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2023 Volvo C40 Review

Volvo's newest electric crossover should have just been named C4, because it's explosive.

Any brand can make an electric car. Take a popular model, remove the gas guzzling, add a battery and electric motor (or two) and voila!

In an over-simplified way, that is what Volvo did with the XC40 Recharge.

And it works.

2023 Volvo C40

I'm a fan of the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric. It's well appointed, with a solid range and is blisteringly fast.

But this Volvo C40 is different. It has a reduced footprint overall, with the Swedes not just using sustainable materials, but ensuring the vehicle is made ethically, too.

They've even gone as far as tracing suppliers of the cobalt used in the batteries via the blockchain in order to ensure that it's extracted from the ground ethically.

So as Volvo's first electric-only nameplate, this C40 then is a step forward for the brand which has ambitious targets of being a sustainable brand and completely electric by 2030.

What's on offer with the release of the C40?

It comes in 2 variants. We drove the dual-motor variant, which costs $82,490 before on-road costs. There is also a single-motor variant which is priced at $74,990 before on-roads – $2,000 cheaper than the Electric XC40.

2023 volvo C40 single-motor

Where does it sit in terms of price? Well, the single motor is $2,690 more expensive than the Tesla Model Y. But by the time you option the 20-inch rims (and a colour other than white) on the Model Y, the C40 comes up a few grand cheaper.

There is the Mercedes-Benz EQA 250 as well, which is a few grand more expensive and has less range; the Tesla will carry you 21km further.

What's the C40 like to drive?

We didn't drive the entry-level, single-motor Volvo C40.

We drove the twin-motor variant that gets a larger 78kWh battery. Despite having a bigger battery, its range is slightly reduced compared to the single-motor. It will travel 420km on a single full charge if the conditions are right – almost identical to the XC40 Recharge Pure electric.

It makes sense too, because it is the same powertrain the XC40 uses, producing a glut of power – 300kW and 660Nm to be exact.

When I was behind the wheel, I said I'd like to buy a drink for whoever thought a family car needed this much power, because it was bonkers. Perhaps they read my review, because this one is faster again (albeit slightly), with a 0.2-second increase in the 0–100 time.

That is thanks to all the aerodynamic changes made – the most obvious being the new sloping roofline.

If you don't have the need for speed though, the single-motor C40 gets 14km of extra range, so there is some food for thought.

As you can imagine then, when you put your foot down, you get pinned back in your seat as the distance becomes the present in merely the blink of an eye.

2023 Volvo C40 single-motor front

More impressive is the way it goes around corners. It is almost as if it's on rails. There were some wet conditions on our drive to the Barossa, and while we weren't being silly by any means, the confidence you have to go around a corner with some pace is unbelievable.

There is little to no body roll too, which gives you more confidence again.

When plodding along, it's comfortable inside the cabin. The roads around Adelaide may have fewer potholes than Sydney, but when it did come across them, it absorbed the impact well, giving everyone inside less of a jolt than anticipated. This is especially surprising given the large 20-inch rims fitted to the dual-motor variant, which results in less sidewall to help absorb impact.

We found ourselves using single pedal driving virtually all day too, which essentially brakes the vehicle as you lift off the throttle, helping to recharge the battery. Unlike braking regeneration systems you may have seen in the past, there is only one setting and it will bring the vehicle to a complete stop.

It was quite easy to get used to and having driven it in that mode from the outset, we found it hard going back to using 2 pedals.

While you do get a 360-degree and reversing camera to help you manoeuvre, rear visibility is a bit limited with the sloping roofline and large C-pillars resulting in a small window size.
2023 Volvo C40 interior

What's the C40 like inside?

It's very similar to the XC40, almost identical in fact. But that's not a bad thing. Volvo knows how to put together a well built, well thought out interior.

It is laid out the same way, with the main difference being that the Volvo C40 is the first Volvo to be completely leather-free.

