5 thoughts about the 2024 Volvo C40 Recharge

BIRMINGHAM, Mich. — The Volvo C40 Recharge is a quirky yet elegant little hatch with a lot to talk about. Along with the XC40, it’s the first rear-wheel-drive Volvo since the 1990s. The cabin blends Google power with Scandinavian simplicity. I think the C40 looks like an early crossover from the ‘80s. So yes, I have thoughts. Five of them.

The design reminds me of the AMC Eagle

Stay with me here. Am I the only one who thinks this looks like an AMC Eagle? It’s the big wheels — these diamond-cut silver and black rollers measure 20 inches — and the silhouette. A slightly lifted hatchback is a crossover these days, but it shares some of the quirkiness and car-like quality of the Eagle, which could be considered an early crossover.

Tenuous design connections aside, the slab front end, LED headlights and prominent Volvo emblem conjure the requisite premium feel. It does look the part of an EV, which is a natural vibe for Volvos in general. They exude quirky sophistication layered over Scandinavian minimalism and sensibility. Not your flavor of vodka? You may have heard the Dodge Charger is now an electric vehicle.

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I had an odd charging experience

With a few minutes to kill on a Saturday morning, I pulled into a ChargePoint station to try to grab some bonus miles. I didn’t have much time, but the ChargePoint chargers were literally across the street from where I was going. Might as well be plugged into one if I’m going to sit in the parking lot, drink coffee and read Autoblog on my phone.

Alas, the driver screen read “initializing charging” but never consummated the charge. I unplugged and re-plugged. No dice. ChargePoint charged me $2 for the pleasure of hooking up my car and not charging for five minutes.

Like I said, I was just killing time and didn’t absolutely need the juice, so away I went. I try to make a point of charging EVs on public infrastructure for each test car, and the results are uneven. This C40 had been recently charged, so I tend to think it was just a ‘bad handshake’ between the car and the charger, which seems to be common for EV owners. I suppose it could have been user error, too. In these situations there’s a tendency to assign blame. I’m not. I’m just saying it didn’t work.

It’s a fun little thing to drive

The single, rear-mounted motor delivers 248 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. I put my foot to the floor and felt the pull, which will get you to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds, three tenths of a second slower than a Toyota Prius Prime (which would have been a slight a couple years ago, now it’s merely contextual).  Along with the XC40 Recharge, the C40 is the first rear-wheel drive Volvo since the 1990s, and the trend toward rear-wheel versions of EVs like the Hyundai Ioniq 6 is one we fully support. Still, the electric-power-assisted steering is fairly numb, and the lifted stance doesn’t make for much of an enthusiast dynamic. If you want actual performance, you really need to go with the two-motor setup, which is all-wheel drive and delivers 402 hp and 494 lb-ft of torque, propelling you to 60 seconds in 4.6 seconds. 

The single motor model is cheaper (by $1,750) and offers more range (40 more miles). It’s your call: more range for a little less cash, or way more performance for a little more money. I wouldn’t make it a financial decision — it’s all about range vs. the need for AWD.

IMG 747122024 Volvo C40 Recharge rearview camera mirror glare from glass roof

The cabin is great, but you can’t see out the back

I tested an Ultimate model that includes heated seats and a heated steering wheel — which were exceptional on a chilly March weekend. It also adds a 360-degree camera, which along with the standard rear backup camera and rearview camera mirror are basically necessary. You can’t see out of this damn thing! The steeply raked roofline looks great, but the rear window is narrow and the rearmost pillars are huge. Even the cameras aren’t great: The backup one seems like it’s pointing downward, providing a limited view of what’s behind, while the camera mirror is susceptible to glare from the shadeless glass roof (pictured above right). You might want to consider the more upright XC40, which has superior visibility and more cargo space thanks to its conventional styling. I did manage to jam nearly $200 worth of groceries back there with no trouble (look for Riswick’s luggage test of the C40 next week). Ultimate also adds things like the Harman Kardon sound system and adaptive cruise control.

Float on with Cloud Blue

Multiple people remarked on this lightest shade of blue. As Volvo describes it: “A pure, light solid blue color with a whitish character, inspired by the cold air of snowy Swedish winter landscapes.” Sure, I’ll buy that. And if I were buying a C40, I’d buy one in this color. 

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