Pursuitist drove the new Volvo C40 Recharge last year in Brussels and Ghent Belgium (see story under Autos). We also had the recent opportunity to drive Volvo’s latest Battery Electric Vehicles, the 2024 Volvo C40 and XC40 Recharge models in beautiful Gothenburg, Sweden — Volvo’s latest manifestation of its commitment to a zero emissions future. By 2025, Volvo’s goal is for 50% of its global sales volume to consist of fully electric cars and 50% hybrids. By 2030, it plans for every car it sells to be pure electric.
The stunning roads around Gothenburg, Sweden served as the backdrop of our drive of the new Rear Wheel Drive (RWD) Volvos. As a Volvo owner for over 30 years, I respect and fully understand the attraction of the marque; as do Swedes, who see the brand as a badge of national pride. Volvo is the only brand with Swedish heritage, as the Saab brand went out of business in 2011.
As expected, when driving across Sweden, you’ll see Volvo’s everywhere! Swedes have the advantage of being able to buy many different Volvo models, including several station wagon variants, that are not available in the U.S. market.
Why the Return to Rear-Wheel Drive?
The last RWD Volvo sold in the U.S. was the 1998 Volvo S90/V90. Volvo’s switch to Front-Wheel Drive (FWD) and All-Wheel Drive (AWD) heralded a new pathway for the brand, which touted the enhanced foul weather appeal of those two, new platforms.
During the press conference for the two new RWD models, Volvo execs touted the handling prowess of the RWD platform as being better than the FWD C40 and XC40 for the following reasons:
- Balance – The large central battery and lighter-weight motors create a well-balanced weight distribution and lower center of gravity
- Power – The high torque of electric motors can make steering under acceleration more difficult when only the front wheels are powered
- Feel – Rear-wheel propulsion provides a more dynamic and agile driving experience, with sharper steering and improved traction
- Control – Advances in electronic stability control systems and improved weight distribution support safety, stability, and a refined drive.
Volvo C40/XC40 Exterior
The C40 Recharge has all the benefits of an SUV but with a lower and sleeker design. It is based on the CMA vehicle platform and the first Volvo model in history designed as pure electric only.
The overall look works, as the long hood and sloping roofline that flows into a high, shorter rear section make the C40 look aggressive, with a plus to the handsome 20-inch alloy wheels that don’t scream “This is an electric car” for accentuating the overall sport-ute like height of the vehicle. A pair of roof-mounted winglets and rear spoiler add to the aggressive look.
The XC40 Recharge carries the SUV theme of the gas-powered XC40, the baby brother of the XC90. Styling is clean and purposeful.
The XC40 is a bit taller than the C40 (65.0” vs. 62.6”), but shares the same 174.8” overall length. The rounded roofline of the C40 offers a smidgen more front headroom than the XC40 (40.9” vs. 40.6”), but significantly less rear-seat headroom due to the sloping roofline (36.7” vs. the XC40’s 39.1”).
Volvo C40/XC40 Interior
Inside, both the C40 and XC40 Recharge models provide customers with the high seating position that most Volvo drivers prefer. It is also the first Volvo model to be completely leather-free. All interiors are black, although you can get color-coordinated door cards.
Overhead, a full glass panoramic roof gives the interior an open, airy feel.
The infotainment system was jointly developed with Google and is based on the Android operating system. It provides consumers with Google apps and services built-in, such as Google Maps, Google Assistant and the Google Play Store. Apple Car Play will be available in the near future. The 12.3-inch driver display and 9-inch center touchscreen provide all pertinent information, and the center screen is voice and touch enabled. Over-the-air software updates can be scheduled or set to download automatically.
As mentioned, the interior of both is welcoming for big and tall folks, at least up front. The sloping roof in the C40 relegates shorter folks to the rear row of this five-seater. The XC40 has very good rear seat headroom.
The C40 Recharge offers decent cargo capacity (rear hatch with seats folded and front “frunk”), and a maximum towing capacity of 2000 pounds. The XC40 has more cargo capacity, 57.5 cubic feet versus 49 for the C40.
