Published on May 30th, 2024 | by Subhash Nair


2024 Volvo C40 Review: The Brainlift Worked!

The Volvo C40 got updated and now has enough range to fully outdo the competition.

Last year we drove the all-electric Volvo C40 down to Johor Bahru and back to Kuala Lumpur. It was our first solo interstate EV trip (but not the last to JB, we also took another EV to Penang) and we quickly learnt the weaknesses of having a relatively low range of 450km.

In February 2024, Volvo Car Malaysia rather quietly updated the C40, showing us what one of the brand’s new “brainlifts” might look like in practice. To be fair, the C40’s ‘brainlift’ incompasses not just a software update but some new hardware as well. And since it’s impossible to capture any of the things they changed under the hood, here’s a look at what’s outwardly new on the 2024 model.

2024 Volvo C40 in Malaysia in Vapour Grey

The first is the colour – Vapour Grey. This flat-looking shade stands in contrast the car’s dark accent pieces, bright LED strips and creates shadows against the expressive body. We still prefer the Fjord Blue and Sage Green exteriors but this is a little more interesting than the Crystal White and Onyx Black paint options.

The lighting up front gets a noticable upgrade. Gone are the LED reflectors and in come pixel LED projectors with Matrix technology.

Another thing that’s new – 19″ aero-optimised alloy wheels with a dual-tone finish. These rims are said to reduce drag. They’re wrapped in the same Pirelli P Zero EV tyres with a staggered set-up – 255/45 R19 at the rear, 235/50 R19 in front. These wide rubbers are required to motivate this 2.1 tonne vehicle and put its 400PS and 670Nm of torque to the road.

And with that, it’s time to talk about the stuff you can’t see on the 2024 C40. The first thing worth mentioning is the new electric motor set-up. The total system output on paper has only gone up by 10Nm of torque. It wasn’t lacking in power before, so a small bump up should theoretically go unnoticed.

However, we definitely did feel a big difference behind the wheel. That’s because both electric motors are all-new for 2024. They’ve been re-calibrated to have a slight rear-bias, making for a more dynamic and and more effective transfer of power to the ground as weight shifts back during acceleration. The 2024 Volvo C40 still isn’t a sub-4 second car, but that’s mostly down to self-preservation and its sheer weight.

To be honest it doesn’t need to be any faster than it is as it already delivers supercar-levels of momentum. We have to note that the motors also seem to sound a little cooler this time, delivering a distant banshee-like wail when pushed hard.

The other aspect that really can’t be physically observed but makes a big difference is the battery. It goes up just 5% in energy capacity from 78kWh to 82kWh. However the advancements in battery chemistry, packaging, the new motor tech and of course some software optimisation now mean that you get 550km instead of 450km of range, a 22% bump up in effective range. Even with our frankly un-Volvo-like driving style, we were still quoted around 430+km on the day we returned the car. The day before that with slightly more reasonable driving behaviour, we ended our drive with 52% battery state of health and more than 250km of range quoted… translating to about 500+km of total range.

The 2024 Volvo C40 also now displays the range right underneath the battery percentage of the digital instrument cluster – something they did not do on initial models. This was probably one of the ‘brainlift’ items that was quietly updated with software.

Conclusions And Thoughts

The Volvo C40 was never a bad EV choice and in fact it was up there with the XC40 EV as high torque for the money EV options for those avoiding Tesla models. Now with 550km of range though, it completely outclasses any compact premium EV. Its competitors from BMW and Mercedes-Benz struggle to even breach 440km on paper and you have to pay close to RM200,000 more to get this kind of range from a larger one of their cars.

The fact that Volvo Car Malaysia isn’t thumping their chest about what an achievement this minor update is baffles me. Either their being characteristically Scandinavian about it or they’re too busy trying to clear stocks of 2022/2023 models to focus on the new car.

That being said, there is some room for improvement. The panoramic glass roof NEEDS to come with an OEM cover… Yes, it’s pretty heavily tinted but even my brown skin feels like it’s being seared under midday sunlight. Given that the C40 was one of the first EVs to be locally-assembled, Volvo Car Malaysia should have proactively looked at contracting a supplier for a simple suction or friction mounted blind for this item.

The other complaints are beyond Volvo Car Malaysia’s ability to address. The first is room at the rear. The C40 is truly a little too tight for 4 adults to sit in comfort.

Headroom at the rear is compromised due to that roofline and the bootspace isn’t that generous. In my opinion the Volvo C40 should have been a 3-door SUV in the spirit of the C30. This would have given it more character, a chance at being a collectors item and more differentiation from the XC40.

Besides that, the interior just feels a bit too plain and minimalist for a car of this price. Yes, the XC40 had quite a nice cabin but that was back in 2018 when it first arrived. In 2024, the C40 has virtually the same dashboard as a car that is now 6 years old. There needs to be more ‘pop’. An Orrefors Crystal gearknob or some real wood inlays from the 90 series cars would have gone a long way here.

Still, it’s not an unpleasant place to be in and the Google integration this time around seems a lot better and less buggy. We experienced no crashes at all. It’s possible that they’ve shifted to using a local carrier rather than a Singapore-based for connected services.

2024 Volvo C40 Specifications

Motors: Dual, asynchronous front axle, 2nd gen permanently excited synchronous rear axle
Battery Capacity: 82kWh
Range: 550km
Max power: 408hp
Max torque: 670Nm
Top Speed: 180km/h
0-100 km/h: 4.7 seconds
Price: RM288,888

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Written work on @subhashtag on instagram. Autophiles Malaysia on Youtube.

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