Volvo’s First Dedicated EV
Electrification is nothing new for Volvo — the Swedish brand has been delivering plug-in hybrid versions of its premium SUVs for several years, as well as the all-electric XC40 Recharge. Now the company introduces its first crossover designed exclusively as an electric vehicle: the all-new C40 Recharge. With recognizable Volvo styling, Google integration and a powerful dual-motor electric drivetrain, the 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge makes a big splash in the ever-expanding EV pool.
The C40 Recharge represents the next step on Volvo’s path toward complete electrification for its lineup and eventual carbon neutrality. By the 2030 model year, the Swedish automotive brand will offer only all-electric vehicles, with a plan to go completely carbon neutral by 2040. “To remain successful, we need profitable growth. So instead of investing in a shrinking business, we choose to invest in the future — electric and online,” said Hakan Samuelsson, chief executive at Volvo. “We are fully focused on becoming a leader in the fast-growing premium electric segment,” Samuelsson noted.
The first model in Volvo’s history designed and produced exclusively as an electric vehicle, the compact four-door C40 Recharge crossover coupe features a new front-end design — similar to the XC40 Recharge — that will become the styling adopted by future Volvo EVs. Most noticeable is a solid grille with a large Volvo logo flanked by the brand’s signature Thor’s Hammer headlights that incorporate advanced pixel technology.
The new C40 Recharge takes on a sporty look thanks to short overhangs, large wheels and a roof that slopes steeply toward a rear lip spoiler. A split rear spoiler above the rear window improves airflow over the glass while adding to the sleek styling.
With LED taillights that wrap around the vehicle’s corners and extend into the middle of the tailgate as well as up the sides of the rear window, the C40 has a distinctive look at night. The large-print VOLVO branding spelled across the middle clearly identifies this Swedish machine.
The 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge is available in a single trim: the Ultimate. With a starting price of $58,750, this new Recharge comes fully loaded with a 9-inch vertical touchscreen display, a 12-inch driver display, heated front and rear seats, a Harmon Kardon premium audio system, a heated steering wheel, wireless smartphone charging, a power liftgate and 20-inch Graphite Diamond Cut aluminum wheels.
Volvo established its reputation by building some of the safest cars on the road, and the C40 Recharge is no exception. This new Volvo is equipped with company’s new Advanced Driver Assistance Systems that utilize cameras, radar and ultrasonic sensors. Features such as collision avoidance and mitigation, a blind-spot information system, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping assist and oncoming lane mitigation are all standard, helping the C40 Recharge earn the coveted level of Top Safety Pick + from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge is equipped with two 150 kW motors — one at the front and one at the rear — that provide a combined output of 402 horsepower and 486 lb-ft of torque. Both motors are always engaged for full-time all-wheel drive that delivers 50 percent power to each axle under normal conditions, with the ability to shift torque instantly as needed based on road conditions. Power increases smoothly and strongly and a sprint to 60 mph takes a mere 4.7 seconds. The C40 Recharge can also tow up to 2,000 pounds.
Providing power to the dual motors is a 78 kWh (75kWh usable) lithium-ion battery stowed below the floor in a safety cage featuring built-in crumple zones designed to protect the batteries — and by extension the occupants — in the event of a collision.
Range and Charging
According to the U.S. EPA, the range of the C40 Recharge on a full charge is 226 miles; the ratings are 94 MPGe city / 80 MPGe hwy / 87 MPGe combined. Charging on a Level 2 charger (a typical home setup) can add up to 37 miles in an hour. With a 150 kw DC fast charger, the C40 Recharge can be juiced from empty to 80 percent in about 40 minutes.
Empowering the C40 Recharge’s integrated Android operating system, the driver can easily say, “Hey Google, find charging stations near me” to be directed to the closest station. Soon Volvo will offer charging options at Starbucks. The automaker recently announced a partnering with well-known coffee purveyor to install DC fast-charging stations at select locations. The initial plan is to equip Starbucks stores with chargers to provide power to make it possible to drive from the company’s headquarters in Seattle all the way to Denver, Colorado.
With a 9-inch vertical touchscreen display as its primary interface, the C40 Recharge has a clean interior look. The vehicle has only a handful of physical buttons, although we are pleased to see a volume control knob still in use. Climate adjustments are permanently at the bottom of the screen for easy access. Although many vehicles offer voice control, most are difficult to use. The Google Assistant integration in the 40 Recharge functions so well we ended up using it as our primary system interface for audio, navigation and climate functions.
