New Volvo C40 Recharge: what you need to know

Published: 02 August 2021

► Electric-only Volvo C40 SUV
► Coupe crossover claims 260 miles
► Production starts in autumn 2021

Volvo’s all-electric plan has already begun, and it’s been kicked off by the brand new C40 fastback. Based on the XC40 EV but with a sportier roofline, it also introduces two themes that’ll be common to every Volvo moving forward: its electric only, and it can be bought online. 

To find out more about the C40 and Volvo’s commitment to going fully electric by 2030, CAR spoke to Volvo MD, Kristian Elvefors and lead C40 Product Manager, Iain Howatt. 

The Volvo coupe returns!

But in a very 21st Century way. If it’s not an SUV, it won’t sell.

Volvo C40 side profile

How much tech is shared with the XC40?

‘Same powertrain, but everything from the lower glass line up is different,’ says Howatt. ‘So the windscreen is more steeply raised by the glazing is all different the roof is different, and obviously the rear tailgate is shallower, so it’s got significant body differences as well.’

There’s a 78kWh battery, twin e-motors (one on each axle) for 402bhp, all-wheel drive and a claimed range of 260 miles. The XC40 Recharge now also has the same claimed range figure, after Volvo rolled out the first over-the-air update – refreshing the car’s battery management software – with promises of more updates to come. Volvo says the C40 can be charged up to 80% in 40 minutes.

C40 front tracking

Android Automotive OS: does it work?

While the footprint and face of the C40 are very much the same as the XC40 Recharge, the roofline and rear get significant visual changes. Redesigned LED light signatures stretch up the C-pillars, with the rear window blending into the black roof. The roofline is around 50mm lower than that of the XC40.

Inside, it’ll be just like an XC40 – ie very well made, with a massive central portrait screen – and features the Android-based operating system that debuted on the Polestar 2. Each car comes with unlimited cellular data, too, to host those over-the-air updates.

What about the Polestar 2

The C40 may occupy a similar space to the Polestar 2, but it’s adamant it’s a very different car – and both companies will continue to do things differently. 

‘We are going the same way as we have always; going into sustainability, safety, family and to be the most sustainable and safe brand,’ said Elvefors. ‘I think that that is not what Polestar are doing. They are taking some of those aspects as well but they are, as you say, they are more present here and where your smaller audience than ours. They are more performance driven than we are.’

How do I buy one?

In a push to make its online buying system front and centre, you can technically only buy a C40 online. There’ll still be demos at dealers for you to get a tangible taste of the new model before you say ‘yes’ to it, if you like, but the car’s transaction will still be dealt with online. Don’t expect tonnes of trim levels – Volvo is aiming to slim down its spec options for buyers.

What is Care by Volvo?

You can also buy one as part of the brand’s Care by Volvo subscription service, which includes servicing, warranty, roadside assistance, insurance and home charging options.

When can I buy one?

Volvo says the C40 will go into production in the autumn of 2021, and you can order one now. CAR understands that the first product was sold online within just two minutes of the virtual order books opening. 

‘The price point is going to be relatively similar, you know’ said Howatt. ‘So, you know, in an ideal world, you could see 50/50 [buying the XC40 vs the C40]. You know the XC40 is perhaps a bit more traditional, a bit more SUV a bit more family orientated. The fastback is probably not for family so someone younger or a similarly older audience.’

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By Jake Groves

CAR's deputy news editor, office Geordie, gamer, lover of hot hatches