Funky EV could use more range and flash factor
THE GOOD
  • Funky exterior style
  • Excellent driving dynamics
  • Focused on sustainability
THE BAD
  • Limited range
  • Glitchy infotainment, lack of buttons
  • Hard to park
  • Little flash factor

The 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge is the “coupe” version of the brand’s smallest crossover, and together they’re the brand’s first fully electric vehicle (EV).

Like most “crossover coupes,” the C40 Recharge sacrifices some practicality in the name of style, but it does so in a way that I think makes it more desirable than its XC40 Recharge sibling.

Styling: 8.5/10

The C40’s stumpy shape suits it well. Where many other crossover coupes look like jacked-up sedans with odd proportions, the C40 wears its silhouette smartly. Where the XC40 is handsome but doesn’t do much to stand out, the C40 is sharp. Whether you’re after an EV that looks like a spaceship or something more subtle, the C40 oddly manages to be both.

From the front, it looks relatively normal, with its grille-less nose immediately telling the world about its EV powertrain. Moving to the side, its sharp wheels and sloped roofline give the crossover some added drama. Finally, some aggressive spoiler details and vents in the rear give it those spaceship vibes without going over the top.

Inside, the style is much more muted, staying true to the brand’s Nordic sensibility. I love the carpeted trim pieces in the door panels, which look fun and add a pop of colour, but also act as useful sound deadening. It’s also made from recycled plastic, and this is Volvo’s first vehicle with no leather upholstery offered.

There’s quite a bit of hard plastic trim used, which is a bit disappointing for a luxury brand, but the fact that much of the interior is made from recycled plastic makes it easier to accept. I did get a few comments from passengers that it didn’t feel very special inside for the price Volvo is asking for. Even with the use of recycled materials, the brand will have to innovate ways to make it feel fancier.

Volvo added some interesting texture and lighting elements to make the space more visually special as well, with some inlays on the dashboard and doors styled like a topographical map of a national park in Sweden. They’re also backlit at night to emit a warm glow. It doesn’t look like much during the day, but it’s very pretty after nightfall.

Power: 9/10

The 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge is powered by an electric motor on each axle, which gives the crossover standard all-wheel drive. Max output is rated at 450 hp and 486 lb-ft of torque, which is enough to accelerate to 100 km/h from a standstill in 4.7 seconds. The turn of speed is quick, though not the breakneck warp speed you’ll get from other EVs. Still, passing or getting up to highway speeds happens very quickly and in complete silence.

In ideal conditions, the C40 Recharge can charge on a DC fast-charger from 10 to 80 per cent in 40 minutes, or in eight hours using a Level 2 charger. You can also set the system to set maximum charging at 80 per cent, which experts say will help prolong the battery’s service life.

Fuel Economy: 8/10

With an official range rating of approximately 360 km, the C40 Recharge falls a bit short if you don’t have a home charger. With other EVs from mainstream brands easily getting between 420 km and 500 km of range these days, the C40’s range might not be enough for a building-dweller like myself who relies on the somewhat inconvenient public charging network to feel comfortable making the switch to EV driving.

Over the course of about 455 km of mixed testing, the C40 Recharge returned an efficiency rating of 22.7 kWh/100 km, which is right around what’s considered normal in this segment. To help put that into perspective in relation to a gas-powered vehicle, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) rates the C40 at a combined 2.7 litres equivalent of fuel per 100 km.

As you drive, the C40 will adjust its range estimates based on current conditions and driving style in addition to showing you a best- and worst-case scenario for range, so you always have an accurate idea of how far you can drive. I find this helpful for planning and for eliminating range anxiety. At first, I thought it was weird that the C40 shows range in 10-km increments, but I learned that having an exact reading doesn’t really matter because even with a gas-powered car, the estimate won’t be super accurate anyway. In general, I feel the C40’s range estimates are accurate bordering on conservative at times.

Driving Feel: 8.5/10

From behind the wheel, the C40 Recharge feels and drives like a luxury vehicle, but it can also feel a bit stiff over broken or uneven roads. It’s smooth and quiet with only some artificial “whooshing” sounds pumping through the speakers while in motion. Some friends who are considering buying a Tesla noted that they liked how the Volvo felt more solid and put together than the Tesla they tested. They said the Tesla felt too light and cheap, which didn’t inspire much confidence in them.

The Volvo manages its weight well, with its low centre of gravity and short wheelbase making it dive into corners with the eagerness and stability of a go-kart. The steering is numb, which is pretty normal these days, but it feels accurate and easy to control.

