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Volvo C40 rechargeable mini-rocket vehicle

I’m glad Volvo gave its smallest EV this much power and joy even if it didn’t have to. Although the range and acceleration are excellent, the native Android operating system is far from ideal.

More and more manufacturers are releasing their second or third generation of electric vehicles (EVs), which are battery-powered automobiles that roll on chassis made expressly to house electric motors rather than engines. Volvo’s current EV models are still operating on the CMA platform, which has been around for five years and can support anything from turbo diesels to lithium-ion batteries.

Platform adaptability would appear to be a significant disadvantage, but when the final car drives, looks, and feels this fantastic, it’s difficult to see this as a negative.

This is Volvo’s smallest EV, also known as the C40 Recharge Twin Ultimate. Only just, though. It is just slightly smaller than the XC40 Recharge, with the rear hatch shortened to create the crossover-coupe design that is currently quite popular, to use Mugatu’s phrase. Going C40 instead of XC40 results in a loss of 2.4 inches of back headroom and 8.5 cubic feet of load space. You receive the more modern design and personality that so many of today’s EVs sadly lack in exchange.

The C40 has a fresher style but less cargo space than the XC40.
Large-scale energy

The C40 Recharge has a minimalist, angular appearance, from the Thor’s hammer headlamps up front to the sharply sloping back window (which regrettably lacks a wiper). It is not at all ostentatious, but few Scandinavian designs are, despite the fact that they are typically so very, very wonderful.

This vehicle was painted by Volvo in the attractive light metallic colour “fjord blue,” which is sadly the Swedish manufacturer’s most daring color in recent years. There are three grays—one of which is almost green—a red, a white, two blacks, and a white in the full range of C40 Recharge color possibilities. Disappointing.

The C40 Recharge appears sleek and modern

But once you enter, everything is pardoned. Take a look at the interior, which is emphasized by an even more intense colour that is oddly still referred to as fjord blue. I’m not sure why Volvo chose this particular moniker; however, I adore the end effect, which features a finely woven cerulean carpet along with suede microfiber and vinyl seats, all of which are capped by a charcoal headliner. Volvo interiors of the present day always look fantastic, and this one is really nice. It’s a huge plus that there is absolutely no leather in it.

All of this is topped off by a laminated, tinted glass roof that lets in enough of light without the glare. The glow from the door and dash inlays at night is so faint that at first you’ll swear you’re seeing things. It’s a brilliant effect that, while less garish, is just as memorable as the technicolor LEDs found on many contemporary German luxury vehicles.

All of that is encased in an eight-inch portrait-oriented touchscreen that houses Android Automotive, which is arguably the most disappointing feature of the entire vehicle.

Overuse of Android

I was completely on board when Google unveiled this supremely strong native flavor of Android for cars back in 2019. Polestar, a country relative of the house brand, and Volvo were both joining up.

Years after Android Automotive first appeared on the market, not much has changed. The app selection isn’t much better than it was at launch, and it still lacks some popular apps that have long been available on Android Auto for smartphones. The most aggravating thing is that you still can’t utilize the Android Auto phone-based interface, but at least Apple CarPlay is now available.

The overall impression is one of fundamental frustration

The overall experience is disappointingly simplistic, notably the gauge cluster’s lack of customizability and its two nearly identical displays. The features that are present, thankfully, function properly. You’ll feel right at home if you’re a Google user who relies on the search giant’s Google Assistant, Calendar, Contacts, and Maps. Providing precise range estimations for each location, including round trips, and automatically recommending charging stops along the way, the navigation experience is simply excellent. Finding goods and changing car settings are both made simple by the integrated assistant, which also puts an end to arguments on long road trips concerning esoteric facts.

Range

However, such car trips will either be brief or regularly cut short by charging. The C40’s range is also a worry, though I haven’t found it to be a major issue during my testing. The C40 Recharge Twin Ultimate has an EPA rating of 226 miles on a single charge and a combined MPGe rating of 87, or 39kWh per 100 miles. That is on the conservative side, averaging 34.1kWh per 100 miles, according to my testing of the car at mixed city and highway speeds. You’re looking at a theoretical maximum range of 255 miles given the 87kWh battery in the automobile. In my opinion, that is plenty.

