One Tough Cookie: Ferdi tests the Volvo C40

Yesterday was World Children's Day - which is why we had a Volvo C40 tested. And it was done by a four-year-old with an elk under his arm. Because no one puts a car under a more critical microscope. His verdict on the Volvo C40? Read it here. Admittedly, we've given the whole thing a bit of a makeover.
Text Patricia Jell
Photo Christian Bittmann

He’s incorruptible (as long as there’s no chocolate involved), brutally honest and easily bored. All in all, that should make this four-year-old the toughest car tester ever. Which is exactly why we let him loose on the all-electric Volvo C40.

408 hp, 660 Nm of maximum torque, two electric motors, 78 kWh high-voltage battery, range of up to 420 kilometers, 100 km/h in 4.7 seconds – the technical specifications of the Volvo C40 Recharge Pure Electric, the first Volvo to be available exclusively in an electric version, are impressive. But Ferdi doesn’t care about all that. He’s currently curled up in the “frunk”, the front trunk storage space of the all-electric crossover SUV, with thirty-one liters of space. Enough for a forty-pound four-year-old. Plus stuffed moose.

Lid down and goodbye Ferdi.

Volvo invited the international motoring press to the launch of the C40 in Ghent, Belgium, where the new electric SUV is being manufactured. Ferdi joined us straight from kindergarten. His mission: to test whatever he can and whatever he feels like. On the first leg of our journey from Brussels to the Belgian university town, Ferdi’s attention is completely focused on the infotainment system. Which, in the C40, is Android-based so that services like Google Maps or Google Assistant are already on board ex works and operation is completely intuitive thanks to voice activation. Just say, “Hey, Google!” “This Google thing is really cool,” says Ferdi. It can find Fireman Sam and PAW Patrol in mere seconds and obeys his every command.

“This Google thing is really cool,” says Ferdi. It can find Fireman Sam and PAW Patrol in mere seconds and obeys his every command.

In Ghent, it’s time to check out the whole car. So we open the lid and let Ferdi out of the frunk, “my new cave”, which translates to total approval, because caves are just the coolest. Anyway, time to check out the next cave, the one in the back. Which has room for a few more stuffed moose – or the new blue bike, as Ferdi remarks. And he’s right. The trunk has a storage volume of 413 liters. A sensor at the rear bumper lets you open the tailgate without using your hands, which is great when mom or whoever has the honor of lugging the bike has to stow it in the back of the car. Everything else finds room in the interior. The extra-large door compartments have enough space for stowing the entire PAW Patrol in them. The interior could also be used as a playground, meaning there’s plenty of room for jumping and bouncing about and the seats look as if they could handle it.

Something that won’t interest Ferdi much at the moment, but which could become more relevant soon, is that the interior of our test car is completely leather-free, made with materials from recycled sources, which not only feels good, but looks really good to boot. “We wanted to bring the outside into the car,” explains Rekha Meena, Volvo’s senior design manager for color and material. And so the interior of the sleek SUV features several references to Sweden’s nature, such as the backlit decorative trim along the dashboard and front door panels, with a three-dimensional structure inspired by the topography of Sweden’s Abisko National Park. Seen in this light, sustainable materials are the logical choice.

The Topography trim panels are partly made of recycled plastic, while the carpet is made of one hundred percent recycled PET bottles – seventy-one used one-liter plastic bottles are recycled per vehicle. It’s pretty clear where this journey is headed; As early as 2025, half of Volvo’s global sales are to consist of fully electric cars, with hybrids making up the rest. By 2030, the Swedish carmaker wants to build and sell only electric cars.

You can definitely have a clear conscience when you pull out the C40’s 11 kW on-board charger, which, according to Volvo, makes fast charging at home and on the road child’s play. Ferdi agrees. Charging the C40 is easier than his Fireman Sam puzzle. “You can do that too, Mom!” Thanks. Mom could also explain that the charge level can be topped up from ten to eighty percent in thirty-three minutes at DC fast-charging stations, and she could add that, according to Volvo, the intelligent temperature management for the battery with separate cooling circuits ensures shorter charging times and optimum utilization of the available range. There’s even a heat pump on board, which also helps to increase the vehicle’s range. But Mom doesn’t want to brag.

According to Volvo, fast charging at home and on the road is child’s play. “You can do that too, Mom!” Thanks.

Ferdi, on the other hand, has no problem with showing off. He would drive back to Brussels himself if he could, because, as he says, he’s supposed to test the car and driving it can’t be that difficult. The C40 is indeed very user-friendly, thanks to the one-pedal mode that makes it a pleasure to drive even in stop-and-go traffic. Besides, the car is equipped in typical Volvo fashion with a range of sophisticated safety systems. And should the car ever be lent to a novice driver, the Care Key makes it possible to set a maximum speed. But that’ll have to wait for now. For the next fourteen years, the answer is still no. Ferdi sulks, but only briefly. Because Google is sure to know some cool audio books to listen to on the way back and because you can look up at the sky through the panoramic roof. Conclusion: cave in the front, cave in the back, holds up to jumping around, logo and everything else looks really cool, plus Google with audio books: two thumbs up!

Volvo C40 Recharge Pure Electric
Powertrain: two electric motors
Battery capacity: 78 kWh
Power: 402 hp (300 kW)
Torque: 330 Nm + 330 Nm
0–100 km/h: approx. 4.7 s
Top speed: 180 km/h
Curb weight: 2,202 kg

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