Volvo C40 Recharge review (hands on): An EV that oozes with class

More power and smarter charging make the Volvo C40 Recharge a potent package

Volvo C40 Recharge parked
(Image: © Volvo)

Early Verdict

If you’ve liked the look of Volvo’s recent cars you’re going to love the appeal of its latest addition to the roster. The Volvo C40 Recharge is fantastic to look at, oozing class and sophistication from every angle. However, it’s an EV and with that comes a slightly different way of driving.

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Volvo has built itself a reputation for producing a string of safe, albeit  fairly unexciting, cars over the decades. But the past few years have shown the Swedish automaker can produce something safe and reliable with an extra helping of class and charm.

The Volvo C40 Recharge is the latest one to hit the roads. This car is absolutely oozing with charm and sophistication, no matter which way you look at it. It may not have the performance and style of the Teslas or sister-brand Polestar, but it really is a car to behold.

We got to spend some time with the C40 Recharge ahead of its European launch, and here's what we thought about it.

Volvo C40 Recharge review (hands on): Design and performance

If you’ve liked the look of Volvo’s recent cars you’re going to love the appeal of the Volvo C40 Recharge, its latest addition to the roster. The C40 Recharge is a compact crossover SUV and Volvo's second dedicated all-electric model following on from its other BEV, the XC40 Recharge. 

Volvo C40 Recharge parked

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It’s also fantastic to look at, oozing class and sophistication from every angle. However, it’s an EV and with that comes a slightly different way of driving. Tom’s Guide got a chance to see how it stacks up on a recent run from the traffic-choked streets of Brussels through rural Belgium and ending in the ancient city of Ghent.

Volvo C40 Recharge GPS

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Anyone who’s experienced time with an all-electric car will know that it’s all in the planning. The Volvo C40 Recharge isn't exactly miserly with its battery capacity though, with a confirmed range of up to 226 miles on offer for the driver to exploit depending on the model variant. 

Volvo C40 Recharge charger port

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Power comes from a 78kWh battery that delivers propulsion via a brace of electric motors on the front and rear axles. Anyone prone to range anxiety will be comforted by the C40’s ability to take a fast charge that’ll get it from 10 to 80 per cent in around 40 minutes. Our model, a Fjord Blue Recharge Twin Pro edition, comes with 20-inch 5-spoke alloys came fully loaded in terms of features.

Volvo C40 Recharge review (hands on): The Test Drive

Setting off from Brussels airport the Volvo C40 is everything you’d expect, especially when it comes to feeling safe and secure. Volvos have always been nicely put together and the C40 is no exception. 

Volvo C40 Recharge parked

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Being a press car our example came with all of the bells and whistles too. Naturally the Volvo will be available to buy online, allowing you to pick through trim options in much the same way as ordering your groceries.

Volvo C40 Recharge hood space

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Mind you, don’t spend time searching for a leather trim option because the Volvo C40 interior is a leather-free zone. Volvo has ditched the option in another move that's aiming for a greener footprint. Fear not though, because if you're after comfort and quality you'll be happy to hear that C40 still feels quite luxurious. It's just a little more sustainable than older models.

In fact, the cabin of the C40 is really impressive. The Android-based infotainment system is a treat if you’re a fan of Google’s suite of apps. Google’s nifty voice-powered Assistant and the ever-dependable Maps functionality make getting from A to B pretty simple. 

Volvo C40 Recharge GPS

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Meanwhile, driving the car is similarly straightforward with no start button. All that’s needed is to put your foot on the brake, shift into drive and you're off

Volvo C40 Recharge stick shift

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We got to drive the Volvo C40 Recharge on a range of different roads, from highways and byways through to narrow European city streets. Out on the open road it’s easy to see the appeal of the all-wheel drive system, and we discovered just how much fun the one-pedal drive functionality works with 408 horsepower and 660Nm of torque at your disposal.

Volvo C40 Recharge wheels

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That has the potential to get you up to 112mph in just 4.7 seconds if the opportunity ever arises

Once you get used to it, the one-foot driving option, that allows you to use the accelerator to both speed up and slow down, is absolutely infectious — just like it is in something like the Nissan Leaf.

Volvo C40 Recharge review (hands on): Autonomous driving and technology

Around town though the chunky design of the C40 Recharge isn’t a worry either, thanks in the main to numerous driving aids in the shape of the Driver Assistance and Driver Awareness tools. 

We found features contained in the latter were invaluable as we navigated our way around the cycle-centric city of Ghent. Blind spot information, cross-traffic alerts and autobraking functionality all played their part in helping us avoid contact with two-wheelers and other inner city hazards. Hazards that included tourists and fellow journalists. We could do it all to a backdrop of great music too, thanks to an excellent Harmon Kardon audio setup. 

Volvo C40 Recharge interior door handle

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One of the best things about the Volvo C40 Recharge brings us back to the topic of battery power. Having hands-on access to explore the way it simplifies charging, as well as helping you make the most of the battery power, left a really positive impression on us.

Volvo C40 Recharge smart screen

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There’s the option to coordinate and manage all of your available power through the 9-inch infotainment screen. You can optimise your route and settings in the car too, milking the most from available battery power. However, Volvo is also attempting to standardise the charging process on journeys.

Volvo C40 Recharge dash screen

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Owners will also be able enlist the help of the Volvo’s Plugsurfing card and app combination, which streamlines the often stressful and unpredictable recharging experience. It standardizes the process and removes the need for multiple accounts and apps, hopefully preventing you from having a meltdown in the process.

It might not, as yet, offer an exhaustive range of recharge options but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

Volvo C40 Recharge review (hands on): Verdict

Volvo may not be the most fashionable car brand out there, but it's not one to dismiss based on what we've seen of its electrical efforts so far. The XC40 Recharge has already proven Volvo's electric motoring chops, and from what we've seen so far the C40 Recharge will be carrying on that progress. 

With a great mix of style, technology and performance, the C40 Recharge has already impressed us with everything it can do. We'll hold off on an official rating until we've spent more with the car, but for now any prospective EV buyers should certainly take it into consideration. 

The Volvo C40 Recharge is available to order right now, with prices starting at $55,300. That includes a $1,095 destination fee, and you'll have to pay a refundable $500 deposit to confirm your order.