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Volvo C40 2023 review: Recharge Twin Motor long-term | Part 1

Volvo's C40 Recharge Twin Motor is the latest addition to the CarsGuide long-term garage. (Image: Justin Hilliard)

I’ve been fortunate enough to have driven a lot of electric vehicles, but this EV, the 2023 Volvo C40 Recharge Twin Motor, is already one of my favourites. And in good news for me and my family, I’ve got the keys to one for the next three months.

So, what exactly is a C40? And fair enough, too, if you’re asking the question, because C-series Volvos have been sports cars (C70) or hatchbacks (C30) up until now. But the C40 is a little different because it’s – get ready for it – an SUV. Shock horror.

But this isn’t any ordinary Volvo SUV, because it’s the first to be styled like a coupe (hello, C70 connection). And that’s why it’s a C-series model and not an XC.

Speaking of which, the C40 still might look familiar, because it’s closely related to the small-size XC40 wagon that’s currently $2000 cheaper than the C40.

In fact, it’s also a mechanical relation to the Polestar 2 mid-size sedan, but I digress. Either way, it’s got the BMW iX1, Lexus UX300e and Mercedes-Benz EQA firmly in its sights.

Anyway, I will unpack the C40 Recharge Twin Motor’s exterior and interior design, and practicality in the second instalment of this long-term UrbanGuide review.

And in the third, I’ll cover off how it drives and deliver my final verdict. But for now, let’s unpack what you get for your money.

The MY23 C40 Recharge Twin Motor wears a pice tag of $83,490, plus on-road costs. (Image: Justin Hilliard) The MY23 C40 Recharge Twin Motor wears a pice tag of $83,490, plus on-road costs. (Image: Justin Hilliard)

Actually, firstly, a caveat. This isn’t the C40 Recharge Twin Motor you can buy new from a Volvo dealer right now. You see, this is a MY23 example, which was superseded by the more appealing MY24 version, with orders officially open about two weeks before I picked it up.

Now, that doesn’t make this review null and void, as there are still plenty of relevant things to talk about it, but it does mean there’s some explaining to do.

On one hand, there’s the price. The MY23 C40 Recharge Twin Motor flagship listed for $83,490, plus on-road costs, but its MY24 successor costs $4500 more.

While that may seem like a significant increase, it comes alongside some important improvements, particularly under the bonnet. But note the entry-level C40 Recharge Single Motor costs $78,990, positioning it between the starting prices of the rival UX300e (from $74,000) and EQA ($78,513) and iX1 ($84,900).

For MY23 C40 Recharge Twin Motor, its driving range on the WLTP combined-cycle test is 451km. (Image: Justin Hilliard) For MY23 C40 Recharge Twin Motor, its driving range on the WLTP combined-cycle test is 451km. (Image: Justin Hilliard)

But as its name suggests, the C40 Recharge Twin Motor comes with a dual-motor powertrain, split between the front and rear axles.

For MY23, each electric motor produced 150kW of power and 330Nm of torque for a combined 300kW/660Nm. While those total outputs haven’t changed for MY24, the new asynchronous front unit now develops 117kW, while its in-house permanent magnet rear counterpart ups the ante to 183kW.

Why bother? Well, it’s all in the name of efficiency, and trust me when I say the C40 Recharge Twin Motor needs it – but more on that in a moment.

For MY23, its driving range on the WLTP combined-cycle test was 451km, but that’s increased to 507km for MY24.

Upfront of the C40 is a portrait-style 9.0-inch touchscreen. (Image: Justin Hilliard) Upfront of the C40 is a portrait-style 9.0-inch touchscreen. (Image: Justin Hilliard)

But not all of the ‘extra driving range’ credit can go to the MY24 C40 Recharge Twin Motor’s more advanced dual-motor powertrain, as it also increases the size of the onboard lithium-ion battery from 78kWh to 82kWh, and provides better cooling for it.

Better yet, the MY24 version has a maximum DC fast charge rate of 200kW, up from 150kW for the MY23.

This means the C40 Recharge Twin Motor can now charge its battery from 10 to 80 per cent capacity in about 28 minutes, an improvement of three minutes. That said, Vehicle to Load (V2L) technology is still disappointingly absent.

Needless to say, the MY24 C40 Recharge Twin Motor looks more appealing on paper than the MY23 example I’m currently driving. In fact, it’s all but guaranteed to solve my biggest gripe with it so far: it’s relative inefficiency.

The C40 features built in Google Maps satellite navigation. (Image: Justin Hilliard) The C40 features built in Google Maps satellite navigation. (Image: Justin Hilliard)

After travelling 789km in my first month, primarily within city limits (as per the UrbanGuide criteria of this long-term review), my average energy consumption was a fairly unimpressive 22.7kWh/100km, up from the 16.6kWh/100km claimed on the WLTP combined-cycle test.

That meant my real-world driving range was about 330km, based on its battery’s 75kWh of usable capacity. That’s down 121km on what it theoretically should be delivering.

