More and more manufacturers are rolling out their second or even third generation of EV, battery-powered cars that hold electric motor, not engines. The five-year-old CMA platform is still used by Volvo in their current EV offerings.

When the resulting car drives, looks, and feels good, platform flexibility is not a problem.

There is a lengthy name for Volvo's littlest EV. It's just barely. The rear hatch is so hot right now that it is so small that it is not even a blip on the radar. The cargo capacity of the C40 is less than that of the XC40, and the rear headroom is less as a result. You get fresh styling and a shot of personality in return for that.

The C40 has a fresher style but less cargo space than the XC40.
The C40 has a fresher style but less cargo space than the XC40.

Big coupe energy

The C40 Recharge looks trim and sharp from the front to the back. It is not much of a showy design, but it is generally very, very good.

Volvo dipped this one in a light metallic shade called fjord blue, which is sadly about as adventurous as the Swedish manufacturer gets. You can find a red, white, two blacks, and three grays if you scroll through the full range of color options. It's disappointing.

The C40 is trimmed and sharp.

Step inside and everything is forgiven. The interior is highlighted by a shade called fjord blue. I don't know why Volvo didn't pick a different name, but I love the result, a tightly woven cerulean carpet with a charcoal-colored hood. This is a really good Volvo interior. It is a great bonus that it is 100 percent leather free.

The tinted glass roof lets in plenty of light without the glare. You will think you are seeing something when the door and dash inlays emit a glow. The technicolor LEDs common on German luxury machines are a stellar effect that is less gaudy but still memorable.

One of the most disappointing aspects of this car is the eight-inch portrait-oriented touchscreen housing.

Android Automotive is starting to feel stale.

It's starting to feel like it's been there a long time.

But Volvo interiors always look smashing.

The Volvo interiors look great.

A laminated, tinted glass roof caps it all off.

The glass roof caps it all off.

Of course there’s a frunk to hold your charging equipment.

The charging equipment needs to be held.

Android overload

I was on board with the all-powerful in-car native flavor ofAndroid when it was announced. Polestar was also signed up by Volvo.

Things haven't changed much after years after the launch ofAndroid automotive. Major entries that have been represented on the smartphone-based Android Auto for years are missing from the selection. Most annoyingly, you can't use the phone-basedAndroid Auto interface, but at least Apple CarPlay is here.

The experience is basic and frustrating.

The non-customizable gauge cluster that only has two views feels basic. The features here work well. You will feel right at home if you rely on big G's Google Assistant, calendar, contacts, and maps. The navigation experience is top-notch, giving accurate range estimates to every destination, as well as suggestingcharging stops along the way. It is easy to find things and modify vehicle settings with IntegratedAssistant.

The range is adequate and often exceeds the EPA estimates.

The range is usually better than the EPA estimates.

Trust us, you don’t need more than 255 miles of range for most driving scenarios.

You don't need a lot of range for most scenarios.

“Whosoever holds this hammer, if they be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor!”

If they're worthy, they'll have the power of Thor.

Better than the Model Y? In a lot of ways, yes.

The Model Y is better than this. Yes, in a number of ways.


Those road trips will often be interrupted by charging. The range of the C40 has not bothered me in my testing. The C40 Recharge Twin Ultimate has an EPA rating of 226 miles on a charge and a combined miles per gallon gasoline equivalent rating of 87. The car I tested averaged 34.1kWh per 100 miles, which is on the conservative side. The car has an 87kWh battery that can give you a maximum range of 257 miles. I think that is a lot.

Over the course of multiple loans, I exceeded the EPA rating and found the range estimates from the internet to be on the money. I can't resist a little speed when I'm driving this thing.

There is a theoretical maximum range of 257 miles.

This may look like a buttoned-up SUV but it is actually a rocket ship. The C40 Recharge has two electric motor that deliver 486 pound-feet of Torque. The new Nissan Z has a sprint time of 4.5 seconds.

The addictiveness of the Torque is obvious. I felt bad doing range testing on this because I couldn't resist sampling more of the go pedal than I needed. The inner front tire scrabbling for grip made me smile. The power of the platform here is shown by the fact that you can drive it like that and still beat the EPA rating.

This isn't a sports car, it's an SUV. Handling is more engaging than you might think and, with one-pedal driving, it's a blast to drive. The ride quality is excellent. The C40 Recharge is not as smooth as the Model Y because of the larger wheels. It is calm and quiet in a way that only a well- engineered EV can be.

Not the roomiest EV, but there’s still plenty of space.
Not the roomiest EV, but there’s still plenty of space.

Security and luxury

The door test is a bit dated and an inaccurate method of determining a car's quality, but just the same, slamming any of the four doors shut on the C40 sounds like you're seals a vault You can feel it in your chest. You can feel it in the back of your head if you sit in the back seat. Short adults and kids won't complain about the lack of rear seat headroom because of the crop roof.

The platform's solidity makes it a good location for a sound system. Even if you do BYO audio from another service, the car sounds great after a little tuning to make sure the highs don't get drowned out by the subs.

The giant volume knob is my favorite part of the sound system and Volvo still kindly puts it in all of its cars. The knob has enough weight that it can spin counterclockwise to amplify the sound. I wonder why more manufacturers don't include dedicated play buttons, as I use them all the time on any Volvo I test.

The sound system is particularly excellent.
The sound system is particularly excellent.

Pricing and competition

The Ultimate package includes a sound system, glass panoramic roof, and a dozen other features. Volvo has an active safety system called Pilot Assist, which includes adaptive cruise with lane- keep assist and automatic emergency braking. The heat pump and the camera help you with parking.

The fjord blue paint is more expensive. You can get the car pictured here for $60,540 if you add on the destination charge. It is dear for such a small SUV, even if you compare it to Volvos gas-powered flavors. The Ultimate version of the XC40 B5 burns gas and makes do with less than half the power.

What if you think about a car? A lot of people will cross-shop since the Model Y is larger. You'll pay for it if you compare the range of the Long Range to the range of theTesla. The model Y long range starts at $65,990. The C40 Recharge is a better buy because of the questionable behavior of autopilot, the reduced ride quality, and the low rent interior.

The C40 is not a cheap car, not by a long shot, but it performs so well that you won't mind the mediocre range and lackluster infotainment. It is a car that is so clean, calm, and competent that you feel better as soon as you close that vault-like door. I launched forward, grinning like a hellion.

Tim Stevens is a photographer.