2023 Volvo C40: Interesting Ideas, Annoying Mistakes

2023 Volvo C40 Recharge Twin Ultimate AWD: Let’s ship things!

price: $61,195 for the final trim level. It still qualifies for a $7,500 federal tax deduction.

Conventional wisdom: Motor Trend likes “awesome design and details, excitingly fast acceleration, and makes the brake pedal almost obsolete,” but not “the rear view is super fast, software needs polishing, midrange and charging.”

Marketed stadium: “Discover the first pure electric crossover with a leather-free interior and integrated Google.” Available online only. truly.

Indeed: Really interesting.

what’s new: The C40 is a newcomer in the beautifully sized compact SUV segment. This is electrifying.

plug it in: Readers who want to see electric car reviews definitely make up the bulk of my mailbag. So between now and the end of the year, expect plenty of poles in new EVs — among them the Audi RS GT E-Tron, Genesis GV60, Hyundai Ioniq 5, G80, Kia EV6, Mercedes EQS 580 and Nissan Leaf. Drive along to experience a wide range of petrol-free vehicles.

I couldn’t see a better starting point than the C40; Volvo tends to battery power, with electric and all-hybrid for 2023. (I tested the 2022 model, but they are identical).

Competition: Low-priced electric cars include the Tesla Model 3, Model Y, Ford Mustang Mach-E, and Volkswagen ID 4. For a similar size, the Genesis GV60 comes with more money.

start me: The stylish new electric car is so high-tech that it doesn’t even need a start button – the seat starts the car when the driver is detected, it is claimed. Let’s hope Volvo offers bulletproof reliability and a user-friendly design.

Driver’s seat: The view from the car is deplorable. Isn’t an essential component of leadership the ability to see the actual road? The view up front is okay, but the belt line is so high that the side view is short.

Draw attention to the back, and the designer must have read a motivational poster about not looking back. The rear view is so truncated, I feel like a 6-year-old Scott again, peeking through the coal driveway at my grandmother’s house. Oddly enough, the camera offers the same view as well, although it randomly switches to the peripheral view.

Furthermore, on one occasion while taking the car out of the parking lot, the screen never switched to the backup camera. Yikes.

The seats are comfortable, though, covered in premium Nubuck microtech vinyl in the beautiful blue of our test model. This is not your grandfather’s feather.

On the road: The C40’s driving almost makes up for those initial flaws. Highways, country roads and city streets are great places to be in this vehicle. A trip down the winding, tree-lined roads around the Midea underlined how cool the C40 zigs and zags on hills and curves.

There are no real “driving modes”, although you can tweak the steering feel via the touchscreen, which is a bit more trouble than it’s worth.

up to speed: Like all electric cars, the 402-horsepower C40 has great points when you need it most. Drivers can feel confident when slipping through traffic that reaching almost any speed can be an easy and fun experience. The car hits 60 mph in 4.2 seconds, according to Motor Trend, which says it’s tied for the fastest Volvo ever tested.

lazy: The small winch needs a click forward to reverse direction and a locomotive to drive, with a button to stop.

Friends and things: The rear seat provides ample room for size, with good legroom, and good legroom. The central seat will be less pleasant.

Luggage space is 15 cubic feet behind the rear seat, and expands to 49 cubic feet with the seat folded down. There’s also a small front loading compartment for extra stuff, and another bonus for getting rid of gasoline.

How it was built: The C40 made it to the Sturgis test ground without a hitch, but the same can’t be said for its stablemate, the XC40 Recharge EV. That car broke down while being delivered during a rainstorm this spring, and it never arrived, on two different occasions, as I recall. An industry insider familiar with Volvos has reported seeing a similar issue with XC40s on rainy days.

Consumer Reports hasn’t rated the car yet, but its companions, The XC60 and XC90 got 3 and 1 out of 5, respectively.

Play some tunes: Harman Kardon stereo operates through the touch screen. Adjustments are fairly easy, with a volume dial in the middle, some forward/backward buttons, and then in the display.

The sound from the system is about a B or so, with no midrange tweaks, just bass and treble. He can seem a little shy.

Errors in the infotainment system lead to further downtime. I tried setting up my phone with bluetooth, and I immediately got frustrated screaming at my Volvo. I’m going to pair everything up and start a song, and in a few minutes, it’s off. Or it will disappear when I back up and never come back.

Eventually, I learned that it’s easy to find the Bluetooth connection in the gadget button on the touchscreen, so I can just press that. But this was after I went down the rabbit hole for a similar tool button in the top right corner of the menu.

electric range: 226 miles, on the short side. Charging can occur from 10% of the range to 80% in 37 minutes using DC fast charging, according to Volvo.

Where to build it: Ghent, Belgium

In the end: Several quirks paired with Volvo’s fail-and-fault reliability scores make this otherwise fun car worrisome, and place it low on our electric vehicle selection list.

next week: Genesis GV60

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