[TEST DRIVE] Volvo's C40 Recharge is safe and smooth but slightly small
But Volvo is trying to change that perception with its first totally electric vehicle (EV), the C40 Recharge.
The C40 Recharge is also the first Coupe SUV model from the Gothenburg, Sweden-based automaker in its 95-year history. The company is a subsidiary of Hangzhou, China's Zhejiang Geely Holding.
The Korea JoongAng Daily recently got behind the wheel of the Twin Ultimate version of the SUV, the most expensive available, on a 100-kilometer (62-mile) course from the Fairmont Ambassador Seoul hotel in Yeouido, western Seoul to Paju, Gyeonggi.
The exterior of the C40 Recharge is very similar to the XC40, Volvo’s internal combustion engine SUV that was launched in Korea in 2018. However, the interior seems a bit smaller, as it is designed as the Coupe model.
One of the most notable features was that the vehicle did not have an engine start button. All the reporter had to do was get into the driver's seat, press the brake pedal, and shift the gear to drive, and the car engine automatically started. To turn the engine off, simply press the park button.
The interior was very simple — the EV only has a 12.3-inch touchscreen in the center of the car, and six buttons under it including an emergency stop button.
Driving was smooth. But the noise was quite noticeable when driving at speeds above 100 kilometers per hour.
Equipped with a 78 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery produced by LG Energy Solution, the electric SUV can travel 356 kilometers per single charge. That is a longer range than its rival Mercedes-Benz's EQA, but shorter than the Genesis GV60, which can run 400 kilometers per charge.
The C40 Recharge can reach a speed of 100 kilometers per hour from zero within 4.7 seconds.
Safety was practically guaranteed. The car uses the IntelliSafe system which can stop a vehicle if an obstacle appears in its path and keeps it a safe distance from other cars on the road. All possible safety functionalities are already included, so that customers don't have to pay more for add-ons, the company said.
A downside was the car's one-pedal driving system which allows the driver to use one pedal to accelerate and decelerate the vehicle. In the latest models from other brands like Polestar 2, the speed of the car decreases slowly when easing up off the pedal so that drivers can control the speed. But in the Volvo C40 Recharge, it immediately comes to a complete stop right away, which made the reporter feel dizzy.
The TMAP Infotainment system was convenient and helpful, as almost all functions were available with audio. When the reporter said, “Aria, please turn on the seat warmer,” the TMAP Infotainment system automatically understood and turned it on. The navigation system was very satisfactory compared to cars from other brands that only come with in-car navigation systems. Volvo and SK Telecom jointly invested 30 billion won ($24.7 million) in the system.
The SUV can generate a maximum of 408 horsepower, and takes only 40 minutes to charge to 80 percent.
The sticker price of the C40 Recharge starts from 63.91 million won in Korea, which is pricier than its rivals such as the Genesis GV60 and Mercedes-Benz’s EQA which both cost 59.9 million won.
But it is cheaper than in other major countries like the United States and Germany. The C40 Recharge with similar features retails for $60,540 in the United States, 63,440 euros ($70,100) in Germany, and 57,400 pounds ($75,600) in Britain, according to Volvo Cars Korea.
The vehicle is eligible to receive 50 percent of the EV subsidy from the Korean government.
Volvo Cars Korea had aimed to sell 1,500 C40 Recharges this year in Korea, and achieved that goal in just five days after it started accepting orders in February.
Volvo Cars plans to introduce a total of seven fully-electric models through 2025, with the goal of entirely becoming an EV maker by 2030.
BY SARAH CHEA [email@example.com]