Volvo C40/XC40 RWD Powertrain and Drive Experience
The new Single Motor Extended Range C40 Recharge and XC40 Recharge feature a powerful 185 kW (248 hp) permanent magnet e-motor on the rear axle and an 82kWh battery pack. This combination of a more energy-dense battery and efficient motor allows the C40 Recharge and XC40 Recharge to achieve up to 297 and 293 miles of range, respectively.
Charging power has improved as the uprated 82 kWh battery pack allows for charging at a top rate of 200 kW DC. Charging the car from 10-80 percent state-of-charge takes approximately 28 minutes.
Even with the single motor, both models offer very satisfying performance. Electric vehicles offer silent thrust that’s infinitely addictive.
Driving across scenic Sweden was amazing. Two great cars in one of the most scenically beautiful places I’ve ever visited. On the highways and byways, great acceleration and a well-balanced chassis made the drive super enjoyable.
All-Wheel Drive Variants are Updated
In addition to driving the RWD variants, we also drove updated AWD variants of the C40/XC40 Recharge that also benefit from updates that provide the pair with additional range. The previous set-up of two 150 kW electric motors on both front and rear axles has been replaced by our in-house developed 255 hp electric motor on the rear axle and a new 147 hp asynchronous electric motor on the front axle. As the asynchronous motor does not require a constant electrical charge, the Twin Motor conserves energy by engaging the front-axle drive only when it’s needed – contributing to the improvements in range.
The Twin Motor variants of the C40 Recharge and XC40 Recharge retain the 78kWh battery pack with a top charging rate of 150 kW DC. This means the XC40 Recharge Twin Motor AWD can now drive up to 254 miles, a 21-mile boost over the previous iteration. The range of the C40 Recharge Twin Motor has improved up to 257 miles from 226 miles (combined EPA cycle).
Exterior updates also help contribute to efficiency gains. For example, a new 19-inch alloy wheel for both C40 and XC40 Recharge not only boosts the overall look of the models, but it also helps to reduce drag through its aerodynamic design.
|Model||Drive||Range (EPA estimated)|
|C40 Recharge Single Motor||RWD||297 miles|
|C40 Recharge Twin Motor||AWD||257 miles|
|XC40 Recharge Single Motor||RWD||293 miles|
|XC40 Recharge Twin Motor||AWD||254 miles|
Volvo C40 Warranty/Service Information
Volvo’s “Convenient Care” standard consumer package includes Wear Coverage (4 years/40,000 miles), Factory Scheduled Maintenance (also 4/40,000), Bumper-to-Bumper New Car Warranty (4/50,000), and High Voltage Drive Battery coverage (8/100,000). The C40/XC40 Care Offer also comes with 250 kW of DC fast charging with Electrify America, an EV charging company; and Electrify America’s Pass + for one year, which gives you a kWh rate discount on fast charging.
More EV Models to the Launch Soon
Volvo is on a full-speed march towards electrification of additional models, including the super luxe EX90 and the EX30, a small, fully electric SUV for the modern era, designed to be safe and have a smaller CO2 footprint than any Volvo car ever built.
It will also be super “green,” with advanced sustainable materials used in the interior, for example. Recycled and renewable materials for seats, dashboard and doors will be used, including materials such as denim, flax, and a wool blend that also contains around 70 percent recycled polyester.
Significantly, at the end of the EX30’s lifespan, the vehicle is designed to be recovered up to 95 percent by recycling the materials and recovering energy from what can’t be recovered.
All of these advancements tie to Volvo’s plan to deliver on being a climate-neutral company by 2040, through a 40% cut of overall CO2 emissions per car from 2018 levels.
While in Sweden, we had the opportunity to visit Volvo’s Wind Tunnel Test Facility. There, we saw fine aerodynamic tuning on the EX90. What a great experience!
Pursuitist automotive and lifestyle contributor Brian Armstead has been involved in print, radio, web and television for over 47 years. Brian has traveled to 79 countries. He is a North American Car, Truck and Utility of the Year (NACTOY) Juror.