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A friend electric


Jun 21, 2022

Motoring writer Ian Lamming enjoys a stress-free ride courtesy of Volvo’s new electric SUV, the C40

While I’ve never met an electric vehicle that wasn’t great to drive, that doesn’t make them all equal.

Volvo’s brand new C40 is definitely perched at the top thanks to ease-of-use charging and brilliant driving dynamics.

There’s always an element of dread associated with EVs thanks to unreliable public chargers, range anxiety and a lack of willingness to draw from the home mains.

But time spent in the company of the new C40 has gone a long way to putting these fears to bed while the sheer driving enjoyment has managed to tuck them in and read them a comforting story.

C40 is a new model, fully electric and offers an XC40 front with a coupe backend, albeit still in a SUV package.

The looks grab you from the front because there’s next to no grille – no need, there’s no engine up front that requires cooling – then the roofline plummets as it swoops down to an attractive rear end. Add in a set of big alloys and short overhangs and you have a car that looks squat and purposeful, most definitely sporty.

Inside is the familiar Volvo set up of large domineering, iPad-esque touchscreen and virtual dash, which I prefer to run with the satnav map displayed in the middle and flanked by other dials. That way I can change the touchscreen to give me a variety of information on offer but still know where I’m heading.

The first bit of info I require is the state of charge. The virtual dash shows the percentage of battery remaining and the touchscreen, in the right setting, gives you the number of miles to empty. A 100 per cent charge seems to offer 210 miles but the good news is this seems pretty accurate.

With long distances to cover most days, at some stage this means going in hunt of a rapid charger which, within the hour, maxes out the charge again for the journey home. That, in turn, means when I plug into the three pin at home it will be topped up back to 100 per cent by the time I need the car again next morning for the school run. That works pretty well for me, takes away any anxiety and means I’m more than happy with the C40 as a practical runaround.

Ancillary functions don’t seem to affect the range either so you can drive along listening to the radio with the heater or aircon on with impunity.

Those fears allayed it becomes possible to enjoy the many merits of the C40 which is truly excellent to drive. The ride is hard which helps handling as does the permanent four-wheel-drive; the C40 is nothing but accomplished through the bends, gripping like a limpet on the exit, though it can become a tad choppy over the worst bumps.

Regenerative braking means the Volvo can be operated on a single pedal most of the time.

Lift off the throttle and the car starts to slow rapidly. This is brilliant as you learn to drive without having to use the brakes. In slow-moving traffic, it simply stops without having to move your foot across to cover the brake pedal.

Where the C40 is a stunner is in the performance stakes. The electric motors turn out a combined 408PS and an incredible 660Nm of torque. This means performance is breath-taking. The benchmark 0-60mph figure comes up in a blistering 4.5 seconds so expect to be first away from the lights.

But more impressive is the mid-range; it’s like driving a four-wheel motorbike in the way it has relentless amounts of power to overtake quickly and safely. Travelling cross country, it picks off the slow stuff with consummate ease.

Top speed is 112mph which is more than enough for our needs unless you happen to be driving in a hurry on the autobahns, which I never am.

I do wax and wane when it comes to EVs mainly depending on my experience of charging throughout the time I’m with them. The C40 definitely convinces me they are a good idea. Go Volvo, you are on a charge.

Fact File
Volvo C40 Recharge Twin Plus
Engine: electric
Power: 408hp, 660Nm of torque
Range: up to 273 miles
0-60mph: 4.5 secs
Top speed: 112mph
Combined MPG: 0
Transmission: Automatic, all-wheel drive
CO2 g/km: 0
Price: from £55,550.00

By French