2023 Volvo C40 Recharge Twin review
Who said Volvo only makes boxes on wheels?
The C40 Recharge is a departure from the brand’s usual form with its SUVs.
First of all it’s an SUV coupe, something the brand has never done before. Secondly, it’s the only model in the brand’s range solely offered with electric power – though that’s changing soon with the upcoming EX90.
Sharing its bones with the Volvo XC40 as well as the Polestar 2, the C40 Recharge is another body style for those who find the XC40 a little too boxy, as well as an alternative to other coupe-styled SUVs in the premium SUV market.
While the C40 hit the Australian market less than six months ago, Volvo recently announced an updated version is coming very soon with a new rear-drive motor layout, as well as improvements to range and charging speeds.
So while the current model is quite compelling in its own right, should you pull the trigger now or wait for the new RWD model?
We grabbed the keys to the top-spec 2023 Volvo C40 Recharge Twin to find out.
How much does the Volvo C40 Recharge Twin cost?
Volvo increased prices of the C40 Recharge by $1000 from January 1, meaning the vehicle you see here now starts from $83,490 plus on-road costs.
It’s $7500 dearer than the single-motor C40 Recharge, which also runs with the lesser ‘Plus’ specification rather than the decked-out ‘Ultimate’ spec standard with the Twin.
That lines it up with the likes of the upcoming BMW iX1 xDrive30 ($82,900), Mercedes-Benz EQA 250 ($81,700) and Volvo’s own XC40 Recharge Twin ($81,490).
You can also throw in the Hyundai Ioniq 5 Epiq AWD ($85,000) and Kia EV6 GT-Line AWD ($87,590), while the closest Tesla Model Y is the top-spec Performance ($94,900). Only the Tesla betters the C40 Twin in terms of performance claims.
2023 Volvo C40 Recharge pricing:
- Volvo C40 Recharge: $75,990
- Volvo C40 Recharge Twin: $83,490
Prices exclude on-road costs
What is the Volvo C40 Recharge Twin like on the inside?
If you’ve ever sat in an XC40, this is nigh on identical.
Everything from the B-pillar forward is shared with the XC40, so you get the same seats, steering wheel, displays, and overall cockpit design.
It’s all distinctively Volvo in that it’s clean, ergonomically sound, and feels built to a high quality. There’s a good mix of soft-touch surfaces on all the main contact areas combined with harder materials on the lower sections.
The C40 Recharge’s interior is devoid of any leather options in the pursuit of sustainability, with the Twin getting a “Fusion’ of Microtech and Textile upholstery in Charcoal.
While it’s nice to see manufacturers try animal-free solutions, the upholstery isn’t as breathable as I’d like, and as someone who runs hot you might find you get a bit of back and under-thigh sweat. Ew.
Shame there’s no seat ventilation to go with the standard heating. At least there’s a good range of electric adjustment as well as a wide range of reach and rake adjustability for the steering wheel.
There’s also some funky interior lighting in the form of the ‘Topography’ decor, which lights up at night in a three-dimensional effect. It’s something different, and is an acquired taste.
Overall the C40 feels light and airy, which gives an impression of space much like the XC40. It’ll feel like a bigger car up front than it really is.
Display tech is also quite familiar for anyone that’s sat in a recent Volvo model.
The C40 Recharge is powered by Google’s Android Automotive operating system, which brings internet connectivity and a portfolio of Google-based functions like Maps and the intelligent Google Assistant.
Aesthetically it’s a little different to the old Volvo Sensus interface but maintains some of the overall look, which again plays into the ease of use. It’s functional, quick to respond and offers wired Apple CarPlay functionality – oddly, no Android Auto.
It’s also worth noting most of the vehicle’s functions like the climate controls are toggled via the touchscreen, though Volvo was one of the first to do this. It’s one of the better takes on this concept, but I still personally prefer physical switchgear. At least there’s a volume knob.
I personally prefer the old Volvo digital instrument cluster, which had a configurable middle section nestled between virtual dials. This new version has semi-circles for the dials – better than Polestar’s even more pared-back skin – but there’s very little in the way of configurability compared to something like Audi’s virtual cockpit.
Storage is a strong point as you’d expect, with an array of nooks, crannies and cradles for all your odds and ends.
There’s a big cubby under the centre stack which houses the wireless charger, and there’s space on either side for smaller items like coins or sunglasses.
