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2022 Volvo C40 Recharge Review: Style Matters (But So Does Substance)

2022 Volvo C40 Recharge | Photo: D.Boshouwers
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Derek Boshouwers
The C40 is a cockier version of the XC40 Recharge we already knew, but is it all that different?
2022 Volvo C40 Recharge, charging
2022 Volvo C40 Recharge, charging | Photo: D.Boshouwers

Auto123 reviews the 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge.

Volvo already had a small all-electric SUV in its lineup. Why another? Well, for one thing, it, like all automakers or just about, has committed to electrification and thus needs bodies to fill out its roster. SUV-shaped bodies. But also, there are folks who might find the existing XC40 Recharge BEV a trifle… conventional, at least in its looks if not in its way of propelling itself forward. Enter the C40, a sportier variant than aims to make being seen in a Volvo SUV a more exciting prospect.

In the eye of the beholder
Looks-wise, thus, the C40 is basically the butchier sibling of the XC40, the coupe-style equivalent to that rectangular small SUV. Think BMW’s X1 and X2 duo. The front ends of the two Volvos are pretty much the same – look at the two side by side from the front and you’re looking at two electric peas in a pod - but the C40’s roofline is lower to the ground and drops as you track back towards the rear. The floating roof back there and the sharper LED taillights give the C a more aggressive demeanour than the X.

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2022 Volvo C40 Recharge, profile
2022 Volvo C40 Recharge, profile | Photo: D.Boshouwers

The styling differences do affect visibility out the back for drivers, as well as the head space available to rear-seat passengers. I’m also torn regarding the overall look of the thing. Yes, its cut is more aggressive than the XC40’s, but even with the sloping roofline there’s still something stumpy about the body of the C40; it’s as if it could use a little stretching horizontally to make it perfectly proportioned. I also get when looking at its profile the same vaguely mushroom-like vibe I get from the bigger BMW and Mercedes coupe-crossover-SUVs. You like it or you don’t, I guess.

Personal tastes aside, though, this C40 is a welcome addition to the roster of all-electric crossovers out there on the market, and for that matter, it’s central to the plan laid out by the Swedish (but Chinese-owned) automaker to attain 50-percent all-electric sales by 2025, and sell nothing but BEVs by 2030.

2022 Volvo C40 Recharge, front
2022 Volvo C40 Recharge, front | Photo: D.Boshouwers

On the road
What else the C40 is, is a strong performer, thanks first of all to its butchy powertrain, which features two 150-kW electric motors, one per axle and thus AWD, with maximum output pegged at a very healthy 450 hp and 486 lb-ft of torque. Yes, this thing weighs an also healthy 2,100 kg or more, but it shoots off the line like a lightweight bat fleeing hell. 0-100 km/h acceleration takes but 4.7 seconds, and the 60-100 km/h part is just as quick as the first part so highway on-ramping and passing are a dream. A very quiet dream as well, given the absence of an ICE. Power is not something this compact crossover is short of.

However, that stumpy frame does mean that sometimes it doesn’t feel as road-sticky as you’d like, so be aware before you start careening to and fro on winding country roads. Still though, handling is impressive, the steering precise (if light) and the braking solid.

The latter can even be done using essentially one pedal if you so choose (via the regenerative braking function). Unlike in some other recent EVs, there’s no gradation, meaning you can’t choose your level of braking supplied by the powertrain, it’s on or it’s off. And when on, it can be a bit much for some folks, especially passengers. Your choice.

2022 Volvo C40 Recharge, interior
2022 Volvo C40 Recharge, interior | Photo: D.Boshouwers

In the interior
Volvo makes much of avoiding leather for the interior of the C40 and the prioritization of sustainable materials makes perfect sense in a BEV. It all looks good as well, particularly the nifty Fjord Blue carpeting and accents found on the floor, the doors and elsewhere.

The two screens, meanwhile, get a thumbs up and mitigated thumbs down. The 12.3-inch data screen looks great and is highly configurable without too much trouble. The 9.3-inch multimedia screen also looks great, but while its interface is less annoying to use than Volvo’s previous-generation system, it’s still needlessly complicated and non-intuitive for our taste. Work remains to be done here.

Otherwise, the seating is comfortable and the space feels roomy in both rows, this even with the more-sloping roofline of the C40 in comparison with the XC40.

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Derek Boshouwers
Derek Boshouwers
Automotive expert
  • Over 5 years' experience as an automotive journalist
  • More than 50 test drives in the past year
  • Participation in over 30 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists