Volvo C40 Recharge: Recycled materials, Fresh Design and a Peek at the Future of Driving

Featured Image Volvo C40 Recharge At One Of California'S Many Windmill Farms

A toned and sexy coupe-style SUV always turns my head.

On first glance, you might not think the Volvo C40 Recharge electric car is really a part of the Volvo family. Gone is the signature columnar grille, the square rear end and the signature tail lights. Added is the brand’s first-ever coupe SUV design with a more angular front end, a sloping roof and an aerodynamic rear end capped with a sporty-looking spoiler. 

In all, Volvo’s first dedicated electric-only car, with 226 miles of range and a $56K price tag, may be the sexiest Volvo ever. That’s a departure from the brand’s hallmarks of safe, luxurious family-first SUVs, sedans and wagons, even those designed for performance driving. (Not that it isn’t safe, luxe, great for families and fun to drive; it’s all that too.)

I was excited to set course in Palm Springs to test out the C40’s electric performance. I had to see how its one-pedal drive mode does on hills and in traffic. Plus, I would get to luxuriate in the car’s completely sustainable interior. This interior really got my attention; it looks and feels like leather and suede but is actually made from recycled post-consumer plastics. It’s 100% leather free. Wow. 

The Interior Of The Volvo C40 Recharge

The interior of the Volvo C40 Recharge. Photo: Scotty Reiss

The Volvo C40 Drive Experience 

Let me set the stage before I share what it’s like to drive the Volvo C40 Recharge. This electric car is powerful. It is capable of generating 402 horsepower and 486 lb.-ft of torque. That power is thanks to two motors, one on each axle, that also deliver all-wheel drive. Volvo uses this same EV system on the XC40 Recharge, the slightly larger, more classically styled compact electric SUV Volvo introduced last year.

All this adds up to a car that gets up to speed quickly (thanks to the torque). It sails down the highway with ease at any speed (due to the horsepower) and hugs every curve in the road (thanks to all-wheel drive). It was easy to zip into another lane, quickly get around a slow truck and climb hills. Additionally, it’ll be able to handle snow and slippery situations. The C40 has an off-road mode under the driving settings menu. Overall, it’s fun to drive.

However, the fun drive experience of the Volvo C40 Recharge isn’t the whole story. The range and regenerative braking are the other half of the cookie. This electric SUV does exactly what is expected of it. The car has a range of 226 miles (it showed a 210-mile range when I started my day) and two drive modes: Normal and one-pedal. 

The View Of The Driver'S Seat

The view of the driver’s seat. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Electric Driving, Simplified 

Volvo has taken a simplified approach to regenerative braking. Its system is similar to Tesla’s one-pedal drive mode, though it does not slow as forcefully as Teslas do. However, the Volvo doesn’t have paddles or a mode button to change or set your regenerative braking strength. Many electric cars have paddles on the back of the steering wheel that allow you to set the level of regenerative braking. Also, it does not have a “B” mode on the gear selector, something you’ll see in Volvo’s plug-in hybrids and some other EVs. In the Volvo C40 Recharge, it’s simple: Normal or one-pedal. 

In normal mode, the Volvo feels just that: normal. But try putting it into one pedal drive (a selection under Settings —> Driving —> Driving Dynamics —> One Pedal option). Once you select an option, the C40 will maintain that drive style setting until you change it.

Another simplified feature is the Range Assistant app on the multimedia system. Tap this, and you can see your driving efficiency at a glance. This includes climate usage, speed and driving style. 

The Range Assistant Helps You Become A More Efficient Driver

The Range Assistant helps you become a more efficient driver. Photo: Scotty Reiss

One Pedal Driving: The Secret to Electric Car Life

Using one-pedal driving is how you’ll get the most out of any electric car. The Volvo C40 Recharge is no exception. I used one-pedal mode throughout my drive and really loved how you essentially don’t need to use the brake. You just lift off the accelerator to slow the car or even come to a full stop from a moderate speed. This is great in traffic because there is no riding the brakes at all. You simply adjust your acceleration to fit the flow of traffic. 

Here’s where one-pedal driving gets better, though: each time you lift off the accelerator you regenerate the car’s battery just a bit. So, you don’t use much power, if any, while crawling through traffic or driving down a hill, and also add to your battery’s charge. 

On our drive, we took the Pines to Palms Highway, a mountain pass that rises beyond 3,000 feet. Going up the highway, about 22 miles from my starting point to the turnaround, I used about 50 miles of range. Fortunately, I was able to recoup some of that power while coming back down the mountain. The Recharge then had the same battery life as when I started the hill climb.

