Automakers are understandably concerned about letting crossovers succumb to the miasma that has doomed wagons and minivans. Call it the stench of being square, which has turned those body styles into icons of messy family heckling. Luckily for automakers, injecting recklessness into a people transporter seems like nothing more than adding some degree of declination between the B-pillar and the rear fairing. This is how Audi creates its Sportbacks crossover, Mercedes and Porsche their crossover coupes, and BMW its peer CUVs.
Volvo joined this Germanic party with the C40 Recharge. The C stands for ‘coupe’, the rake in the roof, making it the more dashing counterpart of the traditionally Swedish XC40 Recharge. The C40 Recharge is based on the same compact modular architecture as the XC40 (this architecture also underpins sister brand Polestar 2). The C40 Recharge is also driven by the same fully electric twin-engine powertrain with 402 horsepower and 487 lb-ft of torque and powered by a battery of the same rated capacity of 78.0 kWh, of which 75.0 kWh is usable.
There are entries in the Gains and Losses columns when comparing the C40 Recharge and the XC40 Recharge. In the loss column of the C40, the roof is 2.4 inches lower than that of the XC40 and the headroom at the rear seats is reduced by 1.6 inches, although there is no problem installing a five foot 11 inch frame, with plenty of room to cran your neck. Thanks to the sloping roofline, the luggage space behind the second row takes the obvious hit and is down three cubes compared to the XC40 Recharge.
And then there is the rear window, tabulated for gain and loss. Volvo says the aerodynamic work done by designers on the rear of the B-pillar, from the roof fins that cover the tailgate hinges to the rear spoiler, extended the range by 6%. A software update to the 2022 XC40 Recharge increased the range from 208 miles assessed by the EPA last year to 223, so Volvo’s estimate that the C40 Recharge will travel 225 miles on a charge didn’t last. ‘impact this could have.
However, the work in the rear resulted in such a steep slope in the hatch that the rear window features the effective height of a shoebox. Looking in the rearview mirror, you can see the upper or lower half of a car behind, but not both. The best view of what’s behind is in the side mirrors.
The rest of the C40 Recharge focuses on Volvo’s transition to an increasingly environmentally friendly and digital future. There will be no internal combustion version of the C40 Recharge, with the company looking to 2030 when it aims to sell only electric vehicles.
The cabin ranks as premium, albeit a dark premium. The leatherless interior of the C40 is exclusively black in the US market. The backlit abstract topographic map of the Swedish national park Abisko on the dashboard and door panels is a touch of whimsy. Depending on the exterior color of the car, the seats, covered with Microtech and another synthetic with a nubuck look, can be offset by a Fjord Blue carpet in recycled plastic.
As with all other electric vehicle manufacturers, Volvo is planning live updates to add new features and options, and in some technical ways the C40 is a canvas that awaits some finishing touches. User experience designers have emphasized simplicity rather than ultimate functionality, omitting some of the benefits one expects from integrated digital displays. The digital dashboard only offers two configurations, one with the two gauges separated by a blank area and the other with a small navigation screen between them. There is no way to see what music is playing without clicking the audio page on the main screen (this information cannot be called up on the dashboard screen). In fact, we wanted a ubiquitous menu bar on the main infotainment screen so that we could access any important page with one touch – the same type of menu bar as the Android Auto app, but this take on the Android Automotive operating system does not. And the left and right arrows on the left spoke of the steering wheel don’t do anything yet. Jonas Engström, head of strategy and corporate ownership, tells us the functionality for them is on the way.
There is a new range extender function which acts as an Eco mode. We are told that for now this will only affect the operation of the air conditioning, but it could expand to modify other systems that siphon energy from the battery. And there are new pixel headlights made up of 84 LEDs, but their dynamic light patterns are not kosher with US regulations, so we get the standard version.
It takes a few starts and stops to get used to not having an on / off button. Once underway, the C40 Recharge behaves a bit like its twin. The C40 sprints to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, but we expect it to match the 4.3-second dash we saw in our testing of the XC40. Shocks do a great job of keeping around 4,800 pounds of electric vehicles in balance as they roll on the road.
There are two settings for one-pedal driving, on or off. When activated at speeds below 31mph, heavy-duty regenerative braking slows the C40 down by 0.22g (that’s halved above 31mph). In heavy traffic, it is a perfect help in town.
The C40 only lost its grace in town when it encountered sharp-edged objects like aggressive speed bumps, train tracks, and pothole tarmac, the same one we experienced in the XC40. Recharge. In the absence of an internal combustion engine as a masking agent, the suspension sends impacts from the 20-inch wheels that vibrate through the steering column and into the seats. Quick direction changes aren’t a big deal either, at least not until the C40 Recharge is pushed enough to turn the average Volvo owner into the same Fjord Blue as our test car.
Driving like, well, a Volvo, there is nothing to disappoint about driving 99% of the time. Volvo has tuned the throttle for a smooth, linear response, so it’s easy to forget how powerful this little guy is. On the highway, a reckless throttle will push your head into the headrest. Hopping cars ahead and squirting through holes in traffic is fun at a theme park, and the growl doesn’t stop at freakish speeds. The best we could do for the high speed curves on the Belgian road were the road interchanges, but the C40 Recharge was ready to go through them at impressive speeds.
Volvo is bringing only the Ultimate trim to the United States, priced at $ 59,845 before tax credits. The figure buys almost all the substantial options, including a panoramic roof, a 360-degree camera system, a premium audio system, driver assistance technology Pilot Assist and Care by Volvo, which includes regular services and roadside assistance. This amount also pays for 250 kWh of free charging at Electrify America stations in the first three years. Once it runs out, Volvo will pay for a one-year EA Pass + subscription, which provides access to reduced charging rates.
An entry-level 2022 Audi Q4 50 e-tron Sportback costs around $ 6,000 cheaper, for much less horsepower and torque and fewer features, but about 16 miles more estimated range and two cubic feet of fuel. more space for luggage. A comparable version of the Audi, still out of power, peaks just over $ 60,000.
For those looking for an XC40 Recharge with a bit of visual courage, here it is. This buyer already understands the tradeoffs described and should understand that they will cost more in the form of a cross-cut – in this case, $ 600 more than the XC40 Recharge Ultimate.
This is the price to pay for not being square. In a Volvo, nothing less.
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