There was a time when square and boxy styling defined many SUV and other utility offerings. Volvo was once considered a prominent player in this cube-themed world, thanks mainly to its lineup of estates. But as tastes have changed, the brutish slab-sided entries of yesteryear are rapidly being replaced by curvy rounded offerings aiming to achieve maximum fuel economy. Volvo is aware of the times and has been working on adding some curves to its lineup. That includes the 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge but does this EV have what it takes to be a good gateway into Volvo’s electrified future?
Style At The Cost Of Usability
At first glance, it would seem that the C40 Recharge has the look to make it stand out in urban commuting. Our blue-hued tester rides on the same platform as the XC40, and as a result, the exterior transformation successfully rides the line between familiarity and futurism. The front fascia has a traditional look to it, with the grille panel and the reworked front bumper being the lead giveaways that something unique is lurking under the skin. The side profile accents the sloping roofline and leads out to the rear, where bold taillights and a small liftgate-mounted spoiler greet owners.
However, while it makes an initial good first impression, things sour very quickly when you look at the figurative fine print. Thanks to the roofline, rear headroom and cargo space are all less than a more traditional utility, and the rear glass is sharply angled enough to impede rear visibility, especially when you consider that the rear spoiler is also in play here too. The best views for passing are in the side mirrors, but we wish that Volvo would put in a rear camera mirror to better address this complaint. The biggest cardinal sin here is the charging cord. While the C40’s rear-mounted charging port would normally not be a big issue, the cord itself is too short. That shortened length meant that our tester had a hard time charging on both of our standard electrical outlets and required elaborate parking to help it get recharged.
Volvo claims that it expects the bulk of C40 customers to have charging stations pre-installed in their homes, but for new owners or buyers that live in older housing where the installation process would be a more involved endeavor, this quirk might be a potential deal breaker for some consumers.
Stylish Interior Mixes Simplicity With Luxury
Slip inside the C40 Recharge, and the cabin immediately hits the mark when it comes to being a premium space to spend time in. While it does not go overboard with the details, we like some of the ones that do their part to make things feel more special. The lighted strips on the dashboard and the door panels may look odd, but if you’re a geography buff, you’ll discover that they are actually a topographical map of Sweden’s Abisko National Park. The nice touch is unfortunately contrasted by just how somber of a place the interior is, with all U.S. models getting a black-only color scheme (European models have more variety with the upholstery), and that’s a shame since we could see the topographical maps complementing lighter upholstery colors. There’s also no start/stop button in the C40; buyers have to just put it in park and walk away. We’ll admit that it took us a considerable amount of time to get used to that particular feature.
The upholstery itself is not made from animal hide but is instead made from two different synthetic materials, including MicroTech, with the Fjord Blue carpeting being made out of recycled plastic. Volvo is planning to update the C40 with Over The Air (OTA) updates which will help the C40 gain more features. In the meantime, our tester felt like an incomplete drawing with the simplicity and ease of use for the controls doing little to hide the fact that it’s missing some of the extra gimmicks and features that we take for granted in digital displays. A few of the buttons on the steering wheel are also non functional for the same reason. The infotainment system also suffers from some of these teething problems, and there were times when we wished we had some form of a menu or the ability to see what songs were playing on the radio without traveling through multiple menus.
This stunted experience on the technology end is a shame since the seats in our tester were very comfortable, and we liked the amounts of front seat leg and knee room for occupants. Here’s hoping that the OTA updates Volvo promised will help add some balance to the package and allow the C40 Recharge to embrace its full luxury heritage.
Sleek C40 Recharge Performance Credentials Blunted By Practicality
Performance for our tester comes from the same dual electric motor setup that also powers the XC40 with the duet of electrified motors producing 402 hp and 486 lb-ft of torque. These figures are enough to deliver impressive acceleration, with our tester making the sprint to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds. That’s the same as the XC40 Recharge, and the suspension in our example did a commendable job of keeping the CUV planted when going through sharp corners.
a #followup to our #firstvideo about the #volvo #volvoxc40rechargepureelectric charging cable woes, this is our #primary spot to charge and this cable is still #tooshort wish it was #longer #fyp @volvocarusa #volvoc40recharge #electriccar #electriccars♬ original sound – Carl Malek
With all of this performance and 226 miles of range per charge on hand, you might be wondering where things started to go wrong; as it turns out, it all centered on the charging cord. While the charging cord would normally be a minor detail on any EV, in the case of the C40 Recharge, it proved to be the most frustrating aspect of our time with it due to the length of the cord. Unlike the XC40 Recharge, the C40’s cord is noticeably shorter, with Volvo claiming in the past that the bulk of C40 buyers will have charging stations pre-installed in their homes. Our office is in an older home with no such installation due to cost, and the C40’s cable woes forced us to park it in very intricate ways to reach our standard 110-volt outlet in the garage. These intricate feats of vehicle ballet get old very quickly and repeatedly served to put a damper on our experience with the C40 Recharge.
Look past the cord, and while the C40’s straight line manners deserved plenty of praise, its handling manners reinforced the fact that this is not a Polestar offering, and our tester exhibited noticeable amounts of body roll when pushed hard. All that goes away, though, when it’s driven in daily commuting with city driving, revealing that the C40 Recharge has a spunky personality as long as you don’t push the tires beyond their comfort zone. The suspension also hates Michigan’s crumbling roads, but the one-pedal driving mode proved to be a welcome aide in packed urban settings, especially with how much regen you can get when placed in its most aggressive setting.
Pricing for the 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge starts at $55,300, with the model featuring three trim levels Core, Plus, and Ultimate, with prices going up accordingly depending on each trim level. Our tester appeared in Ultimate guise, and the $4,800 premium (along with other options) helped raise the price to a final total of $61,890. That’s pricier than the XC40, and the base model is also slightly higher in that regard than the equivalent XC40.
This pricing also shines a spotlight on some of the quirks that come baked into the C40 Recharge and is higher than some of its rivals. The range here also doesn’t quite cut the mustard in terms of price, with models like the Chevrolet Bolt, Hyundai Kona EV, and others all having range that surpasses the 226 miles of range offered by the Volvo. The C40 counters by having sleek styling that appeals to younger buyers but having a nicer suit of clothes alone is not enough to be a complete package.
As it stands now, the 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge is too incomplete of a package to consider over established EV rivals formally. It has potential in spades, but the incomplete state of some of its features, as well as some of the unnecessary ergonomic quirks that it has to deal with, are simply too much to ignore and make it fall noticeably behind other EV benchmarks.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.