Big carpet-lined door bins offer good space for larger water bottles, and the fabric lining means metallic stuff won’t rattle around on the road and cause a nuisance.
Cupholders and a decent-sized central storage bin reside between the front seats, further bolstering the storage and practicality suite.
Despite the sloping roofline and panoramic glass roof in this variant, the second row remains quite good for the class, with less headroom than the boxy XC40 but more knee- and legroom than most rivals.
At 6’1 I could comfortably sit behind my preferred driving position, which isn’t always a given in this segment.
There are amenities like a fold-down centre armrest with cupholders, directional rear air vents, a USB-C charging outlet, heated rear seats, and more large door pockets with carpet lining.
Being based on an internal combustion architecture, the C40 retains a large driveline hump. It’s a shame Volvo hasn’t engineered a flat floor solution given the EV powertrain technology – something that also has to be said for the related Polestar 2.
Volvo quotes a cargo capacity of 413 litres for the C40 Recharge with its rear seats in place. According to Volvo Australia’s website, that’s just six litres less than the equivalent XC40 Recharge.
However, database specifications say there’s 489L-1205L of volume back there (five seat/two seat). Perhaps it’s down to which figure includes underfloor storage or the small ‘frunk’ which is perfect for hiding your charging cables.
Don’t go looking for a spare wheel under the boot floor because you won’t find one – there’s only a repair kit.
What’s under the bonnet?
As its name suggests, the C40 Recharge Twin is powered by a twin-motor electric drivetrain.
There’s a pair of 150kW/330Nm e-motors – one on each axle – making for system outputs of 300kW and 660Nm – quite a lot of grunt for a compact car.
A 78kWh lithium-ion battery feeds the twin-motor setup, which Volvo claims is good for “up to 500km” on a full charge, with a claimed efficiency rate of 22.2kWh per 100km for the Twin variant.
The C40 Recharge can charge at a rate of up to 150kW using a DC fast charger, which can replenish 10 to 80 per cent in as little as 28 minutes.
Zero to 100km/h takes a claimed 4.7 seconds. Worth noting is the C40 Recharge Twin’s tare weight of 2154kg. The C40 Recharge Twin is rated to tow up to 1800kg, up from the single-motor’s 1500kg rating.
How does the Volvo C40 Recharge Twin drive?
Having recently driven a Polestar 2, and previously spending some time in an XC40 Recharge, the C40 offered few surprises.
You’ll notice there’s no start button when you first get in… you just hop in, put on your seatbelt and engage Drive, and you’re off.
Like its platform mates, the C40 Recharge Twin has a long-travel accelerator, particularly in one-pedal mode, which can make it feel a little lazy. It also means you aren’t jolting off the line with all 300kW and 660Nm by accident.
In normal driving it’s quite docile, and once you adjust to how it delivers its power it plods along nicely around town. The near-silent whirring of the electric motors means it’s a really quiet thing to commute in.
There’s a hint of road noise over rougher surfaces in town, but I’ve definitely experienced worse from other premium-badged compact vehicles.
The Twin’s massive 20-inch alloys and 235/45 tyres contribute to a firm urban ride. While it doesn’t crash over bumps in an unrefined or clumsy manner, it picks up a lot of imperfections which can make it feel jittery or unsettled.
It’s a shame Volvo and Polestar don’t have adaptive damping in their compact EVs, because the added weight on bigger wheels means the cars really could use the extra flexibility.
The C40’s steering is pretty light and not super communicative, clearly more geared towards comfort and easy manoeuvrability around town.
Combine this with decent outward visibility – bar the slim rear windows – chunky mirrors and the 360-degree camera that’s standard in the Twin specification, and the C40 is an easy enough thing to park and navigate tight city streets or car parks.
While it has that big-car feel with its high belt line and chunky proportions, it’s still fairly compact and certainly feels that way when you have to try and fit into a tight parking space, for example.
Once you escape city limits and get on the highway the Volvo’s firmer setup settles nicely, and its big footprint gives a nice sense of stability and security.
That big-car feel really comes together on the open road and, provided you can factor in public chargers into your route plans, it’s more than capable of being an excellent road trip companion.
Road and wind noise are kept to acceptable levels, and Volvo’s impressive Pilot Assist – which combines adaptive cruise and lane centring functions – takes the load off extended freeway stints.
