The Volvo C40 in the test: two engines, charged and ready for use

My daughter moved to Lisbon last Tuesday. She is disillusioned with the high rents here and the general lack of vision of the political master class.

He took her job with him and moved to a nice apartment in a large part of the Portuguese capital. I can’t wait to visit. She says there’s an excellent restaurant around the corner called Restaurante Clube De Jornalistas (whatever that means) that we need to go to.

My daughter joins her brother in the Iberian peninsula where he has taken a sabbatical from his job as a senior economist with the UK government to immerse himself in the Spanish language.

Interestingly, none of them have ever owned a car.

They always live close to inner cities, mainly use public transport or bicycles – and if they go further afield, they or their friends are more likely to rent cars. Car sharing offers like Go Car here are also a viable option.

It’s a different way of life.

I had my first car when I was 17 and haven’t been without it since. On the other hand, my eldest daughter, who lives in Manchester with three children, is more car-oriented – to drive to work as a nurse, organize activities for the children and holiday on the north coast of Scotland and France.

She now drives a Ford C-Max, which she “absolutely loves,” a sentiment echoed by a reader who asked me for advice on a new car. She describes her 10-year-old Ford C-Max as the “best car I’ve ever bought.”


The popular Ford C-Max

It’s a car perhaps overlooked by many. I remember writing in early 2011, after the C-Max range was relaunched, that while it still didn’t have the style or great handling of the larger S-Max, it “was a big improvement over the previous model was rather clumsy and unattractive”.

I signed off by saying that “for the sake of practicality, the C-Max deserves a lot of credit.” It’s good to have a real-life justification sometimes!

One thing the Volvo C40 Recharge doesn’t lack is style. This all-electric car, which has two motors in the all-wheel-drive test model, is said to be the sleeker coupe-like version of the hugely popular XC40.

This is a fast and decent SUV, capable of 0-100 km/h in 4.7 seconds, with the two engines producing 204 hp each.

It aims to be vegan-friendly and has all sorts of nice finishes in the cabin, including “topographical inserts” – which are like upscale Ikea meeting LS Lowry’s “matchstick men”.

Much of the XC40 has been carried over to the C40, as have touches of the Polestar 2. It’s a luxurious and spacious offering for both driver and passengers. Even the sloping roof and the panoramic insert didn’t bother me when I sat in the back – which I could easily do with my trilby.

Some of my colleagues haven’t had the same experience, but they must have carried giants rather than my six-foot-tall. The cargo area is more compromised compared to the XC40, but at least there’s an underhood boot for carrying the cables and other paraphernalia.

The dual motors make for a very confident ride – while the 20-inch five-spoke alloy wheels may look good, they don’t help the overall ride.

There are thoughtful touches of comfort all around the cabin, which is only fair given that you’d be paying €69,950 for the twin-engine test model. The total range starts at €53,730 for the single-engine version, including a €5,000 SEAI grant.

The 78kWh battery claims a potential range of 413km – but as always, that’s about 20 per cent optimistic. The on-board display showed a more realistic 350-360km after being fully charged overnight.

There is a heat pump on board to help with cabin air conditioning, fast charging and achieving optimal range when needed.

Of course, as with all Volvos, safety is at the forefront of the C40 philosophy. The test car lists more than 30 active and passive safety features. In addition, there was the first-class parking camera with 360-degree all-round view. The camera is badly needed as the tall pillars, small rear window and very enveloping seats limit your view.

I found the 9-inch center console a bit awkward to use on the go, but the main driver’s display was good.

The C40 was a comfortable car for a week, offering plenty of power and comfort without being overly large. However, the look was a bit artificial to me – and I find the XC40 to be a more honest offering.

Volvo has a very loyal following and I regularly meet another dog walker in Phoenix Park who now drives a V40 but speaks affectionately of his 850 from before. However, these loyal owners may try their patience. Volvo is often in the lower half of the reliability charts and recently only managed 24th place Which? car driver.


Happy 160th birthday from Opel

Opel is celebrating a milestone birthday

Opel celebrates its 160th anniversary this year. Founded in August 1862 by Adam Opel, the company started humblely by making sewing machines – then grew into a world-leading bicycle manufacturer and then a pioneer in automotive engineering.

After 160 years of success, peppered with innovations, Opel is now on the way to becoming a sustainable mobility brand that will rely entirely on electric vehicles in Europe from 2028.

Almost 40 years ago it was an Opel that I tested as an editor for a car column for the first time Social & Personal Magazine. The offer came from the wonderful Don Brindley, the marketing and advertising guru at the time.

Thank god Don, you got me on a long, long road with some wonderful adventures along the way.

The train to Spain: there and back

As well as opening the new Stay with Us coffee bar in Phibsborough we also have a Pinto Mexican restaurant next to the legendary Doyle’s Pub serving a great Scraggy Bay IPA from the famous Donegal Kinnegar Brewery.

Too many local temptations – but in six weeks I will be heading north and having a Scraggy Bay dinner in Rathmullan, the birthplace of the name.

It’s going to be a great trip – but I’m also working on a rail journey, starting with the ferry to Holyhead, train to London, then under the Channel to Paris to catch the fast TGV to Barcelona before heading to Valencia where my son is remains. Hopefully then via Iberia to Lisbon.

Your children will definitely get you moving. The Volvo C40 in the test: two engines, charged and ready for use

Fry Electronics Team

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