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Future models - Volvo - V40

Volvo to launch V40 in Oz with hot T5

Hatch match: The new Volvo V40 range arrives in Australia in early 2013 to fight for sales in the growing premium hatch segment.

187kW V40 set to give Volvo an answer to Europe's best hatchbacks in February

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Volvo logo21 Jun 2012

By RON HAMMERTON in VERONA

VOLVO has chosen to delay the Australian debut of its all-new premium small car, the V40, by about two months so it can launch with the full range, including a range-topping performance flagship that will go head to head with hot hatches like Audi's S3, Volkswagen's Golf R and the Renault Megane RS250.

Packing 187kW of power and 370Nm of torque from a five-cylinder engine tuned by Swedish race team Polestar, the yet to be seen V40 T5 will lob in Europe later this year before joining the boat to Australia for the range launch in February.

Other models in the V40 range from launch will be the 1.6-litre D2 diesel entry model, 2.0-litre D4 diesel and T4 five-cylinder petrol.

Collectively, the V40 range will provide a new benchmark in small-car safety, boasting the world-first pedestrian airbag that pops from between the bonnet and windscreen to cushion the head of a pedestrian in a collision, as well as an upgraded version of Volvo's pioneering City Safe anti-collision technology and pedestrian detection system that automatically brakes to prevent more serious injury to wayward walkers.

The V40 will be built for global markets only in a five-door hatchback style, although insiders say there is a chance of a sedan for China where the three-box designs are more popular.

At the European V40 launch in Italy, Volvo is keeping its powder dry on the V40 T5 that will not only take the fight up to existing hot hatches from rivals but also the upcoming Mercedes-Benz A-Class that reverts to a standard hatch design this time around, and a new front-wheel-drive BMW model to be revealed at the Paris motor show in September.

The V40 T5 will be armed with the same turbo-charged five-cylunder engine that graces the current Volvo C30 and S40 flagship models, but with more power courtesy of Volvo's racing partner Polestar Performance.

The hot V40s will get an engine management chip developed by Polestar to help take engine performance from 169kW to 187kW – just 1kW short of Volkswagen Group's 188kW 2.0-litre TFSI engine in the Audi S3 Sportback and Golf R, but with more torque (370Nm versus 330Nm).

Unlike those models, however, the V40 T5 will be offered only in front-wheel drive, but with special driveline technology to get the power to the ground.

The Golf R can power from zero to 100km/h in 5.9 seconds, and the Volvo hatch is expected to match that, if not beat it.

Volvo Car Australia managing director Matt Braid told GoAuto that although the T5 had yet to be revealed in Europe, it would be available when the new model landed in Aussie showrooms in the first quarter of 2013.

Mr Braid said VCA had learned from its experience with the Volvo S60 launch in Australia, when it went with the basic models first and introduced the flagship T6 R-Design later.

He said the lack of a halo model from launch had hurt the S60 initially, and VCA did not want to make that mistake again.

“We could have launched V40 in Australia in December, but we have held it over to February so we can launch T5 at the same time,” he told GoAuto.

This means the V40 will have a selection of four powertrains – two diesel and two petrol – from the start.

All with have fuel-saving idle-stop, but the entry level D2 diesel (84kW/270Nm) will come only with manual transmission.

The bigger 2.0-litre D4 diesel (130kW/400Nm) will have a choice of six-speed manual or six-speed automatic, while the two petrol engines – the 2.0-litre four-cylinder 132kW/300Nm T4 and 188kW/370Nm five-cylinder T5 – will come with the six-speed automatic only.

Full pricing and equipment details will be outlined closer to launch.

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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.