Volvo C40 Recharge

When it comes to Volvo’s presence in the Indian market, the XC40 Recharge EV stands out –– ​​25% of all Volvos sold in India are now EVs, with the XC40 Recharge leading the charge. This translates to a quarter of Volvo’s sales in India during the first half of 2023, amounting to 1,089 units.

This is no accident; the XC40 Recharge has found a sweet spot in the market, comfortably positioned just below luxury EVs while outclassing mainstream competitors like Kia and Hyundai.

It offers a compelling blend of power and affordability, with a price tag of approximately Rs 58 lakh for a car that packs over 400 horsepower and a 0-100 time of 4.7 seconds.

Additionally, the XC40 Recharge boasts generous plastic cladding, reinforcing its SUV identity. The design of the C40 Recharge is essentially a restyled XC40 Recharge in an SUV-coupe form. 

Furthermore, the C40 Recharge marks Volvo’s second foray into the Indian EV market, aiming to boost the brand’s EV market share to 35% within the next year. This aligns with Volvo’s global vision of making EVs account for 50% of total sales by 2025 and transitioning to a fully electric lineup by 2030.

Volvo C40 Recharge Design

Redesigning an SUV into a coupe-style vehicle is not an easy task for the designers, but Volvo’s designers managed to strike a balance between lowering the roofline for a sleek look and maintaining the high SUV stance. 

The result is a vehicle that looks unmistakably like a Volvo, with updated Thor’s Hammer LED headlights, now equipped with new pixel technology for improved illumination, especially in adverse weather conditions.

There are subtle differences in its design, including a more sculpted bumper and reconfigured fog-light enclosures.

However, it’s the C40’s sloping roofline that distinguishes it from the XC40. This design features seamlessly into an integrated spoiler atop the rear hatch. Flanked by segmented tail lights that follow the car’s contours and extend horizontally into the tailgate. 

Interiors And Features

Inside the C40 Recharge, Volvo has made a bold move by adopting vegan-friendly materials, completely moving away from conventional leather. This strategic decision aligns with Volvo’s commitment to sustainability and ethical practices. 

The absence of leather doesn’t detract from the interior’s overall quality. In fact, the cabin exudes refinement, with a harmonious blend of textures and muted colours in true Scandinavian fashion.

Adding a touch of flair, the dashboard features topography-inspired inlays. While they may not be daytime showstoppers, they come to life when backlit, with a captivating three-dimensional contour map-like appearance at night.

However, compared to the cabins of more affordable EVs like the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6, the dashboard, characterized by Volvo’s signature 9-inch portrait-oriented screen flanked by tall, slender vertical vents, may appear somewhat dated. Similarly, the 12.3-inch instrument cluster, while boasting sharp graphics, doesn’t offer the same level of customization seen in other luxury EVs.

The Android-based infotainment system, while functional, falls short in terms of functionality and user-friendliness compared to more intuitive alternatives. Some may miss the presence of physical buttons for frequently used functions like air conditioning, a feature that becomes vital during scorching summers.

Additionally, the fixed panoramic sunroof, while brightening the cabin and creating an airy atmosphere, lacks a sunblind, potentially causing the interior to become excessively warm on sunny days.

Interestingly, the absence of a complex sliding sunroof mechanism benefits headroom. Nevertheless, headroom remains limited in the rear due to the swooping roofline, potentially causing discomfort for taller passengers. 

While legroom maintains a decent level of comfort, the back seat falls short in under-thigh support, and the backrest is noticeably upright. This combination might leave rear passengers craving a bit more comfort during longer journeys.

The trunk space, at 413 litres, is smaller than that of the SUV sibling, which offers 452 litres. Additionally, the space-saver spare tire, housed within the trunk, consumes valuable storage space. On the bright side, the 31-litre front trunk (frunk) retains its utility for holding cables or a small bag.

One characteristic common to all Volvos is the supreme comfort of the front seats. Interestingly, sinking into these seats activates the car – there’s no traditional start/stop button. Instead, selecting Drive is all it takes to get moving.

