Welcome to the 2023 Volvo C40. This is Volvo’s fully electric coupe SUV alternative to its XC40 small SUV, bringing across all of the company’s usual suave and refined design qualities, wrapped up in a sportier package.
Here we’re testing the twin motor version called, fittingly, the Twin, with an electric motor at each axle to create all-wheel drive. It is built in China and it is underpinned by the same CMA (Compact Modular Architecture) platform that supports the XC40 and Polestar 2.
Volvo recently announced an MY2024 update for the XC40 and C40, with the base model switching to a rear-motor (RWD) setup, while the Twin AWD receives new motors but with the same combined output of 300kW and 660Nm as seen with this MY23 version. The MY24 arrives in Q3 this year.
Prices start from $75,990 for the current FWD single-motor model, and from $83,490 for the Twin (excluding on-road costs). These are pretty reasonable prices for an electric vehicle, let alone from a premium brand.
2023 Volvo C40 Recharge Twin – THE SPECS
Output: 300kW / 660Nm
Transmission: Single-speed auto
Drive type: All-wheel drive
Wheels: F: 20×8.0, 235/45 R: 20×8.0, 255/40
ANCAP: Five stars
Tare weight: 2158kg
Power-to-weight: 7.19:1 (kg:kW)
Official range: 450km
Recharge capacity: DC up to 150kW, AC 11kW
Recharge time 10-80%: DC 150kW 40min
0-60km/h: 2.58 seconds*
0-100km/h: 4.71 seconds*
60-110km/h: 2.84 seconds*
1/4 mile: 13.03 seconds at 177.5km/h*
Top speed: 183.1km/h*
Max acceleration: 0.796g*
100-0km/h braking: 3.25 seconds at 40.35 metres*
Max deceleration: -1.299g*
Decibel at idle: 22*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 70*
Priced from: $83,490
* Figures as tested by PerformanceDrive on the day. Factory claims may be different
2023 Volvo C40 Recharge Twin – THE PACKAGE
One thing you notice when you first see the C40 in person is just how big it is. It’s definitely at the larger end of the small SUV class. Especially for width. In fact, it’s almost two metres wide, at 1910mm. But this is good as it means it is a lot more spacious and practical than you might expect for this class.
As standard you get a set of 20-inch alloy wheels wrapped in staggered-width tyres, with 235/45s on the front and 255/40s on the back. Elsewhere with the styling you’ve got a typical (for aerodynamic reasons) closed-off front grille, but we think Volvo has executed this trend quite nicely, while the rear end carries a high degree of sophistication and class, with its thin and lengthy taillight strips and integrated rear spoiler.
Volvo interiors have always been a favourite of ours. And the C40 does not disappoint. It’s very clean and tidy, and there’s a strong whiff of luxury in the air. Refinement is also exceptional, with absolutely no creaks or rattles from any of the fixtures. Most surfaces are coated in some kind of soft or softish material, with fabric lining extending further along the pillars than in some rivals.
Up on the dash is a user-friendly 9.0-inch portrait-oriented touch-screen complete with full Google Services so you can just say, ‘hey Google’ to prompt things such as the air-conditioning, radio station, or the in-built Google Maps sat-nav with live traffic information. You can also use the ‘hey Google’ command to ask random questions. My 5-year-old son seemed to enjoy asking Google if it farted. And, admittedly, I found it hilarious that it responded by letting off a ripping fart through the speakers. But you can use it to ask a variety of more useful questions, like where the nearest charger is located.
Seating space is excellent for this class and there’s a great balance between high-riding visibility and a nice tucked-in feel. Even the rear seat area is spacious and open, for this segment, with climate vents and cup holders at the ready. About the only gripe we have with this test car’s interior is the full glass roof, which doesn’t feature a retractable sun blind as standard. Without it, the cabin gets quite hot which means you need to power blast the air-con when you get back in. You can pre-set the air-con as well.
Boot space is measured at 489 litres, or 413L using the common up-to-the-top-of-the-seat VDA system. Again, this is big for a small SUV. Folding down the rear seats exposes 1205L. There’s also some under-floor storage for smaller items, and then under the bonnet you have another storage tub just big enough for the charging cables.
2023 Volvo C40 Recharge Twin – THE DRIVE
Out on the road the instant response from the powertrain is incredible. And the performance figures reflect that, with our usual tests recording 0-100km/h in 4.71 seconds, and the quarter-mile in 13.03 seconds at 177.5km/h. The top speed is limited to 180km/h and our Vbox showed a Vmax score of 183.1km/h.
It feels super-punchy when you want it to be, but switch to a regular driving style and it becomes more of a smooth country tourer. And an effortless one at that, because the more you lean on the throttle, the more it moves. And yes, we understand this is how all motorcars work, but in this (and most EVs) the amount of pedal movement is precisely matched with speed and acceleration, immediately.
This means it is a lot of fun driving along a spirited road. It’s fun to hold your foot at precise segments of throttle to swing around and out of corners in a very controlled and consistent manner. You can also activate a one-pedal-like driving mode which provides almost enough regenerative braking power that you don’t ever need to touch the brake pedal, especially on a nice winding road.
In town the C40 is pure relaxation due to the in-cabin serenity and smoothness. It is so peaceful to drive, often leaving you feeling more comfortable and relaxed compared with when you first got in. The ride setting is absorbent and forgiving, if a little bouncy on some surfaces. However, this is likely a trade-off between sharp and agile handling and soft comfort, particularly when carting around a 2158kg mass like this.
The on-board range calculator is dependable, and if you encounter some long downhill sections during your journey you’ll notice the range does climb back up slightly. That’s the regen’ braking charging the batteries. Officially this model is rated at 450km (WLTP). We managed to achieve an easy 350km during a trip between Sydney and Newcastle (mostly freeway), which is not the ideal environment for an EV. It’s worth noting if you order one now you’ll likely get the MY24 update which sees the range jump to an impressive 507km for the Twin motor version.
As usual, it’s the Australian infrastructure that lets down the overall ownership experience in our opinion. Because if you’re always out and about and run a busy lifestyle, like most of us these days, then you need to rely on the public charging stations.
But these are not reliable and you often have to wait quite some time while others are using one, and, for some silly reason, most of our stations still only include one or maybe two charging plugs. Meanwhile carparks in Europe often have eight or more chargers in one spot. Our chargers always seem to break down as well, which definitely doesn’t help during frantic days.
2023 Volvo C40 Recharge Twin – THE VIDEO
2023 Volvo C40 Recharge Twin – THE VERDICT
At first it is hard to understand why anyone would go for the C40 over the more practical XC40 EV twin, as it offers more boot space and everything else is pretty much the same. However, the uniqueness of the coupe body does give it an attractive and exclusive look.
For us though the best part about this SUV is the interior. It manages to blend practicality, really refined luxury, and class-rivalling build quality all into one neat package. And all for a reasonably affordable price for a premium electric SUV.
– Suave and calming interior design, with user-friendly Google interface
– Interior build quality and material use
– Very quick in twin-motor configuration
– Surprisingly capable when pushed hard in the corners
– Glass roof needs retractable blind
– Australian charging infrastructure is still lacking
As always, if you’re thinking about buying a new car don’t forget to click here to speak with our car buying specialists.