Over several loans, I consistently exceeded the EPA rating while discovering that Google Maps’ integrated range estimations were accurate. That’s not just heartening but also impressive considering that I can’t help but drive this thing a little fast.

A 255-mile theoretical maximum range is what you’re looking at

You see, despite the fact that it could appear to be a polished and mildly adorable crossover SUV, this vehicle is actually quite rocket-powered. The C40 Recharge’s two electric motors provide 402 horsepower and 486 pound-feet of torque. With that, the zero to sixty sprint will take 4.5 seconds, which is roughly on line with the new Nissan Z.

Addictive torque exists. Since I couldn’t help sampling more of the go pedal than I needed out of every corner and intersection when conducting range testing on this, I actually felt horrible about it. However, I couldn’t help but smile every time I watched the Recharge accelerate forward while the inner front tire fought for traction. Even if this platform is unfocused, the fact that you can drive it that way and yet outperform the EPA rating speaks something about its strength.

However, this is an SUV, not a sports car. It’s fun to glide along winding roads without applying the brakes with one-pedal driving, and handling is more exciting than you may anticipate. The ride quality is fairly nice, which is more significant. Despite the Tesla Model Y’s larger 20-inch wheels and tires, the C40 Recharge drives more smoother. Additionally, it is naturally peaceful and silent in a way that can only be achieved by a well-engineered EV.

Security and luxury

Even though the door test is rather outdated and an unreliable way to assess a car’s quality, closing any of the C40’s four doors makes a vault-like sound. With a commanding clunk you can feel in your chest, they close the door to the outside world. However, if you’re in the back seats, you might also feel it at the crown of your head. Although the rear seat headroom is negatively impacted by the coupe-like roofline, shorter people and children won’t be too bothered.

The platform’s stability makes it an excellent location for the 13-speaker Harman Kardon sound system. Queuing up songs is simple if you use YouTube Music, but the car sounds amazing even if you’re using BYO audio from another service after a little adjusting to make sure the highs aren’t being masked by the bass.

The enormous volume knob with the integrated play/pause button that Volvo still thoughtfully includes in all of its vehicles is my favorite component of the audio system. It feels so nice to turn that knob counterclockwise to mute the music because it is heavy enough to do so. I constantly utilize the dedicated play/pause buttons on any Volvo I test, so I’m left wondering why more manufacturers don’t do the same.

Pricing and rivalry

This audio system is included in the Ultimate package, which has a starting price of $58,750. It also includes the panoramic glass roof and a dozen additional features. For that, you receive Pilot Assist, a comprehensive active safety system from Volvo that includes automated emergency braking, adaptive cruise control with lane-keep assist, and adaptive cruise. In colder climates, a heat pump increases range, and a 360-degree camera aids in parking.

A $695 fjord blue paint upgrade is required. For an additional $1,095 destination fee, you may purchase the automobile seen here for $60,540. Even when you compare it to the gas-powered versions of Volvo, it is still a bit pricey for such a small SUV. The price of an identically equipped XC40 B5 Ultimate is $49,290, but that vehicle uses gas and has only around half the torque.

What if you’re considering a Tesla? Although the Model Y is bigger, I believe many people will cross-shop because it’s near enough. The Tesla has a range advantage when compared, with the Long Range offering 318 miles, but you’ll pay for it. The starting price of the Model Y Long Range is $65,990 + $1,200 for shipping. When you factor in the dubious actions of Autopilot, the diminished ride quality, and the interior’s unmistakably low-class feel, the C40 Recharge is a far better investment in my opinion.

The C40 is not by any means a cheap car, but because of how effectively it drives, you can overlook its average range and lackluster infotainment. The moment you seat down, close the vault-like door, and start to drive away, the automobile makes you feel better. It is that tidy, composed, and capable. Or, as I will do, charge forward while giggling like a hellion.

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