View all Volvo Reviews
► We test Volvo’s electric coupe-SUV
► 402bhp, 273-mile claimed e-range
► Essentially a coupefied XC40 EV
Although not the brand’s first coupe, the Volvo C40 is the first time the sensible Swedes have combined a fastback roofline with four-doors on an SUV base. To show that Bjorn and Lena in engineering aren’t totally po-faced, the top model chucks out 402bhp for a 0-62mph time of 4.7 seconds. More conservative customers can opt for a single motor version with a tamer 228bhp.
Volvo has long thrown away its antique shop owner image. But with the new 2022 Volvo C40 it has bolstered its efforts by building a car that’s not all that practical or economical but does have 402bhp and a 0-62mph time of 4.7 seconds.
Unlike the XC40 with which it shares a platform, the C40 is all-electric. It features the new Android infotainment software that’ll eventually roll out to every other model in the range. And it’s only available online, either as a cash purchase or via the all-inclusive Care by Volvo subscription service. It is in many ways really something of a revolution for Volvo.
But is it any better than an Audi Q4 e -Tron, a Mercedes-Benz EQA or a Tesla Model Y? Read our detailed Volvo C40 review to find out more.
So I can order the C40 from home, but not from a dealer?
Sort of, though it’s not quite such a radical departure as it sounds. You can complete the buying process from the comfort of your sofa, should you so wish – but tradition hasn’t gone entirely out of the window. Volvo dealers still exist, after all, and will be able to answer your questions about the C40 – they’ll also have demonstrators for test drives.
The difference is that when the time comes for you to buy or rent, instead of drawing four boxes on a piece of paper or ‘checking with the manager’ to see what the best finance price they can offer is, the salesperson will direct you in completing your order on the web, probably on a natty little Volvo-branded iPad.
And instead of offering you hire purchase or PCP, your options are more limited. You can pay cash, as five per cent of buyers will do. Or, you can lease it via Care by Volvo – for your monthly fee, you’ll get the car, maintenance, insurance and roadside assistance all bundled together. Neat.
Volvo C40 prices start at £44,809 if you choose to buy outright, or £669 a month on a three-year deal that includes servicing, breakdown cover and all ancillaries apart from the cost of electricity to charge it up. You won’t be able to get one immediately though: in summer 2022, Volvo quoted a 4-10 month wait.
So, what do you get for the money?
The C40 is offered in three trim levels with two powertrain choices. Core is, as you’d imagine, base spec. Mid spec is called Plus and top-tier is called Ultimate. Save for a towbar and charging cable, there are no options save for colours and wheels.
The twin motor cars get 402bhp and an official 273-mile range. This means on paper it beats the Mercedes EQA, but the Tesla Model 3 and Audi Q e-Tron can both return well over 300 miles to a charge in their long-range variants.
The front-wheel drive version has 228bhp and a 0-62mph time of 7.4 seconds. Importantly, on the WLTP cycle it only does about seven miles less than the twin-motor version. But it’s around £60 cheaper per month, costs less to charge, and the battery is quicker to top up too.
Official consumption is 32kWh/100 miles but on our test drives (including a lot of motorway mileage) we averaged close to 38kWh/100 miles, which means a 200-mile real-world range. At least the Volvo’s range calculator is accurate. The two-wheel drive model is even more efficient, providing a similar range with a smaller battery.
An update is on the way to improve range, which bizarrely involves switching the two-wheel drive model from front to rear-wheel drive much like the closely related Polestar 2. We’ll update this review as soon as we’ve got our hands on it.
Group test: Tesla Model 3 vs Hyundai Ioniq vs Polestar 2 vs Audi Q4 e-Tron
What’s the Volvo C40 actually like to drive?
Your first impression is how high-riding the C40 is. You tower over most traffic, even other crossover drivers, much like the regular XC40 making it feel larger than it actually is. It means you get a good view out, but you sometimes feel on tiptoes. Secondly, the twin-motor C40 is seriously quick: it’ll will leave a Q4 e-Tron or Mercedes EQA for dust off the lights, though a Tesla Model 3 still has the Volvo licked.
Even so, we’d stick to the significantly slower single-motor. Lets face it, a 7.4 second 0-62mph time is plenty for something that’s likely to see family duties. It can lose traction quite easily, but the non-defeatable traction control soon steps in to sort things out. Funnily enough, traction isn’t an issue in the four-wheel drive twin motor.