Essentially, I went 10 miles up the mountain and 10 miles back down, and my range remained steady. Then, I replenished my power once again in city traffic, enough to keep my range 60 steady while driving about 20 miles from the top of the mountain to I-10. From there, I drove another 23 miles and ended the day with about 125 miles of range. That’s not bad for a nearly full day of driving.

Oh, and I used the air conditioner a lot, which can use up battery power (but I had to; it was 93 degrees outside).

The Volvo C40 Recharge Compact Coupe-Style Suv

The Volvo C40 Recharge compact coupe-style SUV in Fjord Blue Metallic. Photo: Scotty Reiss

C For Crossover, or Coupe

The C40 Recharge is the first in Volvo’s new line of electric cars. Think of it as C for Crossover or Coupe. The car is notable for its low hood line and sloped roof. On one hand, it looks really good. On the other, be prepared for reduced rear window visibility and sloped rear side windows. Luckily, the panoramic sunroof adds light to the cabin. 

Rear seat legroom is fine for a car this size; not overly large but not cramped either. However, rear-seat passengers won’t have as much headroom as front-seat passengers. It’s the trade-off for coupe-style SUVs. 

This Fully Sustainable Interior Is A Result Of Volvo'S Goal For Reduicnt Its Carbon Footprint. Plus, It Looks Nice With The Vonholzhausen Tote, Which Is Made From The Same Materials

This fully sustainable interior is a result of Volvo’s goal for reducing its carbon footprint. Plus, it looks nice with the Von Holzhausen tote, which they made from the same materials. Photo: Scotty Reiss

If This is What Recycled Materials Look and Feel Like, I’m In

Both front and rear seat passengers will appreciate the luscious materials this car is fitted with. The Volvo C40 Recharge has lots of soft-touch surfaces. Volvo made the dash panel coverings, leatherette and microsuede upholstery with contrast stitching and piping, all from recycled PET bottles. The carpets in charcoal or Fjord blue are also made from recycled materials. There are only a couple of color combinations for the interiors, though the Microtech leatherette and microsuede is a standard feature, which is pretty nice. 

The use of recycled and sustainable materials is part of Volvo’s plan to be 100% carbon neutral by 2040, and it’s a good start. 

The Front End Of The Volvo C40 Recharge Highlights The Brand Badget And Thor'S Hammer Headlights

The front end of the Volvo C40 Recharge highlights the brand badge and Thor’s Hammer headlights. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Starbucks and Google Partnerships Make the Experience Even Better

Volvo announced a couple of years ago that the company would partner with Google to develop its multimedia system. Now, it’s finally here. While the system has its drawbacks— it can’t tune Sirius XM channels or accommodate Apple CarPlay/Android Auto since the system is Google based — it still performs really well. The voice-activated assistant is fun and attentive. The maps are easy to use, and the whole system is intuitive. It’ll play your Spotify playlist or even sing a song for you (just ask!). 

You can log into your Google Play account and get even more features from your account. If you want to keep your account private, you can passcode-protect it. 

Soon, you can ask Google to guide you to the closest Starbucks to charge the Volvo C40 Recharge. Yes, Starbucks. Volvo is partnering with Starbucks on a pilot program that will install charging stations at Starbucks locations on the drive from Seattle to Denver with chargers every 100 miles. Overall, there will be 15 locations and DC fast chargers as well as level 2 chargers co-branded by Volvo and ChargePoint. Anyone can use them, not just Volvo owners. The Google system will guide you to nearby charging stations. However, people typically get the most out of charging from home. Volvo says about 85% of charging is done at home at night.

A Girls Guide To Cars | Volvo C40 Recharge: Recycled Materials, Fresh Design And A Peek At The Future Of Driving - At Home Charging Is The Best Way To Fuel This CarWhat This Car Costs 

Another element that Volvo has simplified is the pricing of the C40 Recharge. Pricing starts at $58,750. Fortunately, most of the features on this car are standard, including heated front and rear seats and a wireless phone charger. There are just a few options that can drive the price over $60,000. The price of our test model was just a tad over $60K with delivery charges. 

Because this car is all-electric, it qualifies for state and federal tax incentives. This can shave up to $7,500 off your federal tax bill and up to another $2,500 off your state bill (depending on your circumstances, of course) just because you bought an electric car. Isn’t it nice when there’s an incentive to modernize your ride and early-adopt a car that’s toned, sexy and futuristic? 

Disclosure: I was Volvo’s guest for this test drive; travel and accommodations were provided, but all opinions are my own.

The Rear Seats In The Volvo C40 Recharge

The rear seats in the Volvo C40 Recharge. Photo: Scotty Reiss

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Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss