When it comes to the world of electric SUVs in India, it seems that most of the action is at two ends of the spectrum – either you have luxurious electric cars like the Audi Q8 e-tron or the BMW i7 grabbing the headlines or you have the likes of the MG Comet and Tata Tiago EV taking the biggest slice of EV sales pie. Volvo had come in slick with the XC40 Recharge about a year ago offering a car that gave you just enough premiumness and performance without making you need to break the bank, while at the same time not compromising on the stand-out factor or the feature list.
The plan clearly worked as every fourth Volvo that is sold in India is the XC40 Recharge. Now, they are bringing the C40 Recharge to India which adds a pinch of sexiness to an already proven package, and we are not complaining. We got our hands on the car in the lovely roads of Lonavala and here’s how the experience went.
Volvo C40 Recharge Review: Putting the ‘Sexy’ in SUV
Let’s start with the design of the Volvo C40 Recharge as it is perhaps the biggest reason that would make you want to consider purchasing this car because, well, look at it! Yes, looks are a subjective matter but in my books, the C40 looks unassumingly stunning. Sure, it looks almost identical to the XC40 Recharge from the front – the EV that it is based on – but it does stand apart when you look at it from the sides and especially when you look at it from the back.
If you take a closer look, you will find that there is no instantly recognisable change at the front when compared to the XC40 Recharge but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because it still has a handsome appearance. From the sides, you get to see a different alloy wheel design which now looks a lot sharper than before. Interestingly, the C40 Recharge now comes with low rolling-resistance tyres and this alone contributes to an impressive 8% increase in the overall range of the C40 as compared to the XC40 Recharge. But of course, the big highlight is the sloping roofline which is aggressive and gives the car a sporty look. It definitely makes the car stand out of the crowd and is a head-turner.
From the back, what attracts your attention is the two-part spoiler system, which again, adds a 4% increase in range. So yes, this and the new tyres combined give the car an increase in range of a whopping total of 12%! Lastly, the lights have been updated too. At the front, while the design of the headlamps is the same including the signature Thor hammer LED daytime running lights, it now incorporates the new Pixel headlight technology. This means that headlamps have better illumination and now have 84 small LEDs that can auto-adjust the level of the beam based on the oncoming traffic making sure that they are not blinded. At the back, the tail lamps now intrude into the boot lid and have a start-up and shut-down animation as well.
Overall, the C40 looks a lot busier from the back but it all comes together rather well in the shape of, simply put, a good-looking car. The upside of this new shape is that the car is a lot more aerodynamic and when this is combined with additions like spoilers and different tyres, the total claimed range has now shot up to a massive 530km per charge – a total increase of over 100km. The C40 also makes use of updated battery technology as compared to the XC40 Recharge which plays in its favour for being able to go longer per charge. As per Volvo, the 78kWh battery pack can be charged from 10-80% in a matter of just 27 minutes if you can find yourself a 150kW DC fast charger.
Volvo C40 Recharge Review: Easy-to-Digest Interiors?
What may be of interest to vegetarian families in India is that the cabin is vegan as it does not use any leather at all, a unique offering for those concerned. But as for the interior experience, let’s start with the rear seat. This is where the downside of this new coupe shape can be felt as the headroom is limited. Anyone who is 6 feet and above will find it a tight squeeze being seated in the back seat. Also, the rear seat is best for two because the C40 has a transmission tunnel intruding into the legspace in the middle. Yes, the tunnel is still there as the C40 is based on the XC40 which gets a combustion engine with a conventional transmission. But that won’t be the biggest of your concerns because the C40 Recharge comes with a fixed panoramic sunroof which in simple words means you can’t cover the roof from the inside as there is no sun blind.
While this makes the cabin look great in pictures and adds a sense of space and airiness, it also will play an active role in heating up the cabin. During our time with the car, it was a cloudy day with intermittent rain, and I could still feel the cabin being warmer than expected. I can only imagine what would happen when the car is left parked under the sun in peak summers. The other downside of this new shape is that the boot space has gone down 413 litres as compared to the 452-litre space in the XC40 Recharge, a sizeable chunk of which is taken by the space-saver tyre. Although the 31-litre frunk space remains for added practicality. Lastly, the rear-view visibility is limited too, and the absence of a rear wiper was missed in these weather conditions.
However, the Volvo does have a few tricks up its sleeve to save itself in the interior experience department as the seats are comfortable and the quality of the cabin is top-notch. In case you are wondering, you won’t be able to tell if the cabin is vegan or not at first sight so there is no feeling of cost-cutting at all. The C40 Recharge also comes with topography-like designed illuminated inserts on the doors which would look fantastic at night.
The digital screen experience of the portrait-style infotainment screen and the all-digital instrument cluster has started to show its age and feels rather basic especially when you compare against the likes of the EVs coming in from the Korean siblings Hyundai and Kia.
Volvo C40 Recharge Review: Lightning Quick!
Yes, the cabin experience may not be the best but you will forget everything the moment you take the C40 Recharge out for a drive. It begins with a rather different step as there is no engine start/stop button to start the car. You simply sit on the driver’s seat, have the key on you of course, press the brake lever, put the car into Drive and well, drive away!
And once you do, what you have at your disposal are two electric motors – one at each axle – which deliver a total of 402bhp and a massive 660Nm, 40% of which goes to the front and 60% goes to the rear wheels. This will make sure that you have a smile plastered across your face whenever you are driving this car because it is blissfully quick. From a standstill, 100km/h will come in a matter of just 4.7 seconds making it hands down the quickest car this side of the Rs 60 lakh mark. It will also go all the way to a limited top speed of 180 km/h. But honestly, it is not a dash from a standstill that impresses the most, but it is the roll-on acceleration that blows your mind. It even has a great brake setup with a good feel and bite which means, when approaching a corner, you can brake late and when you are exiting, you can accelerate HARD. Sure, the low rolling resistance tyres protest audibly but the entire experience is akin to a sports car. A big departure from the typical Volvo experience and we don’t mind that at all!
We drove the C40 through bad and good roads alike and not once did the car feel out of its element – the chassis and suspension setup are great. A lot of fun can be had with the C40 Recharge and it is an experience you have to feel for yourself to fully grasp the severity of. Just make sure you ask your fellow passengers in the car to brace for the sharp acceleration as the G-forces can take you by surprise! And remember, this is a Volvo so you can have the assurance of safety. In case you are wondering, it is Euro NCAP five-star safety rated. Not unusual for a Volvo, after all.
Volvo C40 Recharge Review: Verdict
The Volvo C40 Recharge manages to carve a unique spot for itself. Sure, the rear seat experience isn’t the best and there are few things that could have been better. But overall, what you are getting for the money is a car that looks sexy, makes you stand out, and accelerates like a sports car all while giving you the eco-warrior badge. The CV40 Rechage is a highly desirable EV, the fact that it is also a Volvo, seals the deal.