Volvo’s simplified the driving experience. To begin with, there’s no starter button or even handbrake. Simply get into the car, shift to D and you can set off. It’s remarkably like the Polestar 2 in this regard – small wonder, since the two are both based on the Swedish/Chinese CMA architecture.
Once you’re going, you’ll find only three controls to tailor how the car drives, and instead of being on a dedicated switch they’re hidden in the settings menu on the touchscreen. There’s an off-road mode that’ll gather as much dust as a virtual button can, as well as a control to firm up the steering – probably to make it feel ‘sportier’ though all it really does is add to the sensation of weight.
The button for ‘One-Pedal Drive’, though, is one you might want to keep pressed. It ramps up the regen and can bring you to a complete halt with little to no need for the brakes. A few other EVs offer this, but Volvo’s judged it really well and it makes for very smooth progress once you’ve got the hang of it. You barely have to touch the middle pedal during much of your day-to-day driving.
Relatively remote steering and a little body lean add to the feeling this isn’t a car to be hustled, whether you’ve opted for the single or twin motor. Let the C40 lope along and you’ll find it comfortable, though – 20in wheels do thud a little round town but settle down to a nicely resolved ride on faster roads. Smaller 19s are better but not transformative.
Still a Volvo inside?
Fully vegan upholstery plus 3D-printed dash panels seem rather Gen-Z, but that’s not a bad thing when they’re featured in an interior that still holds up so well even though it was introduced on the XC40 back in 2017.
Those contoured black plastic dash panels are the main point of difference from the XC40. They feel a bit cheap to the touch, and look rubbish during the day, but at night they’re backlit and give a genuinely eye-catching effect with a three-dimensional, almost holographic quality.
Hugely comfortable seats are another highlight of the C40’s interior, while the dash is based around a nine-inch portrait infotainment touchscreen and a high-quality screen for the digital dials in front of the driver.
The Android infotainment setup isn’t brand new – it’s already on a couple of Volvo models as well as the Polestar 2 – and it works really well, with direct integration with Google’s services, Google Maps baked right in and support for apps downloaded from the Play Store. The mapping in particular is a gamechanger, while Google’s voice commands are far superior to any OEM system we’ve so far tested.
The more you’re already integrated into the Google ecosystem, the better it’ll be – you can even link up to smart home products. It’s just a shame there’s no support for Apple CarPlay. For once, iPhone users get the raw end of the deal.
There are some annoying details: the temperature control buttons on the screen are some of the smallest we’ve ever seen and easily misprodded when driving. It’s a rare ergonomic fail by the usually practically minded Swedes.
As for space, that coupe roofline doesn’t impact two rear passengers too much (we wouldn’t recommend a third occupant in the middle). Legroom’s decent and only the tallest passengers will moan too much about headroom, even with the full-length sunroof specced. Just watch out for peculiarly narrow back doors, which makes sliding in and out tricky.
The boot’s another matter – it’s pretty shallow, though nowhere near as bad as a Lexus UX 300e, and the button to open it is tucked annoyingly low down by the bumper. The batteries packed underneath mean it’s high up and dogs will have to clamber 75cm up to get in. The rear seats can be folded individually 60:40 and there’s a ski hatch for longer items to poke through into the cabin.
Like many electric cars, there is a small ‘frunk’ (front boot, or trunk) where you’d normally find a petrol engine. It’s not a huge space, but is perfect for stowing away the charging cables. Another practical touch is plastic clip by the driver’s side A-pillar; useful for holding parking tickets.
The Volvo C40 Recharge is a stylish electric car with an excellent turn of pace, reasonable range and a quality interior. It just doesn’t feel particularly special for a car that’s meant to be Volvo’s electric flagship – and looks aside, there’s little really to recommend it over the XC40 Recharge.
Besides, a Tesla Model Y is cheaper and will go far, far farther, while a BMW iX1 is a more entertaining steer.
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|Price when new:||£57,400|
|On sale in the UK:||Now|
|Engine:||78kWh battery, twin electric motors, 402bhp, 487lb ft|
|Transmission:||Single-speed auto, four-wheel drive|
|Performance:||4.7sec 0-62mph, 112mph, 2.8-3.0 miles per kWh, 273-mile range (claimed)|
|Weight / material:||2185kg|
|Dimensions (length/width/height in mm):||4431/1910/1582mm|