Volvo has opened the order books for its new £57,400 C40 Recharge electric hatchback, ahead of the first deliveries early next year. When it goes into production this autumn, the zero-emission hatchback will be built alongside the existing XC40 SUV, which is already available in mild-hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric variants.

From the factory in Ghent, Belgium, the C40 Recharge will emerge with the new front-end design that will set the trend for future electric Volvos. That means we’re set to see more of that faired-in grille with the Volvo badge in the centre, while headlights with ‘pixel’ technology will provide the finishing touches.

Inside, the C40 Recharge will have a slightly raised seating position, which Volvo claims will help give customers “all the benefits of an SUV, but with a lower and sleeker design”. The car also comes with the Google Android-based infotainment system, which effectively works like a smartphone, offering Google Maps technology and Google apps.

Volvo C40 Recharge

Unlimited data will be provided, allowing these apps to work via the internet while also permitting the use of over-the-air software updates. That means the car’s infotainment system will develop over time, even if it does not visit a dealer. The car is also the first Volvo to be completely leather-free.

Under the skin, the car comes with a twin-motor electric powertrain, offering one motor at the front and one at the rear. Both are powered by a 78 kWh battery, offering an expected range of around 261 miles. However, the over-the-air updates are expected to extend that range over time.

Volvo C40 Recharge

And if any of that sounds familiar, that might be because the C40 shares much with the Polestar 2 spawned from a Volvo spin-off company. That too has two motors and four-wheel drive, as well as a 78 kWh battery. It’s also based on XC40 underpinnings, although it manages up to 292 miles of range in certain guises.

When the C40 Recharge goes on sale, customers will benefit from Volvo’s “drastically simplified” range. That means there’s just one trim level, offering goodies including climate control, a 360-degree manoeuvring camera and parking sensors at the front, rear and sides. The car also comes with a panoramic glass roof and 20-inch alloy wheels.

Customers will also get the Care offer, which covers items such as servicing, warranty and roadside assistance, as well as insurance and home charging options. Although the car is available to order now, the first vehicles are not expected to land on UK shores until the beginning of 2022.

“We call it the future of Volvo,” said Lex Kerssemakers, head of global commercial operations at Volvo Cars. “That is because our Volvo C40 Recharge is more than just a new car. It is our first ever electric-only model and represents a significant step in our plan to move online for the benefit of consumer convenience. It is, in short, a completely new take on a Volvo.”

Gallery: Volvo C40 Recharge