The Swedish manufacturer pursues a muscular attack in the field of electrification with its C40, an unexpected machine, but in step with the times.
More paid, more electricity. This seems to be Volvo’s declaration of its winning strategy. In the middle of the electric transition that creates structural problems and even the existence of many manufacturers, the Swedish company is exploring the trends and is starting to get more and more decisive marks, especially in the strongest growth areas.
Volvo, a subsidiary of Chinese giant Geely, is also showing an unprecedented commercial performance, with global sales rising 5.6% to nearly 700,000 vehicles, in a very difficult year 2021. Better yet, the manufacturer even set stock records for market in some countries, especially France. It now surpasses its record of 1% achieved in 1985.
Surfing the right wave… at the right time
The catalyst for Volvo’s success, despite being better known a decade ago for its large station wagons and powerful saloons, is to launch at the same time the modification of its range towards SUVs, while launching very early the electric project, to describe “Eco-Friendly “. “Brand image before anyone else. A road map that is an oxymoron, but one that pays off, with evidence to back it up. It should be noted that electric models (Best-Seller XC40 in the lead) now make up 63% of Volvo’s commercial offer , one of the best averages in the automotive industry, which on paper makes the brand’s main goal, switch to 100. % electric from 2030.
But for this, premium producers must also catch consumer trends and desires at the right time, even if it means investing in niche segments. And if we take the average of the most written cars in the trends of this time, we quickly paint a mixed picture. An SUV, as electrified as possible, is ideal and possibly… a coupé. It has been confirmed by the success of the “Q” Sportback in Audi, the various “G” coupes in Mercedes, the X4 and X6 in BMW … And even in the lower categories, the unexpected desire of the faithful Renault for Arkana, which was not originally intended for sale to the market France.
“Eco-Friendly” SUV coupe.
Volvo therefore offers its C40 Recharge, a coupe and a slightly reduced version of its XC40 SUV. Based on the same platform, the C40 actually looks like a mid-sized hatchback perched on large 19-inch wheels with a futuristic design (the First Twin Edition tried it). Large and strong in shape, its detailed tailgate and profile spoiler also give it a more airy appearance than its XC40 sibling.
The interior, similar to that of a conventional SUV, is presented with great care and careful design, with a completely Volvo Eco-Friendly touch. Most of the interior plastics (seat foam, soundproofing materials, interior carpet and other cabin items) are recycled, and the luxury seats with their special headrests are covered in vegan leather and alcantara. And all with a premium, more sophisticated feel than what you might find in a Tesla for example.
The main thing: speed up the excitement
Make way for driving sensations. We tested the Volvo XC40 in a plug-in hybrid version a few months ago, and were surprised to discover a very powerful and fast machine. And much to say that the C40 Recharge is also full of surprises at this level.
Thanks to its two electric motors with a combined power of 408 horsepower, its all-wheel drive, its very high torque of 660Nm and a battery with a useful capacity of 75kWh, the machine puts you in your seat with hair-raising acceleration. With 4.7 seconds from 0 to 100 km / h, it starts almost as hard as the Porsche Boxster GTS. That’s pretty impressive for a 2.2-ton car, meant mostly for urban and family use…
Even in smooth driving, the C40 is far from causing fatigue, combining the necessary sensations, flexibility and power of driving and driving calmly in the city and on small roads, without overloading the driving lanes. Only the possibility of “driving one pedal” is available. It allows you to accelerate and brake only with the accelerator pedal, and it proves to be very effective, especially taking care of your environmental driving and increasing energy savings, even if its power requires a little rest time.
Another strong or very strong thing about this C40, the ability to drive freely. Set your cruise control, let go of the wheel… and Volvo takes care of everything. In a small sequence of 15 seconds, the C40 drives itself while reading the road, braking, accelerating, adjusting, all with flexibility and surprising simplicity of use, perhaps even more than what we can find in terms of DS, Mercedes or Tesla which however is a reference in that regard.
From the point of view of electric autonomy and recharging capability, the C40 is among the most powerful machines on the market, as the 100% electric technology is owned by Volvo. In quiet and urban driving, the claimed 441 km in WLTP standards seems plausible given the average observed during the test (around 20kWh/100 km). Frequent use of fast lanes will reduce the distance to around 350-400 km.
And if you want to experience the C40’s exciting top speed, then you risk leaving it too far. The charging times considered are accurate for the category, from about forty minutes on a high-performance 150kW charger to over thirty hours on a household power station.
We love a little… Troubled tailgate
This C40, stunning and undeniably sympathetic capital, is faultless for all of that. This already popular SUV coupe significantly reduces the useful volume of the trunk (it goes from 452 liters in the XC40 to 413), and the bad rear view. Of course, many side cameras will allow you to know exactly where you can drive in complete safety in any situation, but the rear window is reduced to a narrow opening, it takes time to get used to it. This is the price to pay for this design that everyone is destroying…
Rear seating, very generous, is however hampered by the transmission tunnel, which makes the middle rear seat difficult to use.
Finally, despite some changes and exceptional acceleration, there is no question of talking about a real sports machine, since the moisture condition (very successful by the way) published forbids any very fast turn and aggressive driving, under the penalty of suffer justice. scroll effect symbol.
But at what cost? The upper part of the range in the reflector
Released from a base price of 60,150 euros (62,250 euros for the tested model), this First Edition Volvo C40 Recharge Twin is very expensive, but it aims for first positions in a sector that is currently not very competitive, but it will only last for a while. Because the main rivals of this high-performance SUV are of course the Mercedes EQA, the Audi Q4 E-Tron and most of all…
Tesla Model Y, which all observers predict as a bestseller, and which begins its commercial career in Europe. Volvo’s offensive is therefore a deterrent with this C40 Recharge Twin, intended to prevent the rise of the Telsa Y, by offering a machine with a similar shape, at the same price, and its performance to a large extent, and for it the fact of responding to customers who are more accustomed to cars standard, with a very attractive “Eco-Friendly” identity.
Now, in use, we come to wonder if the real commercial strength in the field of electric urban SUVs is on the high-performance side of the range, or rather on the side of energy-efficient machines. But here again, Volvo has a parade and will soon start selling the C40 (as well as the regular XC40 SUV) with one engine and a simple front-wheel drive, less powerful, almost like freedom, cheaper (base 46,800 euros. price)… and therefore you are eligible for government bonuses.
In any case, the Volvo with this C40 Recharge stands out as a real contender in the battle for high-end electrics, with technical, aesthetic and marketing arguments that are on fire. This will undoubtedly further increase its record market share in France this year, thanks to this strong and booming growth segment.