The Tale of Two Electric Siblings
I had the good fortune of clocking some decent seat time behind the wheel of these two Volvo’s during the Holiday season of 2023. The XC40 name plate was introduced in 2017 and without rebadging the vehicle, a fully electric version was released in 2020 under the name XC40 Recharge. Fast forward another year and in 2021 we have the introduction of the C40 Recharge, a coupé with a sloping rear roof line and all, because we love our 4 door coupé which aren’t really coupés, excuse my slight digression. Now, I was able to test the full twin motor version of the XC40 Recharge and single motor rear drive C40 Recharge, a perfect pairing to see what each model can do/offer and what is ultimately better (if any).
Before I go further, let me also address the elephant in the room; if you are reading this article, you are also likely familiar with the new comer EV manufacturer Polestar and the Polestar 2. Both Polestar and Volvo are owned by their parent company Geely. You will also note some of the shared design cues and similarities in running gear and switch gear between the XC40/C30 and the Polestar 2. However, the two vehicles are marketed to different groups. One clearly is targeting the SUV market, whereas the other, the sedan segment. For those who are not pressed by this difference considering the Polestar 2 may be an option.
Now for the XC40 and C40, Volvo offers both in identical trim levels. Both can be had with twin motors and single motors and for 2024 in rear drive only (for single motor versions). The former version uses a 78kWh battery and the latter, a 82kWh battery. The single motor variant gives you much better range at 471km vs. 410km in the dual motor. Output differs considerably with the dual motor producing a combined 402hp (147hp front and 255hp rear) compared to 248hp for the single motor variant. Last but not least the single motor does benefit from faster 200kW DC fast charging next to the 150kW of the dual motor. What does all this mean in real life. The Twin Motor versions are considerably quicker but you pay the price in range loss. The single motor version at 248hp is no slouch as compared to other single motor EV’s. It hustles along with decent urgency but lacks that instant kick fast EV’s are known for. If this is a must, then the Twin Motor option will fulfill your needs admirably.
The focus for both the XC40 and C40 is to attract the compact luxury SUV buyers. Its competitors are slim with the likes of the GV60 jumping to mind. The Model Y and Ioniq 5 also fall into similar size category (although the Model Y is a bigger SUV overall), but they lack the luxury component of the Volvo and particularly in terms of the Tesla the fit and finish. Inside the XC40 and C40 are identical, it is only in the rear seats and trunk where the differences between the two SUV’s become apparent. To give you that sloping roof line and sportier look the C40 gives up rear occupant head room over all trunk space. Headroom is decreased by 1 inch and cargo by 39 liters offering 413 liters compared to the XC40’s 452 liters.
Design wise the XC40 and C40 both draw from the family genetics. Both present with clean upright lines. More geometric than curvilinear in nature, they are both good looking. The C40 definitely presents as the sportier of the two. The rear deck is adjourned with a spoiler to add to this feel. The rear taillights of the C40 wrap around the deck lid coming down from the rear window edges. The XC40 on the other hand looks more like the Antman went to work on shrinking a XC90 down by a few sizes. It has a more upright stance with conventional SUV lines. Both models carry Volvo’s signature Thor’s hammer headlights and for 2024 paint schemes come in blacked out roofs down to the shoulder line.
Both the XC40 and C40 utlilize the familiar Volvo cabin. This ensures a level of continuity from one model to the next and interior design is eliminated as deciding factor. Materials do differ and the use of different plastics, open pore woods and satin metals will vary depending on what model you look at and trim levels chosen. In addition, the Recharge XC40 and C40 have a unique geometric pattern light feature that adorns the dashboard and doors. Volvo has handed over the GUI and Infotainment controls to Google. This upgrade from previous systems is responsive and the voice-based commands are spot on. The system also offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. The seats in both vehicles are comfortable, fully adjustable and supportive. Low floor lines allow for easy egress and ingress, however the opening itself is tight especially at the A-pillar and roof level.
AWD Twin Motor vs. RWD Single Motor between the various trim levels is the penultimate considerations between the vehicles. The move to a RWD (rear wheel drive) platform provides for better driving dynamics and characteristics. It allows the front wheels to focus on grip and handling and the rear wheels to provide thrust. Historically the shift to FWD (front wheel drive) cars was that you put the weight of the engine on top of the drive wheels. This meant better grip. However, EV’s don’t have any front ICE (internal combustion engine) sitting over the front axle. Overall weight is more evenly distributed eliminating the historical advantages of FWD not to mention the considerable increase in curb weight that put weight on the rear axle for grip. This means with proper tires you will not suffer any loss in winter driving conditions. Now clearly AWD systems have their advantages and if you live in regions with significant heavy snowfall, the twin motor AWD variants will be model of choice. To give you some context on weight, the XC40 single motor has a curb weight of 2,070 kg and actually weighs more than a Ford F150 having an average curb weight of 2,049 kg; so we are definitely talking about some girth.
Now that you have the full down low on the two models, you may be asking what the differences will cost you. The C40 ranges from $59,950 for base single motor versions up to the Ultimate Twin Motor at $74,750. The XC40 starts at $59,950 for base single motor versions and tops out at $74,750 for the Twin Motor Ultimate, so the choice really is yours.
Volvo XC40/C40 Trim Levels
You can decide how luxurious you want your vehicle to be by picking either the Core, Plus, or Ultimate trim. They all come with the same powertrain – a twin-motor setup that makes 402 horsepower. Therefore, the difference really lies in the features and materials that each offers. For example, the Ultimate version has heated rear seats in addition to the standard heated front seats.
The Volvo XC40/C40 comes in eight exterior colors. However, the base trim only has access to six of them:
- Black Stone
- Thunder Grey
- Silver Dawn
- Crystal White
- Fusion Red
- Fjord Blue
Plus or Ultimate level, you get the added choices of Sage Green and Onyx Black.
The interior colour options inside your Volvo XC40/C40 will change depending on your chosen trim level, as well. The Core trim comes standard with Charcoal Fusion Microtech Vinyl. This elegant black color goes well with any exterior color choice.
For the Plus trim, you could choose the same upholstery or pick between Charcoal Suede Textile/Microtech in a Charcoal interior or Charcoal Suede Textile/Microtech in a Fjord Blue interior. The last of these options is a bold choice that will earn a lot of compliments from guests who climb inside your cabin; it is a popular option for those who also decide on a Fjord Blue exterior.
The Ultimate trim does not come with the Core-level upholstery option, but it can be outfitted with either of the other upholstery options found on the Plus model. In addition, it can feature a premium wool-blend upholstery in a color that is referred to as Midnight Zinc, a dark grey color.
Some may be wondering why this vehicle doesn’t come with leather seating. It is because, in addition to infusing the Volvo lineup with electrified options, this brand is seeking to promote sustainability in other ways. However, this wool blend is just as premium of an experience as leather is, and it can also be cooler to sit on during hot summer days.