Needless to say, range anxiety was somewhat of a factor for me, especially given I live in an apartment building where my car space has no access to a power outlet, let alone a wall charger that could take advantage of the C40 Recharge Twin Motor’s support for up to 11kW of AC charging (unchanged for MY24).

And to make matters worse, the free 50kW DC fast charger at the university down the road (that I would usually take advantage of) is out of order indefinitely.

Behind the C40's steering wheel is a 12.0-inch digital instrument cluster. (Image: Justin Hilliard) Behind the C40's steering wheel is a 12.0-inch digital instrument cluster. (Image: Justin Hilliard)

Hello, plan B. After some time intensely researching my charging options, I stumbled upon an even better solution. Granted they’re not 600m away, but I found three new 100kW DC fast chargers (Type 2 CCS) at a shopping centre that’s only 10 minutes away from home.

But what I didn’t expect is how reliable they’d be. The Chargefox units in question are part of the emerging Engie network and are yet to fail me during my weekly visits, which is something I can’t say about the various experiences I had with my previous go-to, which was of the ChargePoint variety.

Either way, once I figured out where to go instead, charging became far more efficient. That’s a pretty good outcome, if you ask me.

So, what else do you get for your money? Well, the C40 Recharge Twin Motors comes with a long and impressive list of standard equipment, starting with metallic paintwork ('Fjord Blue' in my test vehicle’s case), 'Pixel LED' headlights, dusk-sensing lights, rain-sensing wipers, auto-folding side mirrors with black accents, 20-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels (with a five-spoke design), keyless entry, privacy glass and a power-operated tailgate. Good start, hey?

  • The C40's heated sports steering wheel has a vinyl wrap. (Image: Justin Hilliard) The C40's heated sports steering wheel has a vinyl wrap. (Image: Justin Hilliard)
  • The C40 features a 'Fusion Microtech'/'Textile' trim on the front and rear heated seats. (Image: Justin Hilliard) The C40 features a 'Fusion Microtech'/'Textile' trim on the front and rear heated seats. (Image: Justin Hilliard)

Inside, the portrait-style 9.0-inch touchscreen is powered by Google’s Android Automotive multimedia system. It still supports Apple CarPlay, but it’s wired only despite the inclusion of a wireless charger.

That said, Google Maps satellite navigation is built-in. There’s also a banging 600W Harman Kardon sound system with 13 speakers to go alongside the digital radio.

And it’s hard to ignore the illuminated topographic dashboard and door inserts, which are the stars of the ‘ambient lighting’ show.

Then there’s a 12.0-inch digital instrument cluster, dual-zone climate control and auto-dimming mirrors, but no leather upholstery – you get 'Fusion Microtech'/'Textile' trim on the front (power adjustable) and rear heated seats instead, while the heated sports steering wheel has a vinyl wrap.

The C40's safety is well-covered, including rear cross-traffic alert and rear AEB. (Image: Justin Hilliard) The C40's safety is well-covered, including rear cross-traffic alert and rear AEB. (Image: Justin Hilliard)

Safety is also well-covered, with eight airbags (dual front, side and curtain, plus a front centre and driver’s knee) fitted alongside a suite of advanced driver-assist systems, including autonomous emergency braking (with pedestrian and cyclist detection), lane-keep and steering assist, adaptive cruise control (with stop and go functionality), traffic sign recognition, high-beam assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, rear AEB, surround-view cameras, parking sensors and tyre pressure monitoring.

It’s no surprise, then, that ANCAP awarded the C40 Recharge its maximum five-star safety rating in 2022, the car scoring 92 per cent for Adult Occupant Protection, 89 per cent for Child Occupant Protection, 70 per cent for Vulnerable Road User Protection, and 91 per cent for Safety Assist. Needless to say, that’s a strong set of scores, as you’d expect from a Volvo model.

The ownership experience is also impressive, with the C40 Recharge Twin Motor coming with Volvo Australia’s five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, while its battery is covered by a separate eight-year/160,000km term.

Both are on par for the premium segment these days. Roadside assistance is available for an impressive eight years, though.

ANCAP awarded the C40 Recharge its maximum five-star safety rating in 2022. (Image: Justin Hilliard) ANCAP awarded the C40 Recharge its maximum five-star safety rating in 2022. (Image: Justin Hilliard)

Servicing-wise, intervals are long at every 24 months or 30,000km, whichever comes first. Frankly, that’s where they should be for an EV, but too many other brands get that wrong, so well done to Volvo for doing the sensible thing.

And to really tickle me pink, the first service is free, while successive visits average out at about $200. Nice.

So, there you have it. The C40 Recharge Twin Motor offers compelling value, and that will become even truer when MY24 deliveries begin later this year.

But there’s plenty more to this story, and for that you’ll have to stay tuned for the second instalment of this long-term UrbanGuide review. See you next month!

Acquired: May 8, 2023

Distance travelled this month: 789km

Odometer: 6990km

Average energy consumption this month: 22.7kWh/100km

$82,990 - $99,605

Based on 13 car listings in the last 6 months

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