The Volvo C40 Recharge Twin is a Volvo XC40 with a fastback body style, so it looks more sporty than the SUV model, although the driving experience is more about comfort than sport.
Volvo says that the Volvo C40 Recharge is its first car that’s electric-only. However it’s not really a bespoke electric car from the ground up because it’s based on the XC40, but with fastback styling (so it’s referred to as a ‘crossover’) rather than the SUV body, and the XC40 started life as a car with petrol and diesel powertrains. So should you opt for the SUV or the crossover?
We’ve already established that the Volvo C40 Recharge is a fastback, or crossover, version of the XC40. So virtually everything apart from the sharper rear styling is shared with the XC40. But what about the name ‘Recharge Twin’ – what does that mean? Well, ‘Recharge’ means that it’s electric, and ‘Twin’ means that it has twin electric motors, in other words, all-wheel drive (although there’s no AWD badging on the car). So in the AWD version there are two motors producing a pretty substantial power output of 408 hp and torque of 660 Nm. There’s also a battery that’s slightly larger than that in the front-wheel drive model: 78 kWh rather than 69 kWh.
The interior is minimalistic and has a premium feel; you’d be hard pushed to tell it apart from that of the XC40. You still get extra space under the boot floor and under the bonnet (31 litres) to store charging cables. The boot is 413 litres in size, in comparison to the 452 litres of the XC40. If you fold down the rear seats, you get 1,205 litres of space – compared to 1,328 litres in the XC40. The C40 is 4,440mm long.
When you get in the C40 you’ll notice that there’s no start/stop switch – you just select Drive and you’re off – as per Tesla.
The next thing that you might notice is that there’s no display of your electric driving range. This is the same on the XC40 and in our opinion this is crazy. Apart from the XC40, we’re not aware of any other EV that doesn’t show you its range – which is the most important information for the driver in any EV. There is a figure in the instrument display that shows you the battery percentage, but how do you know how many miles that will deliver? The display shows the range when you get down to 25% battery charge, and at any point you can ask in the in-car Google assistant how many miles you have remaining.
When setting off from standstill the C40 feel very slow to respond to pressure on the accelerator, as though the car is resisting your inputs – and it’s a similar story with the steering, which feels weighty.
There’s no obvious button on the dashboard for drive modes, or any user-friendly controls such as steering wheel-mounted paddles to adjust the level of regenerative braking. It feels like the C40 needs a ‘Sport’ drive mode to make the car’s responses more dynamic (there is an ‘Off-Road’ setting, and One Pedal Drive mode, but good luck trying to find these buried in the touchscreen).
Having said that, if you do need to accelerate quickly past a slow-moving vehicle on a country road, the 408 hp and 660 Nm of torque do deliver excellent performance (giving a 0-62 mph time of 4.7 seconds).
Handling is what you might expect from a crossover weighing 2,132 kg, however grip levels are excellent thanks to the all-wheel drive system. Instead of an agile driving experience, the C40 offers a comfortable SUV-like experience, which insulates the car’s occupants effectively from the outside environment. Ride quality is good – and better than a Polestar 2 if fitted with big alloy wheels – although large bumps and potholes do transmit their impact into the cabin.
The C40 is generally quiet and refined at motorway speeds but there’s occasionally some road noise on certain surfaces.
One really good point about the C40 is that we went a whole week with zero intrusion from the lane departure warning system. This feature, which can be accessed via the cog at the bottom right of the touchscreen, evidently stays off once it has been switched off.
The C40’s infotainment system will be familiar to people who have driven other new Volvos over recent years. There’s a central touchscreen with a physical home button under the screen, and pressing this brings up four boxes for maps, media, phone and car status.
There are climate controls at the bottom of the screen, which you have to press in order to go to another screen to control items such as the air conditioning. There are two very small buttons for the heated seats and heated steering wheel.
The way to access further car controls is by pressing the icon with four squares at the bottom left of the screen.
There seems to be no easy way to toggle between radio stations on the touchscreen, but you can do this via controls on the steering wheel.
One feature on the touchscreen that is excellent is the overhead view of the car and its surroundings when manoeuvring – and this is particularly helpful on the C40 because the view out of the small, slit-like rear window is very poor.
One final issue is that at one point the C40 was being negotiated into a gap between two parked cars to let another car pass and the C40 slammed on the brakes by itself – not great for passengers and not great for the other car that then almost crashed into the C40.
The C40 Recharge Twin has a (braked) towing weight of 1,800kg.
The Volvo C40 Recharge Twin has an official combined WLTP electric driving range of 273 miles. However this can vary depending on the model. All-wheel drive models vary between 273-274 miles, and front-wheel drive models have a lower driving range – 266-269 miles – because they have a smaller battery. Real-world driving will give a range of around 200 miles.
The C40 Recharge Twin can be rapid charged at up to 150kW, when a 10-80% charge should take 37 minutes. Using a 7.2 kW home charger, a 0-100% charge should take around 12 hours.
The Volvo C40 Recharge is available with front-wheel drive in three trims: Recharge Core (£44,800), Recharge Plus (£50,550), Recharge Ultimate (£53,900), and prices for the AWD models are £55,550 for the Recharge Twin Plus and £58,900 for the Recharge Twin Ultimate.
Every C40 features a nine-inch touchscreen, Google Automotive Services (Google Maps, Google Assistant and access to the Google Play Store), fixed panoramic sunroof, LED headlights, two-zone climate control, power-operated tailgate, four years’ data allowance and the Volvo Cars app.
The Volvo C40 Recharge ‘Crossover’ offers similar levels of space and practicality to the XC40 ‘SUV’ but with more sporty styling. Acceleration is certainly sporty, with the exception of when it feels muted from a standstill, but overall the C40 is comfort rather than sport-focused. Grip levels are good thanks to the all-wheel drive system. Overall the C40 is another refined and ‘premium’ Volvo product, but with prices of most C40 models ranging from around £50,000 – £60,000, it can’t be described as one of the more affordable EVs. And for that price you don’t even get a 300-mile driving range. The Volvo C40 Recharge Twin is awarded a Green Car Guide rating of 9 out of 10.