There was a time when all Volvos were rear-wheel drive, and it proved to be a key distinction from its Swedish front-wheel-drive competitor, Saab.
By 1998, as front-wheel drive became the norm throughout the auto industry, Volvo relented and Saab execs probably laughed over their smoked herring.
Yet 13 years later, Saab succumbs to the grim reaper and Volvo, now the sole survivor, becomes part of Ford Motor Co. Ok, the next decade wasn’t Volvo’s best as Ford uses Volvo XC90 platform to underpin its line-up including Lincoln’s answer to Moby Dick, the Lincoln MKT.
Ford dumped the Swedish brand during Detroit’s financial reckoning in 2008, and Volvo soon found itself under Chinese ownership of new corporate parent, Geely. But it’s proven to be a fruitful relationship, one where Volvo is free to be Volvo. As if to accentuate Volvo’s reborn goodness, the brand is once more embracing rear-wheel drive on the company’s smallest battery-electric SUVs, the XC40 Recharge and the sportier C40 Recharge fastback.
Having sampled the traditionally-shaped XC40 SUV, we thought we’d investigate the fastback-shaped C40, which shares its platform with the more practically shaped sibling. For 2024, both Volvo Recharge models receive revised motors, along with an odd update or two. They’re offered as a single motor or twin motor models.
There’s not much new here, except for the new 19-inch alloy wheels, which are designed to enhance aerodynamic efficiency, and look fairly good as well. There are also a couple new paint colors. But the C40 retains its unusual fastback shape, endowing it with a quirkiness that some former Saab owners might find endearing. Certainly, it’s a look that isn’t instantly appealing. But few fastback SUVs are stylistically appealing; there’s not enough overall length to make them the slick, sweet speedsters they’re trying to evoke, let alone sporty.
That said, it makes finding your SUV in the parking lot easy to find amongst a sea of RAV4s and CRVs.
The C40’s shape affects its practicality compared to its more sober sibling, but not as much as you might think. In fact, from cargo cover down, the C40’s cargo hold can transport the same volume of lifestyle debris as its boxy brother. It’s only the area above it that proves significantly different. This means the electric C40 should prove every bit as endearing as its foursquare colleague, and it is.
But the pair share interior accoutrements, which have been upgraded since the XC40’s launch. While you might find some leather in Volvo models, odds are it’s not, as Volvo is eliminating leather from its interior décor options.
That said, the C40 possesses the same interior ambience that unmistakably says Volvo. No other brand possesses its combination of slick, stark modernism and Swedish warmth. Its solitary screen handles all of the vehicle’s essential operations, and while its interface may not seem familiar, it’s easy to understand and operate.
The Single-Motor variant is the big news for 2024, and thankfully, Volvo placed it on the rear axle, not the front. In this case, it’s a 185 kW (248 horsepower) permanent magnet e-motor powered by an 82-kWh battery pack that provides 297 miles of range. With a top DC Fast Charging rate of 200 kW, refilling the battery to 80% from 10% takes about 28 minutes. Your rates may take longer.
But the C40 Twin Motor also sees updates.
Unlike the previous model, the 2024 C40 (and for that matter XC40) uses in-house developed 255-hp electric motor on the rear axle, paired with a new 147-hp asynchronous electric motor on the front axle that’s engaged only when needed, which Volvo says improves range. Its power comes from a 79-kWh battery pack with a top charging DC Fast Charging rate of 150 kW. But its range is lower, in this case, 254 miles. But hey, that’s 31 miles more than the 2023 model.
Safety and Technology
Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have crash tested the 2024 Volvo C40. But the C40 comes with an extensive list of driver assistance safety systems.
When it comes to keeping you connected, the C40 comes with an Android-based infotainment system with Google integration. A digital instrument cluster is standard; a premium Harman Kardon audio system is offered on the Ultimate model.
The return to rear-wheel drive is welcome, as it lends the C40 a balanced feel that’s mirrored in its performance. Steering is nicely weighted and the steering perfect, neither too slow nor too quick.
There is body lean while cornering, but it comes on moderately, getting more noticeable as you push it harder. Ride is comfortable, being nether too firm or too soft. The C40 feels extraordinarily refined as a result, no doubt due to its electric motor(s), as there’s no gas-fired explosion under the hood as there is in internal combustion cars. That said, the Single Motor model provides more than sufficient power, and its rear-wheel driveline is a welcome return to form for the brand.
But if you live anywhere that Snow is an issue, you’ll appreciate the Dual Motor’s added traction, not to mentions its far livelier feel. Yet neither proves to be a huge change — radical change is not this brand’s calling card.
2024 Volvo C40 Single Motor Specifications
|Dimensions||L: 174.8 inches/W: 73.7 inches/H: 62.6 inches/Wheelbase: 106.4 inches|
|Powertrain||185 kW permanent magnet electric motor, 1-speed transmission and rear-wheel drive|
|Fuel Economy||118 city/96 mpg highway/107 mpg-e combined|
|Performance Specs||248 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque|
|On-Sale Date||Later this year|
It’s great to see Volvo return to its roots of offering rear-wheel-drive vehicles once more, as the configuration makes for far more enjoyable motoring than most any front-wheel drive vehicle can impart. But even if such differences don’t mean much to you, one thing will: the Single Motor model offers the larger battery pack and delivers a greater driving range, advantages over the Twin Motor model. So, in this case, two may not be better than one.
2024 Volvo C40 — Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the difference between Volvo C40 and XC40?
Styling aside, the Volvo XC40 comes as either a gasoline-powered engine or as a battery electric vehicle. The Volvo C40 only comes as an electric vehicle.
Can the Volvo C40 tow?
Yes, up to 4,409 pounds.
Does Volvo still qualify for EV tax credit?
Not if you buy it. But it should possibly qualify for a $7,500 commercial lease credit.