Volvo C40 Recharge test: is it really different from the XC40?

Volvo C40 Recharge test: is it really different from the XC40?

After the XC40 SUV, Volvo presents its first 100% model in the SUV Coupé version called the C40 Recharge. Is this new thing in the list of manufacturers really one? We tried to find out for sure.

Few manufacturers do not refuse their SUVs in the Coupé version. Volvo is no exception to this strong trend in the SUV market with its new C40. A simple variation or a real novel? This model is in any case the brand’s second step in its ambitious electrification plan which aims for Volvo to be 100% electric by 2030.

Volvo C40 is not only a new exterior design, it is also the first crossover of the brand, the first model available only with electric motorization (BEV) and the first to do completely without animal skin. That said, once it’s on board, we get the spirit of Volvo, and especially that of the Volvo XC40.

What is the change in shape?

Crossover or SUV Coupe, it is not very easy to distinguish between these two names whose definition varies significantly from one brand to another. The main thing to remember about this new Volvo C40 is its roofline which distinguishes it from the XC40. This is the main characteristic of this style, although the stylistic changes do not end there.

Volvo C40, in profile. // Source: Raphaelle Baut for Numerama

Up front we get the closed grille that was introduced on the XC40 Recharge, but the bumpers have been changed to incorporate new air intakes and new fog lights. The work on the headlights is another novelty of the C40 Recharge that we can dwell on for a while. In terms of aesthetics, the front and rear lights take on the shape of Thor’s hammer, one of the signatures of the Volvo brand. But the most innovative thing is in the technology used in the headlights: each headlight is made up of 84 LED pixels that greatly improve the ability to see at night without dazzling other road users (a technology found among others in Audi). A little coquetry of this technology, animated illuminations when the car is unlocked always cause an impression.

Volvo C40 Pixel LED lights. // Source: Raphaelle Baut for Numerama

At the rear, the aerodynamics work of this version reduces the coefficient of drag (Cx) to 0.32. To provide a point of comparison, the Tesla Model Y is advertised with a Cx of 0.23. So even if the aerodynamics have been improved on the C40, we are behind other electric references, which will affect the freedom of the model.

Finally, the new Volvo C40 will launch a new launch color, the fjord blue color that we had to try, and which succeeds well with this Volvo C40 Recharge.

Another exterior view of the Volvo C40. // Source: Raphaelle Baut for Numerama

And inside?

The changes depend mainly on the materials used in the cabin. There are more recycled materials, especially for the carpets on the floor, door panels, but also the visible inserts on the passenger side at dashboard level, all three of which are made of recycled plastic bottles.

Volvo C40 interior. // Source: Raphaelle Baut for Numerama

The C40 Recharge’s plush seats will no longer offer the option of animal leather, but the suede finish is a nice touch. Here too, Volvo is following the fundamental movement, and it’s highly likely that the entire range will see the leather disappear.

In addition to these two new features, the Scandinavian spirit of the interior design remains faithful to the other models in the range, XC40 lovers will not be disappointed with the interior environment. Still, the sloping roofline has an effect on rear visibility that is severely reduced for the driver, luckily the 360° cameras will be there to help with the maneuver. For rear seat occupants, space seems adequate, but it must be said that our test version had a paneled roof that heightens the feeling of confinement that one might have in the back of some coupe SUVs. .

A view of the Volvo C40 driver’s seat. // Source: Raphaelle Baut for Numerama

What has not changed compared to the XC40: the size of the trunk (413 liters), the high-quality sound system “Harman Kardon”, the infotainment system signed Google that is quickly adopted, and updates. “on the air” (from afar).

C40 performance

The first models to be produced will have a higher engine (408 horses, hp) with all-wheel drive and in the “First Edition” finish (all options). During 2022, the second traction engine will be released with 231 hp.

The test of the engine called Twin Recharge allowed us to realize that the power of 408 hp was present during the supported acceleration phases. But, to be honest, even if the C40 can be lively, we appreciate more to drive it in a more peaceful way, to take full advantage of its comfort.

With 150 kW (204 hp) on each axle, this engine will suit those who are looking more for a model with all-wheel drive for maximum grip, regardless of the weather. If you are looking for a model to drive well and with great efficiency, it seems more interesting to wait for the second engine of 231 hp that will arrive in 2022.

Driving a Volvo C40. // Source: Raphaelle Baut for Numerama

There are no major faults in the road behavior of the C40 Recharge, comfort takes priority, but the model retains enough power to be pleasant on small roads. You should not push it too much towards sporty driving, otherwise you may have the feeling that the car is swaying.

Its size of 4.44 meters is not too complicated for the trap in the middle of the dense traffic of Paris and its environment, in any case, as often in Volvo models, one feels safe in the car.

Self-reliance and recharging Volvo C40

If until then we had little to blame him, the issue of freedom and utility still brings a flaw to the image of this C40. The Volvo C40 battery is however theoretically sufficient with 78 kWh (75 kWh useful). But, we have here the first car, well-equipped and therefore heavy (about 2.2 tons), with average aerodynamics, for a powerful car with its two engines producing 300 kW (or 408 hp).

Volvo C40 rear view. // Source: Raphaelle Baut for Numerama

Thus, the WLTP standard gives a consumption of 20.7 to 22.3 kWh/100 km on the combined cycle, that is, a distance of 441 km. In our test, in winter conditions and with acceleration, the consumption played faster with 25 kWh/ 100 km at the end of the first part of our test loop. We got the WLTP standard fork when playing back to more ecological driving. It’s still better than the XC40, but it’s still plenty to take on long road trips with little concern for freedom.

If the “one pedal” system allows you to get less energy on deceleration without using the brakes, it will be very useful in urban traffic. The regeneration system will not be enough to make the car more efficient. Volvo lacks smart redesigns that could further increase driving comfort, if not reduce fuel consumption.

Volvo C40 One Pedal Mode. // Source: Volvo

For charging, the Volvo C40 accepts up to 150 kW at fast stations, and 11 kW for home charging. Charging from 10 to 80% on the 11 kW terminal takes 6 hours, and 0 to 80% with a good fast within 40 minutes, which is generally average.

Our test version of the “First Edition” is sold at €62,250, it will be necessary to wait until some time in 2022 for other engines to be completed to make the design more accessible, and above all to be eligible for the ecological bonus.


The Volvo C40 Recharge brings its fair share of innovations in terms of exterior design with its sloping roofline and new headlights, and an interior that includes recycled materials, while the Scandinavian style is appreciated by customers. Volvo’s DNA is unmistakable, the Volvo C40 is comfortable and safe. Everything is quite successful, but if comfort is highly valued on board, utility and therefore freedom disappoint us a little, even if the C40 does better than the XC40 in this area. Indeed, this is the aspect that reduces our enthusiasm for this novel.