Test Drive: An electric beast
Volvo's C40 Recharge Pure Electric is stylish and powerful
published : 17 Apr 2023 at 07:10
newspaper section: Life
writer: Kingsley Wijayasinha
Volvo is making a strong comeback in the Thai automobile market thanks to an interesting product line-up that consists of only electrified vehicles.
Sales for the Swedish manufacturer soared by 71% in Thailand last year, despite a global semiconductor shortage, with fully-electric models like the C40 Recharge Pure Electric and XC40 Recharge Pure Electric enjoying up to 190% growth.
The two electric models make up as much as one-third of all Volvo sales in Thailand -- the remaining consist of plug-in hybrid models, which grew by 24% in 2022.
Volvo is currently celebrating its 50th year in Thailand and announced that it will offer only fully-electric vehicles here by 2025, five years ahead of the company's global plan.
In this review, we get our hands on the C40 Recharge Pure Electric which offers driving enjoyment plus lots of technology at a price tag of 2,790,000 baht.
Apart from the standard 5-year/ 150,000km warranty, Volvo is also offering 5-year/100,000km free maintenance, 24-hour emergency service for five years, three years of free insurance worth 180,000 baht and a free wall box charger. The battery carries an 8-year/150,000km warranty.
Volvo has always maintained a unique design philosophy that's generally different to others, which is a good thing for the brand in terms of exclusivity.
The C40 Recharge Pure Electric comes only in electric form, and in many ways represents the future of the brand, according to Volvo.
It's built from the CMA (Compact Modular Architecture) platform developed by Volvo and Chinese owner Geely that's highly flexible but is already five years old. The first products from this platform were powered by internal combustion engines, but plug-in hybrid variants were later added as well as fully-electric variants.
Compared to the XC40, the C40 has a fastback design that looks more athletic while sharing the same fundamentals. This includes the Thor's Hammer headlights with 84 LEDs controlled by a front camera -- each light can adjust its own brightness automatically in response to ambient light. The body-coloured cover grille houses the Volvo logo and tells us that it's an electric car.
Volvo says that the roofline has been lowered to resemble a coupe, while the patch-style taillights match the main light panel. The Aero Optimized Spoiler Panel not only looks sporty but does contribute to improved balance and grip on the road.
Large 19-inch wheels are mated to 235/50 Pirelli P Zero tyres up front and 255/45 at the rear.
Despite being leather-free, the interior still impresses with neat Scandinavian design and eye-catching Fjord Blue carpets. The seats, upholstered in synthetic materials, are rather sporty with large side bolsters to keep occupants in place during hard cornering. Both front seats are electrically powered.
The multi-function steering feels nice in the hands and you get a 12.3-inch digital instrument display. Meanwhile, the 9-inch centre touchscreen comes with Google Built-in, which means you can directly access apps such as Google Maps and Assistant. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto also help make life easier.
Controls for the air-conditioning are incorporated into the touchscreen except for windscreen defrosters, leaving just a few hard buttons plus a volume knob for the great-sounding Harman Kardon sound system.
There's a wireless charging pad and USB-C ports as well as plenty of storage spaces for various needs around the cabin.
One of the interesting gadgets in the cabin is the back-lit décor on the console and door panels that lift the atmosphere when driving at night.
A huge panoramic glass sunroof comes as standard and that's great, but the problem is that Volvo has not equipped a sunblind in case you want less light in the cabin, which is normally the case in tropical countries like Thailand.
There's not much visibility through the small rear windscreen, but there are plenty of cameras and sensors as well as a ton of intelligent safety features to keep you safe.
In terms of luggage, there's 414 litres of space that can be increased to 1,200 litres with the rear seats folded. There's also additional storage under the bonnet.
At first, the accelerator pedal in the C40 Recharge Pure Electric might appear dull when taking off at low speeds. But with an open road, floor it and you'd be stunned by the sheer amount of power available from the electric motors -- it does get scary.
The performance comes courtesy of two electric motors developing a combined 408hp and 660Nm of torque. This is enough to give the 2.1-tonne crossover coupe an acceleration of just 4.7secs for the 0-100kph dash. The top speed is limited to 180kph, which is typical of electric vehicles, but that's not a problem since we don't have an autobahn in the country.
The 78kWh lithium-ion battery provides a range of approximately 420km in the WLTP test cycle, with an electric consumption of 217Wh/km.
With the free wall box charger from Volvo, you can fully charge the battery overnight while a 150kW quick charger will require less than 30 minutes (10%-80%). The charging cable provided in the luggage compartment is pretty long which adds a degree of convenience.
Power is delivered via a single-speed transmission to all four wheels, and there's a one-pedal mode which is convenient when used in day-to-day city driving.
The front strut and rear multi-link suspension (with stabiliser front and rear) offer a comfortable low-speed ride but do hold on to corners well to match the quick nature of the car.
While the steering is light and provides decent precision, the brake feel isn't at its best. And as mentioned, driving in the city in one pedal mode is preferable -- the normal Drive mode is better for high-speed driving.
The Volvo C40 Recharge Pure Electric is a stylish and fun-to-drive electric crossover coupe that is attractively priced in the premium European electric car market.
Pros: Strong acceleration, stylish design, excellent sound system
Cons: Poor rear visibility, no roof sunblind