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Geneva show: Volvo to debut pedestrian airbag

Small Swede: Volvo's new V40 small car - to be debuted at the Geneva motor show this week - will get a world-first pedestrian airbag.

All-new Volvo V40 hatch to get world-first pedestrian-protecting airbag

Volvo logo29 Feb 2012

VOLVO has officially peeled back the veil of secrecy from its new V40 premium hatchback ahead of its Geneva motor show unveiling next week, revealing that the new smallest car in the range will get a world-first pedestrian airbag.

Although leaked photographs and spy shots had pretty much blown the V40’s cover anyway, the Swedish company formally announced that the new little five-door hatchback – destined to replace the C30 hatch in the Volvo range – will go into production in Belgium in May, armed with a range of engines, from a super-efficient diesel to a potent turbocharged 2.0-litre five-cylinder petrol T5 packing 187kW of power.

The major safety innovation – the pedestrian airbag – is said to pop out from under the windscreen end of the bonnet to cushion the impact of the pedestrian’s head against the glass.

Autocar reports that the bag will be U-shaped to ensure the driver has an unobstructed view of the road so they can keep steering after the airbag explodes from under the back end of the bonnet, which pops up a few centimetres.

18 center imageThe airbag, which is bound to be introduced across the full Volvo range in time, is one of numerous safety features that are expected to make the V40 the benchmark for small-car safety.

Volvo claims the V40 will be “the most intelligent and safe Volvo model so far”.

Like high-end luxury cars, the V40 will get Volvo’s pedestrian detection system that can also brake the car automatically, as well as a lane-keeping system and City Safety low-speed collision avoidance system that now operates up to 50km/h.

The new model has been confirmed for Australia, where it is likely to arrive in about 12 months.

The V40 will go head-to-head against the likes of the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series in a market segment where Volvo has so far failed to hit a home run.

Volvo Car president and CEO Stefan Jacoby has promised that this time Volvo’s premium hatchback will take the fight up to its rivals, with class-leading dynamics and safety.

“The all-new V40 is the first new model that is fully developed according to our human-centric ‘Designed Around You’ strategy,” he said.

“Charged with an outstanding set of high-tech features, it definitely will give our toughest competitors a headache.”

Volvo promises a fuel-efficient diesel that emits just 94 grams of CO2 – well under the current C30 DRIVe 1.6-litre diesel’s 104g/km and eclipsing the Audi A1 1.6TDI’s 99g/km.

The lauded T5 five-cylinder petrol engine lives on in the new V40, delivering 187kW of power – 1kW short of Audi’s 2.0-litre 188kW S3 Sportback.

Despite the power, the Volvo promises to be tardy by comparison to the German car, covering the 0-100km/h dash in 6.7 seconds, against the Audi’s slick 5.8 seconds.

Other engines in the V40 line-up are expected to include Ford-sourced EcoBoost four-cylinder petrol units, probably in the new 1.6-litre format that has just gone on sale in the UK in the Ford Focus. All V40 models will get fuel-saving idle-stop – with both automatic and manual transmissions – and brake energy recuperation.

Volvo said it is planning to build 90,000 V40s a year, with 85 per cent going to European customers.

Volvo V40 program manager Håkan Abrahamsson said the V40 would stand out from the crowd, with dramatic design and high levels of equipment.

“What you see is what you get,” he said. “The car boasts sharpened features and characteristics from larger Volvos – wrapped in a sleek, compact package.

“The car also has so many new features that it has an exceptional ‘density’. It has pretty much everything.”

Last year, Volvo sold 413 C30s in Australia, down 23.1 per cent on 2010.

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GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.