2022 Volvo C40 Recharge Twin Ultimate – Not Quite Fully Charged

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey

Fast Facts

2022 Volvo C40 Recharge Twin Ultimate Fast Facts

Dual electric motors, front and rear (402 horsepower, 486 lb-ft of torque)
Transmission/Drive Layout
Single-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive
Fuel Economy, MPGe
94 city / 80 highway / 87 combined (EPA Rating)
Fuel Economy, Le/100KM
2.5 city / 2.9 highway / 2.7 combined (NRCan Rating)
Base Price
$58,750 (U.S.) / $72,250 (Canada)
As-Tested Price
$60,540 (U.S.) / $75,650 (Canada)
Prices include $1,095 destination charge in the United States and $2,720 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

On paper, the 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge Twin Ultimate seems like a fine compact EV. And it looks cool. Yet it has quirks that detract from the experience – which would be OK if the driving dynamics were just a tick better.

“Quirky” is an adjective that’s been applied to Volvos in the past, in ways both good and bad, and it certainly applies here, though the quirks are more confounding than fun.

Let’s start with the most noticeable quirk – the lack of a button for starting the motor. When you want to drive, you sit down and weight sensors note your presence – you put your foot on the brake and pull back on the gear shift. A “ready” notice appears in the dash and you’re ready to drive.

When you park, you just put the gear selector in park and get out. It shuts down once you do.

In theory, this seems nice and convenient. But is pressing a button that hard? It’s already an EV, you’re not waiting for an internal-combustion engine to turn over and fire. I couldn’t think of a use case where needing to be in the driver’s seat with the key on your person would inconvenience you except for a scenario where a driver runs into a store and leaves passengers to play with the radio. I’ve reached out to Volvo for clarification on this and will update if I receive it.

Admittedly, this could be Ludditism (did I just make up a word?) at work – this might be one of those things that become second nature and quite natural to owners. To me, it felt like tech for the sake of tech – “Hey, we can do this, so we should, even if it’s not all that beneficial.”

Another annoying quirk involved the infotainment system and its learning curve. The good news here is that the screen is huge and easy to read. Props to Volvo for that. The bad news is that some of the menus are a bit tricky to decipher if you’re new to the brand – I found myself performing an unintended function a bit too often.

On the other hand, that may have also been a car-reviewer problem. As much as we underpaid and overfed keyboard wretches kvetch about difficult-to-operate infotainment menus, we do understand that in many cases, familiarity breeds ease of use. In other words, these problems go away once you learn the system, which any owner would in short order.

To be fair, Android phone users may find the Google-based system a bit quicker to learn than iPhone users.

Finally, like many EVs, the Volvo ditches AM radio. We’ve covered the disappearance of AM radio a lot lately, and some of you say you won’t miss it, but I still listen to sports and news on AM and found myself missing it. Save the AM radio!

I’d probably not have led the review with relatively minor complaints if the C40 was more engaging to drive. It’s got the typical EV quickness from jump – as repetitive as it might make reviews, I love how almost all EVs offer instantaneous torque – but I was let down by artificial steering feel and handling that felt a tad too ponderous for a car of this size. That’s a relative term, to be sure – the C40 does have some sprightliness. Just not quite enough. You get a sense of sport on initial turn-in, but the car could be even livelier. Again, the lack of connection from the steering wheel to the tire could be at issue here.

Handling might be a bit of a letdown, but the car’s ride is generally good, though a bit too stiff at times, especially when encountering the broken pavement that’s so common in my home city. The overall ride/handling/acceleration package isn’t bad – I don’t want to lead you astray, dear reader, and come across as too harsh – so much as that it doesn’t live up to its initial promise. You can have some fun here, but I feel like the C40 could do more with a little extra effort on Volvo’s part.

The dual electric motors (front and rear) that provide the car with all-wheel drive get their juice from a 78 kWh lithium-ion battery, and the system’s output is 402 horsepower and 486 lb-ft of torque. Again, this amount of power available on instant demand means the car’s ability to get moving from a dead stop is impressive.

Like many EVs, the C40 recharge offers one-pedal driving.

Volvo is a brand with offerings ranging from entry-luxury to full-scale luxury, and the C40 Recharge is supposed to be a reasonably-priced electric upscale urban runabout. Herein lies the true problem. The car’s driving dynamics might a bit of a letdown, but the handling is still pretty decent. There’s power on tap for acceleration. The quirks I whined about up top won’t annoy everyone. But the price tag is a bit off-putting.

The base price for my test unit was $58K. That price includes features such as the 12.3-inch gauge screen, 9-inch infotainment screen, Google services, climate pre-conditioning, Bluetooth, USB ports, wireless phone charging, LED headlights, LED fog lights, blind-spot information system with steer assist, cross-traffic alert with automatic braking for collision avoidance, collision mitigation, lane-departure alert, lane-keep assist, a fixed panoramic glass roof, heated front seats, and dual-zone climate control.

That base price included the Ultimate package, which included 20-inch wheels, heated rear seats, the aforementioned keyless drive, adaptive cruise control, a power liftgate, Harmon Kardon audio, and a heated steering wheel. So, with the $695 metallic paint and the $1,095 destination fee, the total came to $60,540.

Perhaps that’s the biggest letdown here – the C40 Recharge could be a fun, relatively affordable way to introduce buyers to EVs in general and the Volvo brand specifically. I understand that the build costs of EVs are high now and will drop as the technology spreads, but for now, it’s unfortunate that getting the ultimate recharge will cost so much.

[Images © 2023 Tim Healey/TTAC.com]

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Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

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2 of 52 comments
  • Haze3 Haze3 on Jun 12, 2023

    As Tim noted, quirks are fine but the price is the issue.

    In the mid-50K's, they are competing with substantially more capable vehicles (range, size, etc.) from several manufacturers. Only blind Volvo loyalty is on their side.

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  • Bob65688581 We bought zillions of German cars, despite knowing about WWII slave labor. Refusing to buy something for ideological reasons is foolish.Both the US and the EU have imposed tariffs, so the playing field is level. I'll buy the best price/quality, regardless of nationality.Another interesting question would be "Would you buy one of the many new European moderate-price EVs?" but of course they aren't sold here.Third interesting question: "Why won't Stellantis sell its best products in America?"
  • Freshblather No. Worried there will be malicious executable code built into the cars motherboard that could disable the Chinese cars in the event of hostilities between the west and China.
  • Bd2 Absolutely not - do not want to support a fascist, totalitarian regime.
  • SCE to AUX The original Capri was beautiful. The abomination from the 90s was no Capri, and neither is this.It looks good, but too similar to a Polestar. And what's with the whacked price?
  • Rover Sig Absolutely not. Ever.