2023 Volvo C40 Recharge Twin AWD review by Ben Lewis

We recently tested the Volvo S60 Recharge plug-in Hybrid and came away massively impressed. With Volvo mentioning that all vehicles sold for 2023 on will be hybrid or full-on electric, we wondered if the fun was going to get lost in the process. Well, it certainly didn’t on the S60.

So now, we were really excited to test the all-electric C40 Recharge. We’re pretty hopeful about the fun, but we also wondered in the world of EVs, does the C40 keep that special Volvo-ness that we’ve come to love? Let’s find out!

Swedish Smurf

The first thing you notice about our C40 tester was the Fjord Blue color. It’s a rich pastel blue that looks a little smurf-like on the chunky, happy design – but we got loads of compliments on this color, and we love how it stands out.

Up front you’ll find a familiar Volvo badge, with a grill-less nose and signature “Thor’s Hammer” headlights, while a lower grille and cut-outs for the fog lamps give off a sporty vibe.

The C40 shares much of everything with the XC40 – except where the XC has more of a squared-off rear end to give true crossover capability, you’ll notice the swept rear hatchback on the C40 that gives it a sportier drive. You’ll find the same kind of look on BMW, Mercedes and Audi crossovers, so the C40 is in good company.

That swept C-pillar does give a more aggressive look, while cut-outs in the lower door panels add a muscular touch. The best part of the profile has to be the massive 20-inch, 5-spoke alloy wheels that really pop and fill out the wheel wells. Add in the tall stance and this is one EV that’s hard to miss – even in a crowd of EVs!

More fun comes at the rear, with slim LED taillights, a sporty rear spoiler and a pushed-in rear hatch design. And we love the way V O L V O is spelled out in big block letters. This is a sporty, fun package that gathers plenty of attention.

No Leather but lots of Lux

Inside, the C40 will feel familiar to anyone who’s been in a Volvo lately – and that’s a good thing as the brand has always had an upscale but Swedish-sensible vibe. Volvo says this is their first vehicle that has no leather of any kind, and frankly we didn’t miss moo-cow hides at all.

Open the door and you’re greeted by front sport seats in a rich charcoal cloth with tasteful contrasting white piping. Volvo seats are some of the best – think high-end Swedish furniture – and the front buckets are ultra-supportive and outstandingly comfortable, even for hours behind the wheel.

The rear seats are adult friendly too, with only the cargo area seeming to lose some space compared to the XC40 model. We found that the cargo area was still plenty roomy but noticed the somewhat higher floor because of the batteries the EV needs to carry. Helping to make up for that, there’s a “frunk” front trunk that has added storage, and also makes a nice home for the 110/220V power adapter.

The driver gets the full digital treatment with a 12-inch digital gauge display, which features two display modes: Calm and Navi. Info-tainment is handled by a handsome 9-inch tablet style display, and like our previous S60, now features full Google apps and services. It’s a huge step upward over the Volvo’s previous system which was notably slow and clunky.

With the full Google Suite you have Google Assistant, Google Maps and Google Play store all at your fingertips. On the lower part of the screen, you have handy shortcuts for seat and steering heating and the around-view parking camera. It’s all intuitive and easy to use.

Not so intuitive is the lack of Start/Stop button. To drive away, you unlock the door, get in, and then put it in Reverse or Drive, and off you go. Locking up means pressing the Park button and getting out. Once you lock the door the C40 shuts down. This old dog of a tester has too many years with ignition keys and pushbutton starts to feel completely comfortable with this, but you can learn new tricks….

The rest is Volvo sensible, with a nice stubby shift lever, handy climate controls, a dedicated volume knob (YAY!), and lots of convenient cubbies and places to store stuff. And the quality of materials looks beautiful and hard-wearing at the same time. One of our favorite things: backlit trim panels on the dashboard and doors that look like topography maps when illuminated. Very cool!  

Super Swede

Driving is a big surprise.

Let’s start with the traditional questions – range and charging. On our 2023 model, range is a good-but-not-stellar 226 miles. If you opt for the 2024 model, that range has been bumped to a more competitive 254 miles. If range is a big issue, the less powerful single engine 2024 C40 has an impressive 297-mile range.

Charging is quick – with 200 kW DC fast chargers, you can go from 10-80% in under 30 minutes. Although it’s certainly slower, we found the 110-volt adapter handy to keep the battery topped off charging overnight.

So even though models like our Recharge Twin have a bit less range, they’re the model we’d go for. Why? 402 horsepower and 486 lb.-ft of torque! Since we are in the “4s” well also mention 0-60 in low 4 seconds range – that is very, very quick – you can motor away from a large variety of sports cars, sport sedans and SUVs with ease. In a smurf…

Sitting tall, the C40 has a nice ride – softer than the S60 we tested recently, but still well tied to together to feel confident and sporty. The small dimensions of the C40 make it fun to zip around and the steering has good feel. It’s cheerful and bright and you always look forward to your next drive.

Looking backward however – ugh – that hatchback design really hurts the rear view. Good thing you have nicely sized mirrors on either side, and a handy 360-degree view when parking.

Affordable Fun?

Well, this is a premium EV, so affordable is a relative term. For the 2023 model year, the Recharge Twin is the exclusive model (the single motor comes in as a 2024, pricing is TBD.) and starts at $55,300. For a cute, friendly comfortable EV with awesome power, that’s a great deal.

Our tester was the delightfully equipped Ultimate trim and started at $60,100. With just about everything you can think of as standard, the only options were metallic paint ($695) Pixel LED headlights ($350) and $1,095 for Destination. All told, we rang the bell for $62,240.

Interestingly that puts it at nearly the same price as the Kia EV6 GT, at $62,865. They’re both rocket ships, although the 576 hp Kia is faster. Really though, they are two different ends of the spectrum – Volvo is a long and storied brand, and Kia is a bit of an upstart. The Kia yells “look at me!” and the Volvo is happy to be the hard-working solid citizen. Which is you?

Those with a little more to spend could look at the Audi E-tron, starting at $65,900, it serves up a great blend of Audi-goodness and EV smarts – but our loaded tester was well over $80K, making our little Volvo look like a bargain.

Fun looks, outstanding comfort and surprising super-Swede performance, the 2023 Volvo C40 Recharge is an EV bursting with personality – and we love it!