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Test bench | Volvo C40: exercise in style

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With the C40, Volvo lends itself to an expensive styling exercise.

play on words

Despite appearances, the C40 Recharge is not really a new model. It’s brand new to Volvo, but it’s actually an outgoing variant of the XC40. This does not bother the Sino-Swedish brand to present it as its first fully electric vehicle based on the premise that this model, unlike the XC40, does not have a combustion engine counterpart.

Nothing would prevent the C40 from having an internal combustion engine under its hood. This Volvo shares the same architecture with the XC40 and the Polestar 2. This one claims to be so malleable that it can accommodate a variety of propellants.

As usual, it will be left to the reader to assess the “performance” of the designers who here apply the “cut” treatment introduced by the German manufacturers to energize some of their products. The recipe is not very complicated. It consists of arching the pavilion further and then extending this line using the bezel for support. This style has its drawbacks. For one thing, it usually results in reduced headroom and cargo space. On the other hand, it compromises rearward visibility. Naturally, the driving aids (parking radar, reversing camera, blind spot sensors) reduce the inconveniences, but not all of them. And that can’t overshadow the lack of a windscreen wiper either.

  • The C40 does not present itself as a sporty vehicle, but behaves as one.

    PHOTO PROVIDED BY VOLVO

    The C40 does not present itself as a sporty vehicle, but behaves as one.

  • This Volvo completely deprives itself of leather in favor of recycled materials or materials produced from plants.

    PHOTO PROVIDED BY VOLVO

    This Volvo completely deprives itself of leather in favor of recycled materials or materials produced from plants.

  •   The rear seats have good leg, knee and head room.

    PHOTO PROVIDED BY VOLVO

    The rear seats have good leg, knee and head room.

  • The very small trunk in the front.  The biggest is at the back.

    PHOTO PROVIDED BY VOLVO

    The very small trunk in the front. The biggest is at the back.

  • In terms of life on board, the C40 offers a decent living space, nothing more.

    PHOTO PROVIDED BY VOLVO

    In terms of life on board, the C40 offers a decent living space, nothing more.

  • With the C40, you apply the brakes, or you leave it to the vehicle to slow itself down to a complete stop without ever using the brake pedal.

    PHOTO PROVIDED BY VOLVO

    With the C40, you apply the brakes, or you leave it to the vehicle to slow itself down to a complete stop without ever using the brake pedal.

  • The C40 fails to offer the same energy efficiency as the two aforementioned competitors in terms of range and power consumption.

    PHOTO PROVIDED BY VOLVO

    The C40 fails to offer the same energy efficiency as the two aforementioned competitors in terms of range and power consumption.

  • Weighing more than two tons, this Volvo makes us feel a form of heaviness when changing support and an unpleasant sensation of inertia.

    PHOTO PROVIDED BY VOLVO

    Weighing more than two tons, this Volvo makes us feel a form of heaviness when changing support and an unpleasant feeling of inertia.

1/8

Anyone who has taken a seat in a Volvo 240 will be sure to smile when discovering the C40 with its blue suede carpet. And the most contemporary will notice that this Volvo completely deprives itself of leather in favor of recycled materials or materials produced from plants. A trend in the making, but which is not yet on the agenda of many buyers.

Copy paste

Unsurprisingly, the interior furnishings of the C40 hardly differ from that of the XC40. Due to the positioning of this “faux coupé”, it is difficult not to feel a certain disappointment. The few tricks of the XC40 (the trash can integrated into the central armrest, for example) respond “present”, of course, but for a vehicle of this price (and this look), we expected a greater singularity.

The simplicity of the controls, the comfort of the seats (at the front) and the care taken in manufacturing do not change anything. The impression remains: the amount requested does not match what we have in front of us.

We will recognize the infotainment system for its ease of use, but its screen still refuses to broadcast the Android Auto and Apple CarPlay systems.

In terms of life on board, the C40 offers a decent living space, nothing more. The rear seats have good leg, knee and head room. However, the very low positioning of the seats of the bench seat makes it uncomfortable on long journeys for tall people and insufficiently sculpted to keep us in curves. As for the trunks (yes, there’s a tiny one up front), let’s look at the biggest one. This offers a volume comparable to that of the XC40 Recharge (read electric), but remains behind the competition. And since we’re talking about a trailer, let’s point out that the C40 can tow a (modest) load. The cost of hitching entails an additional outlay of some $1,800.

Transition model

The C40 does not present itself as a sports car, but behaves as such. As soon as the light turns green, this Volvo launches with force and signs times of acceleration and times for less energetic. With the equivalent of more than 400 hp under its right foot ready to react instantly, the C40 approaches, without however equaling it, the velocity of a Tesla Model Y or a Mustang Mach-E GT ( see the “Competition” screen). The C40 also fails to offer the same energy efficiency as that of the two aforementioned competitors in terms of autonomy and power consumption (see the “Specifications” tab).

The C40 jumps quickly and well, but several factors invite you to ease off on the first curve. Naturally, the weight of the vehicle is in question. Weighing more than two tons, this Volvo makes us feel a form of heaviness when changing support and an unpleasant feeling of inertia. These perceptions are however masked by a soft direction, but which is careful not to reveal the work of the front axle. It is possible to strengthen the assistance of the latter, but this function only weighs it down (artificially); it does not make it more direct, more sensitive or more precise.

Rather picked up and short, the C40 retains the services of a properly tuned suspension. Despite its 20” treads, it’s soft enough to filter out road imperfections and reasonably firm to limit body movement. On the other hand, electric worshipers are sure to note the higher decibel level of the C40. This is no doubt attributable to the “hybrid” nature of its chassis, which, it should be remembered, was designed to accommodate different types of thrusters. The most picky will also regret the absence of a configurable braking system that allows you to establish energy recovery yourself. With the C40, you apply the brakes, or you leave it to the vehicle to slow itself down to a complete stop without ever using the brake pedal. A luxury for some motorists.

Volvo C40 Refill

Price

$72,600

Eligible for government rebates

No (provincial and federal)

Visible in dealerships

Now buy online

WE love

Clever interior
Strong acceleration and pick-ups
Manufacturing quality

We love less

The price difficult to justify
Disappointing autonomy
artificial steering

Our Verdict

Being electric does not excuse everything.

Technical sheet


PHOTO PROVIDED BY VOLVO

Volvo C40 Refill

Engine(s)

  • 2 electric motors
  • Combined power: 402 hp
  • Maximum torque: 487 lb-ft

Performance

  • Weight: 2132 kg
  • Acceleration 0-100 km/h: 4.5s
  • Towing capacity: 750 kg

Gearbox

  • Standard: automatic
  • Optional: none
  • Drive mode: all-wheel drive

Tires

Battery capacity/assumed range

  • Li-ion battery
  • All-wheel drive: 78 kWh (useful: 75 kWh), 364 km range

Consumption/charging

  • 20.2 kWh/100 km (all-wheel drive)
  • Maximum charging power: 150 kW

Dimensions

  • Wheelbase: 2702mm
  • Length: 4440mm
  • Height: 1590mm
  • Width: 1873 mm (excluding exterior mirrors)

Separated at birth?


FPI STUDIOS PHOTO, PROVIDED BY DODGE

Dodge Caliber

Let the manufacturer who has never imitated the cabin of an Audi or the profile of a Jeep throw the first bolt. If we observe the C40 from certain angles, it recalls the shapes and proportions of the Caliber (our photo) marketed by Dodge from 2007 to 2012. A comparison that some will no doubt consider unflattering, but there is worse. Some passers-by encountered during this test rather felt that the inclination of the bezel and the roof arc of the C40 were more akin to the Pontiac Aztek.

Informed consumer


PHOTO PROVIDED BY VOLVO

The Volvo C40 and XC40 Recharge

Considering the sum requested for the C40, isn’t it better to afford the Recharge version of the XC40? The latter offers a slightly lower range (5 km), but is more practical and more affordable (it costs nearly $12,000 less). Even better, the XC40 Recharge qualifies for government subsidies. In its defense, the C40 embarks on board a quantity of accessories offered against supplement on the XC40.

Share your experience

The Press will soon publish the test of the following vehicles: Acura Integra, BMW 2 Series, Genesis GV60, Honda HR-V, Mercedes C-Class, Nissan Z, Subaru WRX and Volkswagen Jetta (GLi). If you own one of these vehicles or are waiting for delivery, we would love to hear from you.



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