2023 Volvo C40 Recharge first drive review
You get into the Volvo C40 Recharge with the key, put the gear selector into drive and quietly get out of the parking lot. There’s no start/stop button like many new EVs are adopting, and since the infotainment is powered by Google, you don’t need to connect your phone to use Google maps. Life behind the wheel of the C40 is as easy as it comes. A battery on full charge, a beautiful strip on winding road in the Sahyadris and relatively low traffic commute to the shoot location. The day was looking good from behind the wheel. The C40 Recharge shares its platform and everything up to the B-pillar with the XC40 Recharge. Beyond that is what makes this car interesting, so I find a nice spot near a lake and explore more.
Design and styling of the 2023 Volvo C40 Recharge
The roof dramatically drops beyond the B-pillar, giving the C40 that striking derriere. The roof gets a cool split spoiler and there’s a slender second spoiler on the bootlid too. A new set of dynamic taillamps make the C40 look sportier than the XC40, but besides the rear end and the new alloy wheels, the two look identical. In profile, the stance looks attractive, upping the desirability quotient of Volvo’s second electric car in India considerably. The XC40 Recharge was a pleasant surprise for EV enthusiasts with its packaging, performance and price. The C40 aims to take that to the next level with an extra scoop of style.
Interior and features of the 2023 Volvo C40 Recharge
Step inside the C40 and the familiarity with the XC40 Recharge is evident. You get the same 100 percent leather free interior, built out of recycled plastics and vegan materials. The steering cover feels like leather but it isn’t. Volvo is spending a lot on the innovation of these new materials for a more sustainable future. You get many of the Google services in the infotainment screen, without connecting your phone so navigation, google assistant, all works better than every other native stuff other manufacturers use. It also means you don’t need to connect your battery-heavy Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. Move to the back seat and the side effects of a beautifully tapering roofline are evident. Headroom is compromised a bit, but it is a small price to pay for a beautiful design. The C40 is strictly a four seater. You can seat five but you won’t quite like the fifth friend/family member sitting in the middle seat, because there’s a massive transmission tunnel in the C40 Recharge that eats into legroom. It’s got no function there but the only-electric C40 shares its platform with the XC40 and re-engineering that bit would have been costly for Volvo, so the tunnel stays, and so stays your fifth passenger at home.
Powertrain and range of the 2023 C40 Recharge
Another piece of equipment shared with the XC40 Recharge is the twin-motor setup that makes 402bhp (300kW) and 660Nm of torque. The two motors don’t split power distribution 50/50 like in the XC40 Recharge though. The front axle gets 40 percent of the power and the rear gets 60 percent of it, changing the dynamics of the car to a more sportier setting. More on that in the next section though. Back to the performance, torque at 0rpm and a more slippery silhouette allows the C40 Recharge to do the 0-100kmph sprint in just 4.7 seconds, mighty quick for a car that will cost a shade above 60 lakh rupees. It is 0.2 seconds faster than the XC40 Recharge due to its lower drag. The battery pack is the same 78kWh unit as the XC40 Recharge but with the C40, Volvo changed suppliers and the pack now uses more energy dense batteries than before. That gives it a WLTP range of 530km, 112km more than the XC40 Recharge you currently get in India. The XC40 Recharge will get the newer energy dense cells soon so hold on to your XC40 Recharge purchase till that happens. The ICAT tested the C40 Recharge too and got a 683km range figure, but then again, you won’t get this much range in the real world. 450-500km is the more realistically achievable number.
Ride and handling of the 2023 Volvo C40 Recharge
As is common with all EVs, there aren't any vibrations from the powertrain, and that makes the driving experience very relaxing. There is ample performance on tap yet the Volvo C40 Recharge can be driven in an easy manner as a daily driver, but as speeds rise, you notice road imperfections frequently, and larger undulations especially around sweeping corners make the C40 pitch and roll more than I’d expect of a car delivering such performance. It lacks the sophistication of the German cars in the dynamics department, but the C40 is the sportier of the two electric Volvos. The rear biassed power distribution changes the character of the crossover, egging you to push it more through a series of bends than you would with other Volvos. The compact dimensions also make it the right size for our roads. Only if the C40 Recharge had stronger brakes and a slightly stiffer set up, it would be a lot more fun to drive around the twisties.
Verdict on the 2023 Volvo C40 Recharge
In this unconventional space, the C40 Recharge is the more desirable of the two electric Volvos. It goes up against the Kia EV6 and the Hyundai Ioniq 5 for the performance and price. The launch is on the 4th of September and deliveries begin next month as well. It should be 10-15 percent costlier than the XC40 Recharge considering the longer range of the new battery pack so expect prices to be around the Rs 62-65 lakh mark. The design and sustainable luxury this car offers only adds to its appeal, but will the higher sticker price make you want to buy one? Leave us a comment.