Rear-drive Volvos return with new Recharge lineup

Electric XC40 and C40 get more range, better charging – and a completely different axle doing the driving

By Matt Bird / Monday, 16 January 2023 / Loading comments

The mid-life facelift used to be exactly that – a renose of an existing model to entice buyers in before a new one. Perhaps with some fresh paint options and trim levels as well, to look good in the brochure. In the fast-paced world of the EV, however, such piecemeal changes aren’t going to cut it, as proven by the latest Volvo XC40 and C40 Recharge.

Not only do they get more range, more power and faster charging (more on which in a sec), the single-motor cars are now rear-wheel drive – where they used to be front-wheel drive. Such is the way of the world now. If that weren’t drastic enough (at least to those of us more familiar with combustion engines – it must require less work with an EV), the new cars are the first rear-drive Volvos in 25 years. Everything since the 900 Series departed in 1998 has been front-drive or all-wheel drive, so welcome back to the RWD Volvo. Probably won’t be seeing crazy drift builds of these in 20 years’ time, but it’s an interesting swap nonetheless.

That Volvo makes no mention of any significant dynamic difference in the switch from front- to rear-wheel drive says a lot about how the C40 and XC40 were in the first place. These aren’t going to transform from torque-steering monsters into beautifully balanced driver’s cars, though early adopters to the single-motor models might still feel a bit short-changed. Especially with the rest of the alterations added in.

The e-motor is now of Volvo’s own design, and in the base model that means 238hp instead of 231hp. Which isn’t a huge gain, granted, though more range from the 69kWh battery – through better cooling – will certainly be worthwhile: the single-motor XC40 Recharge now does 286 miles WLTP, where it was 264, and the C40 equivalent can now reach 296 miles (previously 272).

Things improve further with the long-range single-motor option. For both models, an 82kWh battery pack takes the place of the 69kWh, taking range to 320 for the XC40 and 331 for the C. Charging is better, too, with 200kW now possible rather than 150 before. The biggest gains, interestingly, come from the all-wheel drive, twin-motor variants. Where those models used to have a pair of 203hp motors, they now also make use of the in-house tech, with a 249hp motor at the back and 159hp one upfront; combined with the long-range battery pack, an XC40 Recharge AWD can now do 311 miles on a charge, up from 273 before. Or not far off 15 per cent, which is noticeable. The C40 version will now do 315 miles, an increase of 35 miles. They’ll both get to 62mph in less than five seconds, too.

“These updates are another big step in our work towards becoming a fully electric car maker by 2030,” said Javier Varela, Volvo COO deputy chief exec. “Range and charging times are new key factors for more and more of our customers, and these improvements make our fully electric models even more attractive than they already were.” Great news for new Recharge customers; those who bought one of the first might not be best pleased, though…

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