In case you forgot, Tesla and other electric vehicle start-ups don’t hold a monopoly on the EV market. Everyone’s favourite Swedish automaker, Volvo, is pushing toward an all-electric future with its ambitious goal of selling a million electrified vehicles by 2025 and providing an entirely all-electric portfolio by 2030.
While there are a few plug-in hybrid options in the Volvo lineup and an electric version of the XC40 subcompact crossover, Volvo is taking a significant step toward its long-term mission with its C40, its first exclusively electric vehicle.
For years Volvo has had a reputation for boxy, square-looking vehicles that screamed practicality over sexiness, but the automaker has managed to make those right angles aesthetically pleasing. The C40 looks similar to the squared-off XC40 from the front, but the side profile slopes downward, giving it a sporty, coupe-ish look. The line created by the windows separates the body from the cabin, and the black-glass roof and rear pillar further accentuate the sporty look.
Volvo has incorporated attractive, high-quality materials in the cabin of the C40 that are made from recycled and bio-based sources. For the first completely leather-free Volvo, the automaker has invented a leather replacement called Nordico made from PET bottles, material from sustainable forests, and recycled wine-bottle corks.
The C40’s performance matches the confidence of its evocative design. The combined output of motors is an impressive 402 horsepower, which, considering the mass of the C40, is just right. The electric vehicle reaches highway speeds from a standstill in just 4.7 seconds, which isn’t too shabby considering it weighs over two tonnes. Fortunately, the extra weight doesn’t reduce agility. The small crossover features responsive steering and changes direction with ease. The only complaint is that the braking performance could be improved, even when relying on the regenerative-heavy one-pedal feel.
As an electric vehicle and a Volvo, the C40 has a certain quirkiness. There is no on/off button—just pull the gear selector to Drive. To turn it off, just put it in Park and get out. One of the few settings to toggle is the one-pedal driving mode, which allows you to accelerate or stop by just flexing your right foot. It takes getting used to.
The C40 manages about 364 kilometres of range on a full battery, which is merely average given the availability of extended-range EVs out there. Charging the vehicle is fairly convenient, as it supports charging up to 150 kilowatt hours, which will top up the battery in just 37 minutes.
Assistant At Hand
High-tech cars offer a bit more than expected. The C40 has some help from Google. The infotainment system is powered by technology from the search-engine giant and, as a result, can answer queries just like an at-home digital assistant. Say, “Hey, Google,” and it jumps to attention, awaiting your command. You can ask it to tell you a joke, input an address into the navigation system, change the playlist, or adjust the cabin temperature with ease. It feels so natural, and users of Google Assistant will be right at home with it.