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Volvo uncovers small-car future

Life begins at 40: Volvo will offer both battery electric and new plug-in hybrid powertrains in its forthcoming 40-series models.

Concepts preview Volvo’s 40-series models that will roll out from early 2018

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Volvo logo19 May 2016

VOLVO has ripped the covers off a pair of concepts that preview its future small-car range due in Australia from early 2018.

Dubbed Concept 40.1 and 40.2, the pair mark the official launch of Volvo’s global small-car strategy that will be underpinned by the Chinese-owned Swedish car-maker’s new Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) platform and include optional full electric and plug-in hybrid drivetrains.

The 40 series family of small cars will incorporate the XC40 crossover, a small sedan that is likely to resurrect the S40 nameplate and a replacement for the V40 hatch.

GoAuto understands that the XC40 will be the first 40-series model to market in early 2018, and will go up against a growing number of premium compact SUV rivals including the Audi Q2 and Q3, BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA, Mini Countryman and the upcoming Infiniti QX30.

The S40 will battle Audi’s popular A3 sedan and Benz’s CLA, as well as small sedan that are expected from BMW and Lexus in the coming years.

A replacement for the V40 hatch is also part of the 40-series family, but it is unclear where this and the S40 fit into the launch plan.

As part of Volvo’s recently announced plan to sell one million electrified vehicles globally by 2025, the 40-series models will be offered with both a pure battery electric powertrain and a Twin Engine plug-in hybrid system.

The T5 hybrid will differ from the all-wheel drive T8 system found in the XC90 SUV, with a three-cylinder petrol engine matched with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission driving the front wheels.

Performance and fuel economy figures are yet to be released and Volvo is also yet to detail the full battery electric vehicle drivetrain.

Despite a lack of government incentives and charging infrastructure for electrified vehicles Down Under, Volvo Car Australia director of corporate and PR Greg Bosnich told GoAuto that the company “would very much be interested” in the EV.

Volvo Car Australia managing director Kevin McCann said the new small-car range would “improve and broaden” the company’s presence in Australia and globally, and added that the new architecture gives it an advantage over its rivals.

“By taking a modular approach to both vehicle architecture and powertrain development we have succeeded in leap-frogging many of the players in the prestige segment,” he said.

“Our new battery electric powertrain variant opens yet another exciting chapter in the unfolding Volvo story.”

From the B-pillar forward, the two concepts carry similar designs, highlighted by the company’s signature Thor’s hammer LED daytime running lights and wide grille.

The 40.1 has a classic crossover body style and is almost certain to preview the XC40 compact SUV.

It features a deeper grille and more aggressive styling at the front end with large lower air intakes and body cladding running around the lower section of the car.

The 40.1 kicks up at the rear third-quarter for a bold C-pillar and the tail-lights are reminiscent of the Nissan Juke, but with a distinctly Volvo flavour.

The 40.2 looks like a jacked-up small sedan, similar to the S60 Cross Country that Volvo launched in some markets to varying degrees of success last year.

Like the 40.1, it has a raised ride height but features a slim-line grille up front and different lower air intake styling, while the 40.2’s LED tail-lights follow the signature of the forthcoming S90 large sedan.

Volvo says the 40-series will be offered with a “full range” of connectivity services, “the world’s most advanced standard package of safety features” and Scandinavian interior design. The car-maker has not released any images of the cabin.

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