Volvo Electric drive is in full swing in Mzansi with models like the C40 and CX40 getting full electric drive technology designed to appeal to more sceptics. We drove both models to find out if its the right time to jump into the EV wagon.
In terms of looks the front of both models looks the same which is something I feel Volvo needed to have done differently as the C40 is the newer model of the two. With its Coupe design, one would have expected a more unique front design.
Not that the design is bad considering even the age, the front still looks eye catching. Because it’s an EV, instead of the open grille, there is a closed panel in body colour which makes it easy to differentiate with the ICE (turbo engines) models.
Matrix LED headlights work a treat at night allowing both sides of the road to get high beam illumination without blinding oncoming cars or cars in front of you. This proved a very important safety feature especially when it rained at night.
The C40 differs from the XC40 on the sides but both models came with stylish 20″ 5-Spoke Black Diamond Cut that come standard. As the C40 is a Coupe SUV, it gets the slopping roof which drew positive comments especially from ladies.
At the rear, the C40 takes a unique design with C shaped LED taillights that extend nicely into the boot lid. Reflector lamps are neatly integrated into the bumper whilst the split rear spoiler sits atop the rear screen. The rear screen looks good but it’s a very huge hassle to see out of when driving. Even the rear view parking camera proved useless as its placed too low to allow ease of view at the back.
The XC40 takes the design as seen on other XC40 models with boomerang design LED tail lights and a more upright rear roof design. This allows much better rear view when driving but the C40 wins on the style front. The XC40 wins on the practicality front though with larger boot capacity.
The C40 also loses a bit on the rear headroom inside but it’s nothing to complain about as the large panoramic sun roof creates a spacious feel inside. The C40 does without a sun blind but the tint proved ok for sunny driving however when parked in the sun for long, one does feel the heat much quicker than in the XC40 which comes with a sun blind. Both models (C40 & XC40) share a similar rear set up meaning rear legroom is adequate and also proved good for baby chairs.
Up front, both models share a similar layout with comfy electrically adjusted chairs with heating function. The suede/leather combination proved very comfortable but does require care in terms of cleanliness.
The dash layout is also similar for both models. This layout was trendy when the XC40 was launched years ago but competition have caught on with better functional infotainment systems. The C40 loses out as it’s the newer model and one would have expected it to gain a unique dash layout. One won’t fault the layout for fit and finish though as its top tier level. The instrument cluster and its steering mounted controls also feel their age needing a bit of frustration when using bluetooth phone calls.
Up front both models don’t have engines in the front meaning there is a load space which can also be used for loading groceries or the charging cables. Both models come with AWD with propulsion coming from a 300kW Twin Motor that allows both models to sprint from 0-100km/h around 4.7 seconds. Volvo claims 510km range but we averaged 370km between recharge with normal driving. Handling is safe with ride comfort one of the highlights allowing bad road driving to be a pleasure. The C40 sells for R1.3m whilst the XC40 sells for R1.1m. Take into account the low maintenance and low recharging costs and these EV models are worth a look for anyone buying a mid size SUV.