2022 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge: A Great EV But Not Perfect
Are You Ready for Your First EV?by Steven Hammes, on
Perhaps more than any other legacy brand, Volvo has been the most intentional about their transition to an all-electric lineup; slating 2030 as the goal line. Currently, plug-in hybrids dominate Volvo’s offerings, but they do have a couple of pure EVs right now: the XC40 Recharge and this C40 Recharge, both of which can only be purchased online.
2022 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge: A Great EV But Not Perfect
Horsepower @ RPM:402
0-60 time:4.5 sec.
Top Speed:112 mph
Volvo’s sales approach to their electric models is for the shopper to configure and order the vehicle on their retail website, reducing exposure to the dealership. About 2 weeks later (in most cases) and your car will be delivered to the Volvo store of your choosing. And regarding the C40, that process is very easy because there are ostensibly no options other than color. And isn’t this upcharge Fjord Blue paint magnificent? This mono-trim C40 Recharge comes in the new Ultimate specification with all of the features such as a fixed Panoramic Moonroof, headlights with new pixel LEDs which automatically adjust by shining only those diodes required for the specific light conditions, the steering-assisted, adaptive cruise control system Volvo calls Pilot Assist, an innovative Harman Kardon sound system that has its woofer installed behind the dash to free-up interior space, a surround view camera and 20” wheels. MSRP is $60,540, and this model does qualify for a $7,500 federal tax break. Volvo also offers a subscription model called Care by Volvo that’s similar to a traditional lease without the long-term commitment including insurance, but it’s for models already in-stock of which there are very few these days.
So as not to bury the lede, the C40 delivers 226 miles of driving range with a battery that can fast-charge from 10% to 80% in about 40 minutes at 150 kW, the most common type of public fast charger. But all of these EV metrics are subject to climate variability, station throughput, etc. But our temperate spring weather is perfect for maximizing the drive and for getting juice into the battery pack as quickly as possible.
When you either purchase or subscribe to the C40, public charging is initially complimentary with discounted rate thereafter. But Volvo’s partnership is with ChargePoint, and at least here in my area, they only provide level 2 chargers and those are free anyway. So I’m using a nearby Electrify America station to bring the C40 up to about an 80% charge at a cost of about $15; not an insignificant charge but, of course, a whole heck of a lot better than buying gas. Why not fill it to 100% you ask? Well, let’s talk about that.
The Caveats of EV Charging
After the lithium-ion battery is charged to 80% the vehicle’s onboard battery management system slows its roll, bringing the electricity to a trickle in order avoid overcharging and damaging the battery. So, it’s not recommended to fast-charge beyond 80% capacity unless you’re, say, taking a long trip and need every mile available. A level 2 charger (240 V), whether installed in your garage or in public, adds about 25 miles of range per hour. Or if you decide you don’t need a wall box charger at home you can simply plug-in to an ordinary household outlet to add about 5 miles of range per hour. Just remember; cold temperatures have detrimental effects on lithium-ion batteries resulting in longer charge times and a driving range that is penalized by up to 40%. But the C40 can be updated over-the-air and Volvo says they expect to extend this car’s range at some point doing exactly that.
EV Acceleration FTW
The C40 has twin electric motors, front and rear, to provide permanent all-wheel drive and very quick acceleration. 402 horsepower and 487 pound-feet of torque are delivered with an urgency that gas-powered cars just can’t match. If you’ve never driven an EV this will be your lasting impression: they’re quick. And this one will do 0-to-60 mph in a mere 4.7 seconds, prompting a bit of torque-steer as you launch. Volvo has selected some pretty meaty and very expensive tires for the C40: 20” Pirelli Scorpion Zero all-season sport truck tires. So, the grip is strong, yet the C40 doesn’t drive like a sport model.
Is the C40 Supposed to be Sporty?
The standout feature of the C40’s drive is undoubtedly its crazy, neck-snapping acceleration. It’s incredibly quick on its feet but not overtly sporty. As a matter of fact, this body is free to move about quite a bit with a suspension that leans towards comfort-tuned. But frankly, it lacks a little sophistication over harsh impacts. In regards to one-pedal drive, it is available – activated on the touchscreen - for those who prefer to drive the vehicle with just their right foot; no brake pedal required. But if left off, it exposes the C40’s lackluster brake pedal feel. And at this price I would expect to see a head-up display - even my Kona EV has one. Nevertheless, with this degree of fleetness I often forget about the C40’s shortcomings.
Bigger Than It Looks
The C40’s coupe-like roofline is deceiving as there’s actually more room inside than expected, particularly rear seat headroom which is excellent. And the cargo area is cut wide and is boxy with seats that fold flat for larger than anticipated carrying space - about the same as a Honda HR-V. There’s a little more cargo room in the small frunk where the engine would normally be. Volvo also sells load bars for the roof that can carry all sorts of helpful accessories.
Volvo’s minimalist cabin design has been stretched to the limits here with almost no exposed switchgear but this matching Fjord Blue Microtech synthetic material combined with the charcoal seats is an attractive look but the door inserts feel a little cheap. And it’s 100% leather-free as are all new fully electric Volvos will be going forward.
Where’s The Start Button?
The C40 is full of quirkiness. You will not find a start-stop button here; simply press on the brake, put it in gear and it’s ready to go. Volvo isn’t the first company to do this, by the way. Then when driving is over, press ‘park’ and the car just shuts off or you can manually perform that function on the center screen. Speaking of which, Volvo has turned their infotainment duties over to Google. Personally, I don’t care for this takeover besides the fact that Google Maps is far superior to any Volvo navigation system. But there’s no phone projection here. I have an iPhone, I love Apple CarPlay yet I cannot connect my device to this Volvo either wired or wirelessly.
- No sunshade or opaque filter for the glass roof,
- driver information display is basic for an EV,
- climate control temperature settings can only be set in even increments,
- backup camera does not default to the 360° view when choosing reverse,
- an off-road drive mode but no sport mode,
- I prefer the EV charge port at or near the front of the vehicle – not on the left rear as is the case with the C40 – which doesn’t necessitate backing into a parking spot.
Though I’m intrigued by the styling, respect the ethos and crave the acceleration, I’m just not connecting with the C40 in a way that makes me crave one, especially at this price point.