The 2020 Volvo C40 Recharge interior is completely free of any leather materials, and the automaker has committed to all future EVs being leather-free as well. Instead the C40 Recharge features a sustainable cowhide alternative — a combination of suede textile and microtech material that is both attractive and comfortable.
The Volvo C40 Recharge automatically recognizes its driver (with a key) approaching the vehicle and immediately powers up display screens and other systems. Starting the vehicle requires no key turning nor button pushing — simply press the brake and put the car in gear. After arriving at a destination, the driver shifts the car to Park and gets out — the C40 Recharge automatically powers down.
The 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge features an Android operating system that has embedded Google services such as Google Maps, Google Assistant and the Google Play Store. Logging in with our personal Google account seamlessly integrated our map favorites, Spotify playlists and other streaming services. The Google Assistant works well via intuitive voice integration activated by saying, “Hey Google.” During our drive we were able to ask for directions, request music tracks and even adjust the interior temperature. A nice added feature: Google Maps shows the amount of charge expected to be remaining once the C40 Recharge reaches its destination. The system also has a sense of humor. Telling the system “Hey Google, I’m hot,” elicits a glib reply: “You should go swimming.”
Volvo keeps the 12.3-inch digital driver display in the C40 Recharge simple with speed, gear selected and battery percentage as the default appearance. The driver can also integrate the navigation screen into the display and this can be very convenient, allowing the center display to be used exclusively for other features. One item that should be included is distance to empty — a battery percentage simply doesn’t give the driver enough information to calculate how much range is left — one of the most vital pieces of information when operating an electric car.
Passengers in the rear seat of the C40 Recharge will find plenty of legroom — more than expected. Many SUV / coupe combos sacrifice rear-seat headroom; Volvo designers created a roofline that lets tall adults feel comfortable in the back seat. A panoramic glass roof adds to this roomy impression. However, the “hump” in the middle of the rear floor is a bit of a surprise — seemingly unnecessary with an electric powertrain.
The 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge offers plenty of utility thanks to a spacious cargo area that can be further extended via fold-flat rear seats. An integrated cargo cover keeps stowed items out of sight.
Volvo has taken advantage of the open space under the hood and added a small storage area. Even though there’s no room for large items, it is a great place for keeping smaller items secure.
On the Road
We enjoy driving electric cars, and the C40 Recharge delivers a high fun factor. The ride is smooth and quiet with very little road or wind noise. The ride is smooth and quiet with very little road or wind noise, but when power is needed there is always plenty. Full throttle provides an instant response with strong but controlled acceleration — certainly enough to induce a smile.
One of our favorite aspects of driving an electric car is one-pedal driving, and the setup on the C40 Recharge works well. With one-pedal driving, lifting off the throttle delivers the same result as applying the brakes, but in this case employing the regenerative brakes to slow the vehicle while harnessing energy for the batteries. With some practice it’s possible to modulate the throttle so the C40 Recharge glides smoothly to a stop at a light or stop sign — without having to applying the brakes.
Recharging on Winding Roads
While one-pedal driving is convenient and efficient in normal situations, it’s a great feature for more enthusiastic driving. Along the winding roads outside Palm Springs, California, the C40 Recharge delivers great fun. With instant torque available, C40 Recharge always has power at the ready when exiting a corner or passing a slower vehicle, and with one-pedal driving lifting off the throttle provides enough braking when entering a corner (if calculated correctly) that moving a foot to the brake pedal is not necessary. This allows for better power control and much quicker reaction from the vehicle. With its responsive steering and full-time all-wheel drive, the C40 Recharge performs better than anticipated.
Perhaps our biggest complaint about the C40 Recharge: rearward visibility. The steeply raked rear window creates a sporty exterior shape, but from inside it limits the view out back. Looking in the rearview mirror shows only road directly behind the car; the driver must lean forward and down in order to see farther down the tarmac out back.
Right for You?
The 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge offers a comfortable, spacious cabin extolling a premium vibe wrapped in a stylish coupe-like crossover package. And even though the vehicle possesses a few annoyances, overall the C40 Recharge delivers with reasonable EV range, excellent handling and strong, smooth power. Add intuitive Google integration and the C40 Recharge becomes a great option in the growing EV market.
Pros: Quick; commendable handling; convenient Google integration.
Cons: Poor rearward visibility; no distance to empty; overzealous traction control.
Bottom Line: Premium styling , high-tech infotainment, advanced safety features and impressive performance make the 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge a great electric vehicle.
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