A welcome return to form for the 2024 Volvo C40
For 2024, Volvo is introducing a single-motor model of their XC40 and C40 battery electric crossovers, available in escalating Core, Plus and Ultimate trim levels.
There were once two Swedish automakers, and they were very different. One was Volvo, the other Saab. And while they had their differences and their adherents, the biggest distinction between the two was the fact that Volvos were rear-wheel drive while Saabs were front-wheel drive.
In fact, a Saab brochure from the early 1980s extolled the advantages of front-wheel drive, while saying their cars could tow lesser ones with rear-wheel drive when they got stuck. It pictured a Volvo.
Perhaps that’s why Volvo executives were laughing over their smoked herring when Saab crashed and burned in 2011, a victim of GM mismanagement. By then, Volvos had long been front-wheel drive. In fact, Volvo's first front-wheel drive vehicle hit the U.S. in 1992, nearly a decade after the first one appeared in Europe.
Volvo aficionados can’t be blamed for missing their rear-wheel drive cars, and now it seems as if their long wait is over. For 2024, Volvo is introducing a single-motor model of their XC40 and C40 battery electric crossovers, available in escalating Core, Plus and Ultimate trim levels. And as is typical for such models, the solitary 185-kW permanent magnet electric motor is placed on the rear axle, meaning they’re rear-wheel drive. It draws its power from a 79-kWh battery pack, which provides 297 miles of range. That’s more than the Audi Q4 e-tron and the Genesis GV60. With a top DC Fast Charging rate of 200 kW, refilling the battery to 80% from 10% takes about 28 minutes.
The main differences between the XC40 and C40 are matters of styling, with the C40 having a bit less cargo capacity. But its fastback silhouette lends it a sportier air – or so automotive executives would have you believe. Certainly, its quirky shape is something that former Saab owners might enjoy. And for the 2024 model year, the C40 gets a fresh pair of shoes in the form of new 19-inch alloy wheels that Volvo says enhances aerodynamic efficiency.
The C40’s stylishly sleek shape extracts a price — but one must always pay more for fashion. The C40 doesn’t hold as much cargo as the XC40, but it can carry just as much as its boxy brother below the cargo cover.
When it comes to carrying people, the interior of the C40 is like the XC40, possessing the same sleekly modern cabin common to all current Volvos. A large vertical display in the center of the instrument panel controls the car's functions, and it seems easier to use than the one on pricier models, if only because there aren’t as many screens. The Android-based software integrates Google and Google Maps.
While fiddling with the screen, you’ll find the Volvo’s thrones to be supportive yet comfortable despite their firmness. As with many electric vehicles, the interior is spacious considering its compact size. Odds are, the interior will not have leather but rather some sort of man-made imitation, as Volvo is slowly culling it from their lineup, although leather seats are still offered in some trims. Overall ambiance is far nicer than the decorating of the first XC40 interior, which shares its cabin with the C40. It’s far more sophisticated now, and a quiet place to spend some time — quieter than you might expect from a car.
The silence comes from the C40’s electric motor, which adds a vibration-free electric driveline that’s incredibly refined. Given that a gasoline engine is nothing more than a controlled explosion, it’s little wonder that an electric motor will provide lots of instant torque, much like a light switch. It’s also about as noisy and vibratory, thus the feeling of refinement. Speed comes on quickly, and while the C40 feels fast and frisky, it isn’t as sharp as some of its competitors.Its balanced approach is very much a Volvo driving trait.
What you get in return is comfort, of course, without the punishing harshness of many sporty crossovers. Bumps are well absorbed, but some pavement can elicit a firm response. Body lean is predictable but not excessive. Still, it provides more than enough juice to keep the daily drive drudge-free. Call it well-balanced, with a bit of comfort and sport, like a great GT.
Of course, it doesn’t look like a GT, and that’s a good thing. But its shape is influenced by it. Just think of how easy it will be to find in the parking lot. It makes for a compelling statement in the EV market, one that’s distinctly Volvo. And the option of rear-wheel drive is a welcome return to form.
2024 Volvo C40 Single Motor
- Base price: Not available
- Powertrain: 185 kW permanent magnet electric motor
- Horsepower/Torque: 248/310 pound-feet
- EPA range: 297 miles
- Length/Width/Height: 174.8/73.7/ 62.6 inches
- Ground clearance: 7 inches
- Wading depth: 17.7 inches
- Cargo capacity: 18 cubic feet
- Towing capacity: Not available
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