Review: Volvo C40 Recharge Pure Electric (with 3D interior view)

Volvo C40 Recharge Pure Electric 

Where Malaysia Price RM288,888 On sale now Engine permanent magnet synchronous motor Power 303kW/408bhp Torque 660Nm Gearbox single-speed Battery Capacity 78kWh Range 450km Kerb weight 2150kg Top speed 180km/h 0-100km/h 4.7 sec   CO2 zero Rivals

What is it?

The Volvo C40 Recharge Pure Electric is an all-electric SUV. Although the C40 is based on the XC40, there are differences in looks. C40 has more angular headlights, coupé roofline and a distinctive rear tailgate design. The C40 was designed as solely a battery electric vehicle, unlike the XC40 which is available in petrol as well as plug-in-hybrid and electric versions.

What is it like?

Chunky, dark, and so minimalist that there’s no “Hi, Volvo!” voice assistant nor even a start/stop button, of which, more later.

The block-like Volvo C40 is surprisingly elegant and appealing in a Brutalist architectural way with a heavy-set body, a tiny glass house, thick blindspot C-pillar and high shoulder-line. The stylish signature Thor hammer headlights and tubular taillights are distinctively Volvo.

It’s also one of the most powerful electric cars on the road with 660Nm of torque, and the capability of all-wheel drive. That’s more torque than the Porsche Taycan 4S.

After the vivid BYD Atto 3, the pared down environment of the C40 was a stark contrast. The C40 seemed to take Scandinavian minimalism to the extreme including only one colour ambient lighting, white. Plain is the “theme” of the cabin which is shades of dark, made inkier by the minute rear windscreen.

The ‘black’ vegan interior would have been gloomy if not for the panoramic glass roof and that the upholstery isn’t jet black but a charcoal grey. At night, the backlit fascia panels and ambient lighting provided illumination and depth in an otherwise pitch black cabin.

An usual first time experience was the lack of a start/stop button to switch on the car. The doors unlock as you approach with the key on your person. Get in, put the car into gear and go. To “switch off”, put the gear into P and get out. It was disconcerting the first few times but easy to get accustomed to very quickly.

Impressions aside, the austere simplicity of the cabin quickly became “fuss-free” with a lot more planning than it would seem from plain black, glossy and matte.

Manual access to all the most commonly used functions is immediate. The air-conditioning blower speed and temperature controls are at the bottom of the nine-inch touchscreen monitor and are available even if the screen is dark. Just below that are the audio controls: back, a big button to play or pause music and fast forward. The audio controls are also on the steering wheel.

For more controls, features and settings there is the Volvo app. You can only register and activate the app when both car keys are together. This makes it more difficult for an unauthorised person to pair the C40 to their smartphone to be a nuisance or to stalk you because one of the features in the app is the car’s real-time location. The app also locks and unlocks the car doors, sounds the horn, opens and closes the windows and remotely acclimatises the car – switches on the air-con remotely to cool down the cabin.

For those who like Voice Commands, Volvo uses Google Assistant  and Google services . You don’t have to connect to your Google account to adjust cabin comfort features, use Google Maps for navigation or check your Range. However, if you did log into your Google account, your Google profile would take over and more services would be available. Also, if you’re already use Google Assistant, it would recognise your voice and saved preferences.

Alternatively, there is also Android Auto and Apple Carplay. Just plug-in your phone.

With less unfamiliar interfaces to adjust to in the car, it’s easier to stay focused on the road and the traffic around – the safety ethos that Volvo espouses.

Should I get one?

Quite simply, yes because the C40 is a rarity – an incredibly sophisticated yet uncomplicated vehicle. There aren’t any menus within menus to hunt through – until you’ve become so flustered you can’t remember what you were trying to do.

The C40 is also generously specced where it makes a difference to the driver. For starters, with the latest versions of advanced driver assistance features. The chunky C-pillar ceased to be an obstruction as the blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert with auto-brake and the 360-view camera are far more effective than a telescopic neck, swivelling head and quick human reactions.

Then there are the cosseting sports seats in alcantara that keep one comfortably supported during long journeys. There is also the incredibly roomy boot –  we were able to get a wheelchair in and the level floor made it easy to slide it in and out.

Volvo is also considerate with keyless entry sensors. The C40 is one of the few cars with sensors on all the doors. It’s so convenient when you don’t have to dig around your pockets or bag to look for the key in the rain just to open a passenger door.

RM288,888 for the Volvo C40 Recharge Pure is not small change but if you’re looking for a small electric SUV, the C40 should be at the top of the list to consider.