users.
It’s also fitted with the latest version of Volvo’s excellent infotainment system, jointly developed with Google and based on the Android operating system.
So now there’s access to Google Play apps and services like Google Assistant and Google Maps. It’s also capable of over-the-air updates, which means the car is constantly kept up to date with the latest software.
The voice commands (prompted by “Hey Google”) usefully cut down on the swiping, pinching and scrolling otherwise needed to control the features within a (modestly sized) 9.0-inch central touchscreen.
Volvo claims the C40 Recharge provides buyers with the high seating position that its owners prefer. The reality is that there’s very little difference between the XC40 and C40 apart from the design.
And we don’t mean that in a bad way because the pure electric XC40 Recharge is a fantastic package, offering a cracking combination of style, practicality, performance and a decent range of up to 259 miles.
The C40’s lower roof line looks smarter and makes it more aerodynamic, resulting in a higher range of 273 miles.
Priced from £48,355, there are two versions of the C40 Recharge on offer – a Single Motor (rear-wheel drive) and Twin Motor (all-wheel drive) and three trims levels – Core, Plus and Ultimate.
The latter has twin electric motors – one on the front and one on the rear axle – and is powered by a 82kWh battery. It has a range of up to 316 miles and a 402bhp electric motor, meaning it can sprint from 0-62mph in a blistering 4.7 seconds.
The Single Motor gets a slightly smaller battery (69kWh) and 235bhp electric motor. However, it’s still no slouch (0-62mph in 7.4 seconds) and it had a range of up to 300 miles.
Both versions of the C40 can be replenished from 10 to 80% capacity in 27 minutes (via a 150kW rapid charger), while a full charge from a regular 7.4kW home wallbox takes 11-12 hours to complete. Plug the C40 into an 11kW home charger or public charging point however, and you can cut that time down to seven hours.
On the road, the C40 offers the same combination of performance, practicality and polished road manners as the XC40 Recharge.
The ride is smooth and refined, the steering is light and sharp, and it handles well for a relatively heavy crossover.
There’s surprisingly good body control in faster, more challenging corners and plenty of traction, especially with all-wheel drive models. Ultimately, the C40 is a smoothie, at its best cruising.
The brakes are progressive, which is relatively rare in EVs, and the regenerative braking system (which recovers kinetic energy otherwise lost during braking to recharge the battery) works well, especially in one-pedal mode where a simple lift off the accelerator is usually enough to slow the car down without using the brakes.
If anything, the Twin Motor is a little OTT for most buyers and on the expensive side, so unless you need a 4×4, it’s a little too rapid for everyday driving.
Of course, like any car, the Volvo C40 Recharge is not perfect. For instance, we would have liked some drive modes (there’s no Sport or Normal – just one-pedal or not).
The lower roofline also results in a slight headroom penalty for rear passengers six-foot or over, while the rear window itself is more post box than panoramic, so the view behind is on the challenging side – plus, there’s no rear wiper.
The C40 also has less boot space than the XC40 Recharge. That said, there’s still a useful 413 litres of luggage capacity (down from 452 litres), or a total of 1,205 litres if you flip the 60/40 split rear bench. On the plus side, rear passenger legroom is generous.
Up front there’s a 31-litre compartment under the bonnet – ideal for storing charging cables. There are also plenty of storage spaces scattered inside the cabin for phones, water bottles and other clutter.
As you’d expect from a Volvo, the C40 is packed with the latest safety and driver assistance tech – much of it as standard.
Rivals include the Audi Q4 e-tron, Volkswagen ID.5, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6, Skoda Enyaq iV Coupe and the Polestar 2 (which is based on the same platform).
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