However, it’s worth noting that rearward visibility can be quite limited, which makes the absence of a rear wash-wipe feature a notable drawback. Thus, drivers must rely heavily on the side mirrors.

Battery, Range And Performance: Volvo C40 Recharge

Under the hood, the C40 Recharge shares the same versatile CMA platform as the XC40 Recharge, initially designed to accommodate traditional internal combustion engines but now adapted to house batteries.

Squeezing a sizeable 78kWh battery pack beneath the floor of a car originally engineered for internal combustion components presents challenges. Still, Volvo integrated this battery into the C40 Recharge. 

It shares the same battery size as the XC40 Recharge but features a new generation of cells with enhanced energy density, resulting in a remarkable improvement in range.

In fact, the C40 boasts a claimed range of 530 kilometres (WLTP), surpassing the XC40 Recharge by over 100 kilometres, despite both cars sharing identical battery sizes. This substantial boost in range owes itself not only to improved battery cell technology but also to the vehicle’s more aerodynamic shape, a critical factor in maximizing electric range.

The C40 Recharge employs the same twin-motor, four-wheel-drive powertrain found in its XC40 counterpart, a configuration highly appreciated by customers. As of now, there are no immediate plans to introduce a less powerful two-wheel-drive variant. However, if Volvo were to consider such a move, it would likely prioritize the XC40 Recharge.

Ride And Handling

Volvo, often associated with practicality and sensibility, has unleashed an unexpected performer in the form of the C40 Recharge. With a formidable 408 horsepower and a substantial 660Nm of torque, the driving experience is nothing short of thrilling.

Before indulging in this rush, a word of caution: passengers should brace themselves for the onslaught of instantaneous power and torque. The C40 Recharge accomplishes the sprint from a standstill to 100 kilometres per hour in a mere 4.7 seconds 

In an intriguing departure from Volvo’s typically reserved image, the C40 Recharge evokes a sense of excitement and challenges preconceived notions about the brand. While the top speed is limited to 180 kilometres per hour, it’s the acceleration on demand and the ability to overtake effortlessly that make the C40 an engaging drive.

One standout feature is the one-pedal regen braking system, which allows for efficient energy recouping and smooth deceleration. However, it introduces an element of annoyance, as it feels as though the brakes are applied every time you lift off the accelerator. 

Fortunately, you can deactivate regenerative braking through a setting on the screen and rely solely on the conventional brakes, which, while effective, lack a progressive feel. The steering exhibits a degree of inertia, and overall handling leans toward safety and predictability rather than sharpness or engagement.

On the road, the C40 Recharge maintains a commendable level of ride quality, adeptly handling bumps and uneven surfaces. The only minor quibble emerges over sharp edges, where it can feel slightly jittery. Nevertheless, the overall handling dynamics render it an easy and comfortable car to drive at its capable speeds.

Safety, a core pillar of Volvo’s ethos, receives thorough attention. The C40 Recharge is equipped with an array of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) designed to harness its power and performance effectively. In terms of crash safety, it doesn’t get better than the 5-star Euro NCAP rating it proudly earns.

One cannot help but appreciate ​​its unique allure, while it shares its foundation with the XC40 Recharge, it adds style and panache to the mix. Anticipated to bear a slightly higher price tag, estimates suggest it may cost 10-15% more than its SUV counterpart, translating to a ballpark figure of Rs 64 lakh-66 lakh.

While it may not boast the most spacious interior, particularly in the rear, and its onboard tech may not match the best in the segment, the C40 Recharge compensates with its exceptional speed, striking aesthetics, and impeccable build quality. For its price, this captivating and well-crafted SUV coupe emerges as one of the most desirable EVs available today.

In the broader context of India’s automotive landscape, the rise of the Volvo C40 Recharge represents a step forward into an exciting and sustainable future, combining style, performance, and environmental consciousness.

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