Volvo C40 brings a dash of electric style to the Swedish company’s line-up

The Volvo C40, the Swedish car maker’s first electric-only vehicle, is a crossover-style SUV that comes with the option of a subscription ownership model

Volvo C40 Recharge
Volvo C40 Recharge
(Image credit: press)

The Volvo C40 is the Swedish manufacturer’s first electric-only model. This crossover-style SUV features a characteristic sloping rear roofline to distinguish it from its more conventional XC40 sibling. Crossovers are currently all the rage, as buyers desert regular MPV-style cars in their droves in favour of the ever-evolving SUV body style.

Part psychology, part image, the crossover is fast emerging as the acceptable face of big-car design, blending a spacious cabin with elevated ride height and relatively svelte looks.

Volvo C40 Recharge electric car

(Image credit: press)

In all honesty, there’s not a lot here that differentiates the C40 from the XC40, save for that different silhouette.

Under the skin there’s a choice of two models, the Recharge and Recharge Twin. The latter has dual electric motors for all-wheel-drive and a corresponding bump in power. The 75KW battery offers a maximum range of 274 miles, although real-world constraints and complexities will knock 10 – 20 per cent or more off that. This puts the C40 firmly into the EV hinterland, where range anxiety still lurks at the corners of the mind.

electric volvo

(Image credit: press)

This wouldn’t matter so much if the car was smaller and more suited to urban use. As it is, the C40 has aspirations to be a no-nonsense Swedish grand tourer, with practicality and power that’s undermined by the battery capacity.

As we said, this is Volvo’s first all-electric car. What it is not, is a purpose-built EV, which accounts for stylistic anachronisms that hark back to Volvo’s functional but ageing design language. That also makes it heavier and not as aerodynamic (or as well packaged) as a car designed from the ground up to take electric power.

Electric volvo

(Image credit: press)

There are still plenty of fine Volvo touches, such as a leather-free interior and the ability to subscribe, not buy, the car. If you chose the latter, there’s an option to swap out for a different car, as well as have all service and maintenance taken care of. This points the way to a future model of car ownership, one that Volvo hopes to pioneer.

There have been some fine visions of tomorrow coming out of Gothenburg in recent years, like the 360c Autonomous Concept, all of which imply that Volvo still has much more to give. The C40 might not be a groundbreaker, but it is the start of a journey worth following.

Volvo electric car interior

(Image credit: press)


Volvo C40 Recharge, from £47,100, subscription from £669/month

Jonathan Bell has written for Wallpaper* magazine since 1999, covering everything from architecture and transport design to books, tech and graphic design. He is now the magazine’s Transport and Technology Editor. Jonathan has written and edited 15 books, including Concept Car Design, 21st Century House, and The New Modern House. He is also the host of Wallpaper’s first podcast.