Although it’s a new model, the C40 shares many components with the boxier XC40 Recharge all-electric model.
There are two main differences. First, the C40 is electric only, while the XC40 is available with either a gas engine or an all-electric powertrain. Also, the C40 has a sloped roof, making it 63 mm lower than the XC40. This roofline provides a sportier look and improves aerodynamics. Volvo says the lower roofline accounts for a five-kilometre longer range, making it slightly faster. But the lower roofline also means less room in the back of the C40 than the XC40.
The C40, manufactured at the Volvo facility in Ghent, Belgium, is significant for Volvo because it’s the first model offered solely as an all-electric vehicle; there are no hybrid or gasoline versions of the C40. Volvo’s ambitious long-range plans include having 50 per cent of sales from pure electric models by 2025 and all vehicles electric-only by 2030.
The C40 is a compact crossover, sitting on a 2,702 mm (106.4 in) wheelbase and having an overall length of 4,440 mm (174.8 in).
While the interior has lots of headroom up front, it seems narrow, maybe because the wide console seems to crowd the driver’s area.
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Like other Volvos, the seats are extremely comfortable, among the best in the industry. They can move really far back, which is great for very tall drivers. The driving position is excellent.
There’s no leather or suede trim in this luxury car, as the C40 materials are entirely animal-free. Many of the interior materials come from recycled plastics.
The most noticeable thing about the C40 is the power. It’s extremely fast; Volvo says it can go from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.7 seconds. Power for this all-wheel-drive vehicle comes from two electric motors providing 450 horsepower and a range of 364 km.
A fast charge means the battery can be recharged from 10 per cent to 80 per cent in 37 minutes.
As expected, this Volvo has lots of safety features, including a Blind Spot Information System with Cross-traffic alert, 360-degree camera, Collision Mitigation Support, Lane Keeping Aid and Parking assist.
While the technology in the all-electric drivetrain in the C40 is very impressive, the navigation system is less impressive. It’s not very intuitive when compared to competitors.
When I started my test drive, there was a map on the display screen directly in front of me and also on the centre navigation screen to my right. It took a while to figure out where to touch, press or swipe so that I could listen to the radio.
There are a lot of vehicles where it’s simpler to select the map, sound system, or heating or air conditioning controls as soon as you hop in for the first time. Not so in this Volvo, without taking time to check the owner’s manual.
My test vehicle was the loaded model called the Ultimate, and the only option was the $900 metallic paint, which Volvo calls Fjord Blue. The Volvo C40 Recharge, available only online, has a suggested list price in Canada of $72,600.
The Volvo C40 Recharge has a less-than-intuitive infotainment system, but it has very comfortable seats, lots of safety features and great performance.
Being the first Volvo offered with just an all-electric drivetrain means a lot is riding on the C40 as the automaker begins the transition to offering only fully electric vehicles by 2030.
Dale Johnson is an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist who has worked in TV, radio, print and online. Dale loves to restore classic cars. Dale was provided with a vehicle to test drive by the manufacturer. The content of this review was not reviewed or accepted by the manufacturer.
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