Exterior and interior styling take center stage in the new Volvo electric crossover.
Clever storage options and a powerful dual-motor electric drivetrain make the C40 an appealing option for electric-car shoppers.
The C40 shares the practicality of the XC40 Recharge but packages it in a sleek, romantic exterior inspired by Swedish landscape.
You can order the Volvo C40 Recharge in any of seven different colors, but it would be a mistake to choose any but Fjord Blue. Not only is it fun to say, but it comes with a matching cerulean interior that pops like the silk lining of a vintage overcoat. It's the kind of fashion statement you don't tend to see in any cars below the level of a custom-built Rolls-Royce, and it's a delightful change from the monochromatic minimalism we’ve grown used to in electric-car cabins.
Choosing a car purely for the pretty interior is not recommended, but if you were to go that route, you could certainly justify it on the C40. Even if you don’t go with the blue, the layout inside the C40 is the same innovative and tidy design we liked on Volvo's first all-electric SUV, the XC40 Recharge. The seats are soft, roomy, and leather-free, available in either a soft wool upholstery or a mix of faux suede and faux leather micro-tech trim. The door panel pockets are wide enough for a laptop, the wireless charging phone pad will house cells both big and small, and should you prefer connected charging, there’s a wee clip above the USB ports to help keep the cord tidy.
Everything in its place is a theme in the C40. There’s a hanging hook for a purse or shopping bag in the glovebox which folds away when not needed. There’s even a snap-in spot to hold a pen, three different slots to house parking garage tickets or other easily lost and oft-needed cards and papers, and a removable trash can in the console to get rid of the less-needed ones.
The back seat has plenty of headroom, even with the lowered roofline, and the doors are attached on the outer body of the car, to offer added space for stepping in, or lifting a kid into a child seat. The same outside-hinge approach was used for the rear hatch, to prevent any loss of headroom in the back, and to give designers and excuse to use cool little winglet roof covers. Rear cargo space will be slightly, but not dramatically, less than the square-roofed XC40, and the clever cargo hooks and stowable cargo cover we liked in that vehicle make it over to the C40 as well.
If Volvo followed some of the more typical car naming conventions, the C40 might be called an "XC40 Recharge Coupe," since it shares the Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) platform and dual-motor, all-electric AWD powertrain with that crossover, but it packages them under a sleek, curved roofline. Unlike the XC40 Recharge, which is also available as a gas-powered SUV, the C40 is only available in Recharge all-electric form. Either because the designers wanted to highlight the change in personality from the more upright and square XC40, or because they believed that coupe is reserved for two-doors, the C40 gets its own designation.
We weren’t able to drive the new model, but since we know it offers the same combined 402 horsepower of the XC40 on the same chassis, we can safely guess that it will perform similarly in acceleration, range, and pleasant, balanced driving character. Volvo claims zero to 60 mph in in 4.7 seconds, a range estimate of 208 miles, and recharge times of 40 minutes to 80 percent for the XC40. We expect the same or slightly better for the C40.
A major move for Volvo with the XC40 Recharge, and used now for C40, was the development with Google Android Auto of an integrated operating system. Rather than simply mirroring a cell, drivers can log in with a Google ID and have instant access to maps, contacts, music, and Google voice recognition, with or without connecting a phone. This is the same system used on the Polestar 2.
Fans of knobs and buttons may find the C40's smooth touchscreen interface unappealing, but it looks lovely, surrounded by a backlit textured trim which feeds across the dash and around the front door panels. The design of that trim is based on topographical maps of Sweden's Abisko National Park, in case you need a fun bit of trivia for your passengers.
Volvo is taking reservations for the C40 online now, with pricing and trim levels to be announced. We expect a level at or above the XC40’s $55,085 starting point. Deliveries of the swoopy electric are expected in the first quarter of 2022.
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