That hasn't impacted overall comfort, with the electronically adjustable seating as comfortable as ever. You also get heating and ventilation in the seats up front, while the rear outboard seats benefit from a heating function too.

A 9-inch touchscreen infotainment system is iPad-esque and links up with a Harman Kardon sound system to cut through the silence of electric motoring.

It uses the Android Automotive operating system to control virtually everything from the dual-zone air conditioning to drive modes, and you can use voice to do any number of things, including set the destination on Google Maps.

2023 Volvo C40 Infotainment system

Good thing then that it is simple to use and navigate.

The system updates over the air too, so you should never have outdated software. It's important to note though that while data is free for the first 4 years of ownership, you'll need a plan (much like your mobile phone) after that.

There is also a wireless charging bay and 2 USB-C charging ports for devices.

If you're a passenger in the back, you'll find a good amount of legroom; however, the lower roofline has eaten into headroom. Not to worry though, because more often than not the passengers have their heads craned down at their phones and thankfully Volvo has added 2 USB-C charging points for the second row.

Despite having not driven the single-motor variant, I did sit in one and while I will leave most of my opinion for that review, I will say that it had one of the nicest dash and door trim inserts I have seen on any car. It is a map of Gothenburg, and I have no idea why, but I found it quite satisfying.
2023 Volvo C40 Single-motor interior

How big is the Volvo C40 boot?

If you are tossing up between this and the XC40, and boot space is a big factor, you'll get more space in the XC40.

That said, for what I would use it for, there's ample space as the boot comes in at 489 litres with the rear seats in place and 1,205 litres with them folded down.

Volvo C40 charging times

While we didn't charge the vehicles ourselves on this drive, Volvo says you can hook your Volvo C40 single-motor up to a public 150kW rapid charger and expect to wait just over half an hour to replenish 70% of the battery's capacity.

If you opt for the larger battery, dual-motor variant, that time climbs to 40 minutes.

Realistically, if you're in a metropolitan area, that barely gives you time to have an explore and grab a bite to eat, given you don't have to wait for a charger to become available.

2023 Volvo C40 boot

It could get a bit boring at a servo located out of the way, though.

How safe is the Volvo C40?

Volvo, the brand that gave the world the 3-point seat belt, has always been at the forefront of safety technology and innovation and the C40 is no exception.

It scored a 5-star ANCAP safety rating when tested and comes with a range of safety technology and features.

Autonomous emergency braking that is active both going forward and in reverse is always looking out for objects that could potentially collide with the car.

There is also adaptive cruise control, which differs from traditional cruise control due to the fact that it will maintain a safe distance from the car in front of you (you can control the distance too), breaking and accelerating as they do. It will even come to a complete stop and take off again.

Lane keep assist does what it says on the jar, but is also combined into pilot assist with the adaptive cruise control for almost autonomous driving – the car will steer and moderate its speed without any input. After a few seconds though, the system will start looking for pressure on the steering wheel to remain engaged.

You also get your standard stuff like blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert for when you are backing out of parking spaces and driveways, front and rear parking sensors as well as a 360-degree camera.

Volvo C40 warranty

Volvo covers the C40 Recharge with a 5-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty. The battery has an 8-year guarantee, while buyers also get 8 years of roadside assistance.

Initial impression of the Volvo C40

On paper it might be easy to side with the XC40 when buying; however, I think this C40, especially the dual-motor, is worth the additional outlay.

If you're a consumer focused on sustainability, the C40 is more responsible with its use of materials and tracking where materials are sourced.

It also happens to be a ripper of a car, too. It's balanced, fast and comfortable both in terms of ride and appointment.

I'm looking forward to spending more time with the C40 in the near future, but initial impressions are positive and I think it's worth consideration if you're in the market.

Frequently asked questions about the Volvo C40

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Alex Jeffs is the senior publisher for personal, car and business finance at Finder. He has been building websites since he was 14 years old and has tested cars everywhere from race tracks to Oodnadatta. See full bio

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