The 2023 Volvo C40 Is A Beauty With Flaws

2023 Volvo C40 Recharge Twin Ultimate

Price: $75,050 CAD

Colour: Crystal White

The 2023 Volvo C40 is indicative of a strange trend in the automotive business. Niche cars. There are many cars that are very similar to other cars but have very small differences designed to satisfy a perceived demand. The C40 is, almost completely, an XC40. The vehicles are nearly identical with the exception of the “coupe” rear sloping roofline on the C40. I’m not sure I accept the idea that there is enough of a demand to justify the existence of both of these cars. Clearly Volvo disagrees. Disagreements aside, I struggled with whether or not the C40 is a good car. I decided that it is a good car, but one with flaws.

Power & Performance

One thing the little C40 is not lacking is power. This rocket comes with 402hp and 486 lb/ft coupled to an AWD system that keeps the car on the road when your kidneys are crushed by the G-Forces. The C40’s 0-60mph time is listed at 4.7 seconds. This is accurate and I think a little underrated as I came in a little under that and I’ve read numerous reports of times several 1/10’s of a second faster. This thing loves a good hammering.

Exterior

This is a handsome little brute. I have no qualms with its looks. That sloping rear roof they added does improve its appearance over the more square and conventional outline of the XC-40. I also like the little spoiler on the gate at the back. Usually this would be a useless bit of design but when you put your foot down in the C40 you believe it’s doing its part to keep you on the ground. The solid front grille is still Volvo but tells you immediately there’s no internal combusting going on under the hood.  It’s a pretty smile.

Interior

Volvo makes a big deal about how there is no leather in the C40. I like the idea of moving away from leather products in cars. I don’t usually like it in a vehicle as it doesn’t stand up under punishment and on extreme weather days I prefer fabrics under my rear end. The wool seats in the C40 are wonderful. I can understand why not everyone would like them at first glance as it feels a little like sitting on a scrubbing pad but I assure you, it really is comfortable.   

I’m a notorious carpet snob. I like a quality carpet in a vehicle. There is a trend among manufacturers to use ever cheaper carpet in cars. I think they think we won’t notice. We do, I assure you. In the C40 we get partially recycled carpet which is pretty rough and not nice to the touch. It does vacuum okay and that’s important, so I’ll give it a pass for something under my feet.

The C40 comes with one pedal drive and it’s a completely intuitive way to drive. Your traditional braking system is there as more of a backup than an everyday thing you’d use. The only adjustment you can make on the little Volvo is to turn it off. I did this and within five minutes turned it back on. I really enjoyed the regenerative braking even though it might be a little more aggressive than on some other cars. The only scary thing was going back to a regular car after a couple of days and nearly forgetting to hit the brakes as I approached a red light.

The interior of the C40 is roomy for a car of its size. The driver has plenty of headroom and visibility is good. The rear seats are a bit of a different story though. That pesky roof redesign leaves you lacking headroom even if you’re only 5’ 8” like me. Anyone taller will be scraping follicles on the roof. 

Quality

There are numerous things to like about the C40 and while the vehicle is well made it does show signs of some light corner cutting such as the carpet and the thin plastics in the door cards. Otherwise the car is well engineered and feels like a quality vehicle.

CQI – 6. This partially recycled carpet should have gone straight to the landfill. Feels durable and at least you can vacuum it but it’s a little like running your hand over steel wool.

Value

At 75k CAD this thing blows away all of its competitors from a cost perspective. Any number of other, similarly sized EV’s are available that are just as fast, give you way more equipment, go further and do it for less money. On price alone you’d have to be a hardcore fan of recycled carpet to choose this car.   

Final Thoughts

When I drove the XC-90 recently I announced to the world how much I secretly love Volvo’s. This is still true, and it will take more than the stumble that is the 2023 C40 to make me change my mind. It’s still deeply disappointing though when your secret lover breaks your heart a little. Volvo had the opportunity to knock it out of the park with a small, fully electric CUV that was built to the high standards we have all come to expect. Instead, we get a series of shortcuts with a price tag that makes the whole thing a non-starter.

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