The industry shift to electric vehicles is not upon us. We’ve been hearing about it for over a decade and we’ve seen a few hiccups over the past few years. But now it’s happening, with the all-new 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge, a preview of what nearly every mainstream automaker will release over the next 12 months. The C40 Recharge uses the same powertrain as Volvo’s XC40, so it’s not an all-new vehicle. But this is Volvo’s first car designed as an electric vehicle from very early computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) briefs.
This intention is clearly reflected in the shape of the C40, which offers a lower roof and a much more aggressive roof slope leading to a smaller rear window. This is great for aerodynamics, but it compromises rear visibility. The C40’s unique exterior cues continue with standard 20-inch wheels, black roof pillars leading to a fixed glass roof panel, a strong grille with large “Volvo” badging and slim LED taillights that wind around the tailgate and the roof pillar.
Beneath the C40’s wide body panels is Volvo’s Compact Modular Architecture (CMA). This is the same platform used for the XC40, and it will no doubt serve as the basis for future models. For the C40, it features a new front structure to compensate for the removal of the XC40’s engine, as well as a reinforced protective shell around the battery (under the cabin) to protect it and the occupants when driving. ‘impact.
The battery, a 78 kWh unit, sends power to two motors, giving the C40 all-wheel drive, 402 peak horsepower and 486 lb-ft of torque. Instant torque from these motors propels the C40 from 0 to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds, although operating the vehicle in this manner will undoubtedly reduce its EPA-certified range of 226 miles. We only pressed the gas once, on an on-ramp highway, and can confirm that the C40 is plenty fast. It also offers one-pedal driving, if you want to claw back as much of that forward energy momentum as you slow down (you can turn it off if you prefer to slow down the traditional way using the brake pedal).
The driving characteristics of the Volvo C40 correspond to what we expect from a pure electric vehicle. Beyond the instant, neck-straining torque, the little crossover offers precise (if a little uncommunicative) steering, capable (if a little disconnected) braking feel, and confident (if a little heavy) driving dynamics. . It’s not meant to look like a sports car, but between its quick acceleration and its planted feel in the corners (the low-mounted battery keeps it from feeling “tippy” at all), the C40 could be described as sporty .
The experience of sitting in and interacting with the C40 was even more compelling than its styling or driving dynamics. Volvo has fully integrated the Google/Android operating system not only into the C40, but across its entire model range. This means you can sign in to your Google account and easily access everything from Google Assistant and email to Google Maps to Google Play. These features all work just as well in the C40 as they do on your phone or computer, including the best voice recognition you’ll find inside a car. Say “Hey Google” and type in an address, create a Spotify playlist, or just ask it a question.
For example, “Hey Google, I’m hungry for Chinese food” will display a map with a list of local restaurants. The promise of voice control has been around for over a decade and has never failed to disappoint. But with this system, it finally works in a way that makes controlling the vehicle better, not worse, than using your hands while risking distracting the driver. If you’re using your hands, the 9-inch central touchscreen and 12.3-inch digital driver display offer clear and intuitive control interfaces, with easily the best Google Maps integration we’ve ever seen in a gauge cluster.
There’s also a standard 600-watt 13-speaker Harmon Kardon sound system, wireless smartphone charging and full Apple CarPlay integration coming soon via the C40’s over-the-air (OTA) update system. Ironically, Android Auto isn’t offered in the C40, and while Google Play means access to iHeart Radio, Spotify, and a host of additional apps, Google Voice can’t control Sirius XM radio (which is also standard on the C40). But Google Maps offers comprehensive information on EV charging options and can incorporate scheduled stops based on battery status, including real-time updates on whether there’s an open charging port. at a given stop. The C40 can use DC fast chargers to bring the battery from 0% to 80% in 40 minutes.
The 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge has a starting price of $59,445, and because everything is standard, there’s really only one option for buyers – color (and we really liked the “Fjord Blue”) of our test car, inspired by the water inlets on the Scandinavian west coast). This price includes a full suite of driver assistance technologies (intelligent cruise control, lane keeping assist, etc.), wireless phone charging, unlimited data transfer, a leather-free interior and some of the most comfortable seats we have experienced. Of course, the C40 qualifies for the $7,500 federal electric vehicle tax credit and likely any state credits where you live (say, an additional $2,500 in California).
A net price of around $50,000 strikes us as a safe bet, given the Volvo C40 Recharge’s breath of performance, safety, luxury and cutting-edge technology. But that’s still more than a comparable internal combustion vehicle would cost, which is the next hurdle electric vehicles have to clear before they can truly go mainstream.