More efficient than claimed, a nose for pollution, and a downside : We spent time with Volvo’s electric coupe-SUV, the C40,
1. It looks quite different from the XC40, in person
We tested the XC40 Recharge (the electric XC40) and yes, the two cars have similarities, including very similar looking from ends. The pictures don’t show it, but the C40 – as a coupe SUV – does quite a lot to differentiate itself from its brother in the flesh.
The entire roofline is one thing, while the dramatic looking taillights are another. For those of you who like coupe-SUVs, and place an emphasis on looking different from normal, boxier SUVs, you needn’t worry. There’s also another benefit, mentioned next.
2. It can go further than it claims
The official efficiency figure for the Volvo C40 here is 21.0kWh/100km, which isn’t super for a small electric SUV. But, the coupe styling brings aerodynamic benefits, and this is already significantly better than the XC40’s Recharge Twin Motor’s 25.1kWh/100km.
In real life, the CarBuyer team also bettered the C40’s official consumption figures quite easily. CarBuyer head ed Lionel Kong listed 20kWh/100km in his lots-of-slow-driving run, while light-footed tree-huggers Derryn and Julen nailed 18.6kWh/100km and 18.8kWh/100km, giving a real life range of 350km to 400km per charge.
3. It has an onboard air quality monitor
The C40 has an air quality monitor, and while this isn’t a totally new feature – we’ve seen it on Renault cars about five years ago – this is the most comprehensive one to date, showing info on all major pollutants in detail. Driving around in the C40 across 200km or so, we saw the air quality read consistently as ‘Poor’ all over Singapore.
Not that this is a surprise to us, since we’ve been blowing the air pollution alarm for years. It’s a good way of increasing awareness about the responsible side of motoring.
One of the reasons for EV adoption is to break the cycle of local pollution that cars emit: Driving around spewing out bad stuff while pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists breathe in the fumes. Air pollution is A Very Bad Thing, if you didn’t know, accounting for millions of deaths and the micro-particles can be found in our blood now, in newborns, and has been strongly linked as a cancer-causing agent.
4. There’s drama inside too
Besides the low roofline and sunroof, the C40 has a unique feature in the form of its backlit trim panels that stretch across the dash and to the doors. In the daytime, it looks like contoured plastic with strange patterns, but at night it lights up to reveal a lovely-looking design inspired by maps (topography).
5. You do pay the price for fashion
Coupe-SUVs might give you SUV usefulness with coupe style, but they also impinge on a significant plus point of SUVs – the fact that the high-riding position gives you a better, more confidence-inspiring point of view. Coupe style means raked windscreens, thick pillars, and less visibility from the cockpit, and that’s certainly true of the C40.
The huge 20-inch tyres also contribute to a jiggly ride. All this is no big deal – we see it in almost all coupe-SUVs, electric or not. The C40 does have some features to make your life easier though: A 360 reverse camera, and auto-folding rear headrests to block less of the rear view.