Likewise, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert always come in handy, and the LED headlights offer good illumination – though it’s a shame we can’t get the Pixel LED adaptive units locally.
While this thing quotes big performance numbers, it’s not what I’d call particularly sporty.
Yes the C40 charges in a straight line, and can slingshot itself out of corners with a lot of muscle. However, that light steering and heavy body means it’s just not the most engaging car for tearing up a B-road.
Let’s be very clear, that’s totally fine given this car’s target demographic. But, if you’re looking for an EV crossover that’s still got a bit of dynamic verve to it, I’d recommend maybe looking at something like the new BMW iX1 or the Kia EV6… if you can get your hands on one.
What do you get?
C40 Recharge highlights:
- 19-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels
- 9.0-inch Android Automotive infotainment infotainment
- 4 year data subscription
- Google Services
- Over-the-air updates
- Wireless phone charging
- Keyless entry and start
- Dual-zone climate control
- Heated front seats
- Heated rear seats
- Hands-free power tailgate
- LED headlights
- Fixed panoramic roof
- Hill descent control
- Power-folding exterior mirrors
- Auto-dimming mirrors
- Power-folding rear headrests
C40 Recharge Twin adds:
- Dual-motor all-wheel drive
- 20-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels
- LED front fog lights
- Power folding rear headrests
- Surround-view camera
- Harman Kardon sound system
- Microtech and textile interior
Is the Volvo C40 Recharge Twin safe?
Like its XC40 sibling, the C40 Recharge wears a five-star ANCAP safety rating, based on Euro NCAP testing conducted in 2022.
It scored 92 per cent for adult occupant protection, 89 per cent for child occupant protection, 70 per cent for vulnerable road user protection, and 91 per cent for safety assist.
While the C40 received praise from the independent crash tester for its impressive performance, it received a 4.00-point penalty for vehicle-to-vehicle compatibility, as it presents “a higher risk to occupants of an oncoming vehicle, if struck”.
For reference, the related Volvo XC40’s safety rating (2018 stamped) features a 97 per cent score for adult occupant protection, 84 per cent for child occupant protection, 71 per cent for vulnerable road users and 78 per cent for safety assist.
Standard safety features include:
- 8 airbags
- incl. driver’s knee
- incl. front-centre airbag
- Adaptive cruise control with Traffic Jam Assist
- Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
- City, Interurban speeds
- Junction assist
- Vulnerable Road User detection
- AEB reverse
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Front, rear parking sensors
- Hill descent control
- Hill start assist
- Lane departure warning
- Lane keep assist
- Reversing camera
- Traffic sign recognition
C40 Recharge Twin adds:
- 360-degree camera system
- Side parking sensors
How much does the Volvo C40 Recharge Twin cost to run?
The C40 is covered by Volvo’s five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.
Plug-in hybrid and electric models with lithium batteries have their energy storage units also warranted for five years.
Beyond that, Volvo throws in three years or 100,000 kilometres of free servicing in, as well as eight years of complementary roadside assistance. Scheduled maintenance is required every two years (24 months) or 30,000 kilometres – whichever comes first.
In terms of real-world efficiency and charging, I saw an indicated 21.6kWh per 100km over 415km of mixed driving during my week with the C40 Recharge. While that’s not that efficient by compact EV standards, it’s actually better than Volvo’s 22.2kWh/100km claim.
As for charging, I hooked up a DC charger and saw a peak rate of around 135kW – a little below the brand’s claimed peak claimed charging rate of 150kW.
CarExpert’s Take on the Volvo C40 Recharge Twin
It may be a fairly unique offering within the Volvo line-up, but the C40 Recharge offers few surprises.
As we’ve come to expect, the C40 represents a solid and practical EV that’s priced competitively to its rivals given the specification and performance on offer in this Twin variant.
It also won’t be a complete shock for buyers who want to go electric but might be turned off by more futuristic offerings from Tesla, and retains the bank-vault feel Volvo’s SUVs are known for.
Quibbles include a relatively inefficient electric drivetrain in this specification – tall, heavy SUV bodies don’t maximise range – and while the cabin is well finished and practical, the black-on-black colour scheme is a bit demure compared to the more distinctive exterior.
Personally, I’d save the money and get the equivalent XC40 Recharge (I’d make do with the base single motor). But given the Aussie market loves a coupe SUV, the C40 Recharge Twin will no doubt find favour amongst buyers that want something a little different.
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