Shropshire Star

UK Drive: The C40 combines modern and traditional Volvo touches in one classy EV

The C40 is a sleeker take on Volvo’s existing XC40 electric, but what can it deliver aside from striking looks? Jack Evans finds out.

Volvo C40

What is it?

Volvo C40
Volvo has gone through a big transition period recently

It’s been a big period of transition for Volvo lately. It has already laid out plans for 50 per cent of its vehicle mix to be electric by 2025, moving to 100 per cent by 2030. Just recently, it produced its last diesel-powered XC90, marking the end of an era for the big – and popular – seven-seater.

To achieve these goals, however, it needs to increase the number of electric vehicles it sells and this car – the C40 – is one of the ways in which Volvo is bumping up its presence in the EV segment. But what is it like to drive and does it bring the usual Volvo standard of build quality inside? We’ve been finding out.

What’s new?

Volvo C40
The C40 offers a sleeker take on the XC40 design

The C40 is, essentially, a sleeker and more aerodynamic version of Volvo’s XC40 SUV. Unlike the XC40, however, the C40 can’t be purchased with a standard mild-hybrid petrol engine, with only electric setups being available in this strikingly styled model.

It’s worth noting that since our test, Volvo has renamed its smaller SUVs. The C40, therefore, will now be known as the EC40, while the XC40 will go under the moniker EX40 instead. It doesn’t change the powertrains underneath, however, but ties it closer to new models like the EX30 and EX90.

What’s under the bonnet?

Volvo C40
The tapered rear does mean visibility is restricted

Volvo offers a variety of motor setups with the C40, depending on what you want from your next EV. If outright range is what you’re after, then the single motor, extended range version will likely be your best choice as it brings up to 345.4 miles from a charge, while the same motor can be had with a smaller battery – and a lower cost – but will drop that range down to 299.5 miles.

We’re in the most powerful version, which uses a twin-motor setup with one mounted on each axle. As a result, it can go from 0-60mph in a sports car-scaring 4.5 seconds yet it’ll still return up to 339.9 miles combined, according to Volvo. Hook up to a DC rapid charger and a 10 to 80 per cent top-up could be conducted in as little as 28 minutes, too.

What’s it like to drive?

Volvo C40
Volvo C40 Recharge Twin Ultimate

The C40 offers a pleasingly relaxed driving experience when you want it. Smooth and refined, it’s only interrupted by larger potholes which do upset the experience but it’s all, largely, kept comfortable and quiet. Particularly at motorway speeds the C40 remains superbly hushed, while the lack of any engine noise only helps that.

It does feel heavy, mind you, particularly in sharper bends, but with such immense propulsion behind it, this added bulk doesn’t stop the C40 from feeling very fast in a straight line. Slower-speed work isn’t too tricky, either, though the C40’s slim rear glass and large pillars make rearward visibility quite poor.

How does it look?

Volvo C40
The C40 gets Volvo’s trademark ‘Thor’s Hammer’ headlights

As we’ve mentioned, the C40 is a somewhat sleeker take on the standard XC40 recipe. It’s a move we’ve seen used across the motoring industry, with cars like the X4 being a more streamlined version of BMW’s X3, while Audi’s Sportback range takes a coupe-inspired approach to the look of its more conventional SUVs.

It all works well with the C40, too, and gives it a touch more character than the standard XC40. The only drawback is that visibility; it’s far harder to look out rearwards than in the regular XC40 and this can make parking a little trickier than it needs to be, despite the variety of cameras fitted as standard.

What’s it like inside?

Volvo C40
The interior is solid and well made

Volvo’s usually excellent build quality is present and correct in the C40, with lots of solid materials used throughout. The overall fitment is great, too, and like the Swedish estate cars of old, the C40’s interior feels built to last. Volvo went leather-free in all of its electric cars in 2021 and, with its high-quality wool interior you don’t miss the lack of leather in here.

When it comes to practicality, the C40 is about right. There’s a 413-litre boot and though it’s square and easy to access, it is smaller than the 452-litre boot you’d get in the XC40. There is, however, a handy ‘frunk’ under the bonnet and this provides a great area to store the charging cables. It’s particularly handy when it’s been raining and the cables are wet, as it means you don’t have to put them in the boot with your belongings.

What’s the spec like?

Volvo C40
The ‘frunk’ is a handy place to store the cables

All versions of the C40 come pleasantly well-equipped. It’s certainly not a cheap car – the now-EC40-badged car starts from £50,487, but standard features include a fixed panoramic roof, an efficiency-boosting heat pump and a full Google-powered infotainment system which features built-in apps like Google Maps and Google Play Store – it’ll also update wireless over the air, too.

You can step up to Ultra grade – priced from £55,480 – and this will add an upgraded Harmon Kardon premium sound system, brighter Pixel LED headlights and a full 360-degree camera which definitely helps when parking.


The C40 feels like a well-balanced mixture of new and old-school Volvo touches. It’s got an intuitive interior with plenty of high-end touches and it’s all brought together with a sturdy level of build quality that you’d expect from this Swedish manufacturer.

This twin-motor version certainly brings some hair-raising performance and while this does make things exciting the first time that you step on the throttle, we’d be inclined to recommend the standard single-motor version as the additional range it brings will come in handier than the extra boost away from the lights.

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