The coolest Volvo? That might be this one, the new C40 Recharge, revealed this week as one of a coming new generation of battery cars from Sweden that hopes to speed Volvo on its much-publicised journey to full electrification in only nine years.
The sleeker twin of the high-riding XC40 Recharge – Volvo’s sole battery-electric car to date – comes with coupe rather than SUV appeal, characterised by its sloping roof and distinctive new rear end design. In other ways including the blanked-off grille look up front, it mirrors the taller and more practical battery-powered XC40 which arrives in UK showrooms this month.
When will this five-door coupe version be in UK showrooms? Well, it won’t be, not in the conventional sense anyway. This will be the first Volvo to be sold entirely online, the eventual fate for all Volvo models that bear the Recharge badge; Recharge is Volvo’s equivalent of Mercedes’ EQ or Audi’s e-tron battery-electric sub brands. Volvo has said that by 2030 it will not make a single combustion-engined or hybrid car.
As all-electric and all-online the new C40 Recharge epitomises Volvo’s future, as Volvo chief executive Håkan Samuelsson tells us: “Instead of investing in a shrinking business, we choose to invest in the future – electric and online.”
As Volvo’s first attempt at a coupe-style of high-riding 4.4m long five-door, the C40 Recharge follows a style set by cars like the Tesla Model Y, Audi Q4 e-tron and BMW iX3. It goes into production in Belgium in the autumn, alongside its bigger XC40 Recharge brother, and should arrive here early in 2022.
As yet there is no price but the battery XC40 costs from £53,155 and the C40 is unlikely to depart massively from that, while also bound to offer the various subscription-based ownership alternatives that Volvo wants to push.
As with the XC40, the latest model faces its rivals head-on: it’s all-wheel-drive with a 204PS (150kW) motor on each axle for a total system power of over 400PS (294kW) and torque of 660Nm (488lb ft). Zero to 62mph takes 4.9 seconds and the top speed is restricted to 112mph, as it is for all Volvos these days. The platform, called CMA, is shared not only with the XC40 but also the Polestar 2 and like those cars is built around a 78kWh battery pack offering a range of up to 260 miles.
Although lower of body, the C40 retains the XC40’s high seating position and luggage space. Volvo is promising a range of colour and deco options exclusive to the C40 but don’t expect leather upholstery: it will be the first Volvo to be completely cow-free. Interior design, dashboard and features like the Google-based infotainment system are as on the XC40 Recharge.
The “40” series has been a success for Volvo, with the XC40 in petrol and hybrid forms already popular. These models will continue for the time being but in the long run it is the Recharge versions that will take over as Volvo works towards its pledge of an all-electric model range by 2030.
By 2025, just four years away, half all Volvos will be battery-electric, says the company, and that means more Recharge models will be hard on the C40’s heels; a smaller C20 and all-electric XC90 are tipped as likely next candidates for the battery treatment.