The C40 doesn’t have any driving modes and barely any options to customize different driving attributes. The regenerative braking, for example, only has two settings: on and off. Other EVs allow drivers to pick how aggressively they want their regenerative braking to operate, but the C40 only has full one-pedal driving or nothing. However, the one-pedal driving works really well. It’s a very aggressive setup that’s a bit jarring to use at first, but once you learn to modulate the throttle and time it perfectly to bring you to a stop exactly where you need, you’ll barely find yourself using the brake pedal, which is what you want to maximize your efficiency and prolong the life of your brakes.

The C40 is a pain to park. With its limited rearward visibility forcing drivers to rely on the reverse camera, you’d think that Volvo would have a great setup, but the reverse camera is awful. The screen is huge, but the useful information you need to see while parking is smaller than a credit card. The distorted top-down camera view shows me what is happening six feet away from me on either side while parking, which isn’t at all helpful.

Features: 7/10

The basics are covered in the Volvo C40 Recharge, but there aren’t any features to get really excited about. In a time where EVs can do crab walks, have enormous touchscreens, and show off their large augmented-reality head-up displays, the C40’s feature set is fine but not very innovative or high-tech. Drivers looking for an EV that’s a technology showcase won’t have much here to brag about.

Comfort: 8/10

The driver and front-seat passenger have plenty of room, but my 6-foot-3 boyfriend isn’t able to sit behind himself. His hair grazes the roof and he’s got great hair, so this isn’t going to work! The seats themselves were comfortable and also covered in a material made of recycled plastic, which is a cool initiative, but they didn’t feel luxurious. Front and rear seats are heated along with the steering wheel.

The C40 comes standard with a heat pump, which will warm the cabin more efficiently and not cause as big of a drain on the battery as other radiant heat systems.

Practicality: 8/10

The trunk holds 489 L of cargo and 1,205 L with the seats folded flat. By comparison, the XC40 Recharge offers 578 L and 1,328 L with the seats folded, so the C40 sacrifices some space in the name of style. There’s also a small divided frunk that holds 21 L of stuff. Underneath this compartment is where the tire repair kit is hidden.

The simplest yet weirdly clever feature in the cabin is a little removable trash bin that sits in front of the centre console box. My mom, who (bless her heart) hangs a plastic bag for garbage from her gear selector, would love this feature.

User Friendliness: 8/10

There’s no start button in the C40 – drivers just get in and the Volvo wakes up and is ready to go. For people not used to EVs, this might be confusing at first, but you’ll get used to it quickly.

The infotainment system is based on Google’s Android operating system, so it feels familiar because it operates much like a smartphone, but there’s still too many taps needed to change climate control settings or even tune to a new radio station. There’s a useful home button, but some shortcut buttons for commonly used features would have made it more user-friendly. I also experienced some glitchy behaviour from the system on a few separate occasions and couldn’t get the wireless phone charger to work.

Google Maps does an amazing job of helping you find charging stations and allows you to filter your search based on charging speed, availability, and price. The navigation also shows you your estimated range when you get to your destination and how much you’ll have left if it’s a roundtrip, which is great for planning.

Safety: 9/10

Being a Volvo, safety is a top priority, and the brand’s full suite of safety and driver assistance tech is included as standard. This includes features like adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, parking assist, lane-keep assist, oncoming traffic collision mitigation, road sign recognition, and more.

The assistants worked well, with the adaptive cruise control reacting smoothly and naturally to traffic, and the other systems firing off timely warnings without being overly sensitive.

Value: 7/10

The 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge only comes in one trim that starts at $72,600 plus the non-negotiable $2,015 destination fee. The only optional extra $900 for the sharp Fjord Blue paint is well worth it. My main issue with the price is that there are other EVs out there that offer more range, more features, and more style for the same or less money. The C40 also doesn’t feel like a car that costs as much as it does.

The Verdict

The 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge is simultaneously funky and sensible, but its limited range might make it a tough sell for someone who doesn’t have access to home charging. Its lack of wow-factor also might turn away prospective EV shoppers looking for stuff to brag about. If those factors aren’t a concern, however, this EV comes together as an otherwise easy to live with, clever, sustainability-focused crossover that offers excellent driving dynamics, a stylish exterior, and a strong suite of safety features.

Competitors

Specifications

Engine Displacement 300 kW   Model Tested 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge Ultimate P8 AWD
Engine Cylinders Dual electric motors   Base Price $72,600
Peak Horsepower 450 hp   A/C Tax $100
Peak Torque 486 lb-ft   Destination Fee $2,015
Fuel Economy 2.5 / 2.9 / 2.7 L/100 km, 22.2 / 26.1 / 23.9 kWh/100 km cty/hwy/cmb; 364 km est. range   Price as Tested $75,615
Cargo Space 489 / 1,205 L seats up/down  
Optional Equipment
$900 – Fjord Blue Paint, $900