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Swedish firm’s first exclusively electric car is a swish version of the XC40 Recharge

When you think of an electric Volvo, the first car that springs to mind could easily enough not be a Volvo at all, but the Polestar 2.

After all, the two brands are very closely related, so much so that the Polestar 2 was originally intended to be a Volvo, until it was decided Polestar should be an electric brand in its own right and needed a volume model to follow the Polestar 1 plug-in hybrid coupé.

Having 402bhp in a relatively compact SUV is certainly amusing, but you wouldn’t feel short- changed with the 228bhp front-wheel-drive model.

While the Polestar 2 looks quite a lot like a Volvo and feels quite a lot like a Volvo, future Polestars are planned to gain a much more distinct identity. Meanwhile, Volvo itself is going electric as well. So far, it has built up an extensive range of mild and plug-in hybrids, but we’re still waiting for the big wave of EVs.

The Swedes have dipped their toe in the water with the Volvo XC40 Recharge, but now it’s the turn of the Volvo C40, which is the “first Volvo model in history designed as pure electric only”. 

That statement is true in that the C40 is only available as an EV, but it is also overstating the facts somewhat. The C40 is ultimately a ‘coupé’ version of the XC40, with some facelift tweaks that will appear on the regular XC40 as well.

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Future electric Volvos are likely to get a lot bolder. The designs for the pure-electric and hybrid models will diverge, and the alphanumeric names are likely to be scrapped in favour of more personal monikers. The C40, then, is a transitional model for Volvo but a significant one.

The Volvo C40 Recharge line-up at a glance

Volvo’s naming scheme has eclipsed Audi ’s in the past few years as the most impenetrable, due to the ever- changing meaning of Ps, Ds, Ts and Recharges. For the EV-only C40, it’s nice and simple at least, as it’s limited to the single-motor front-wheel- drive Recharge and the dual-motor all-wheel-drive Recharge Twin.

The trim levels are simple enough, too. The basic Core is available only on the Recharge. Plus and Ultimate are available on both versions.

Engines Power From
Recharge 228bhp £44,800
Recharge Twin 402bhp £55,550

Volvo C40 Recharge First drives