Volvo has just shown two new concepts it says are big hints of what its new 40 series small cars will look like when they start to appear in 2017.
The four-door sedan (40.2) and taller crossover (40.1) – likely to be labeled S40 and XC40, respectively – shown Wednesday in Sweden are the strongest hints at the new compact sedan and compact crossover the brand sorely needs to do battle with the biggest premium rivals in all of the crucial global markets.
They’re also the first new vehicle collaboration between the Swedes and Chinese parent company Geely, for its upcoming brand of cars also with global aspirations.
Production versions of these cars will replace the current V40 sold in markets outside North America, though it’s expected a new V40 hatchback/wagon will make it to the U.S. and Canada by the end of the decade.
Volvo says the upcoming 40s will be offered with a new T5 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid powertrain, using technology from the S90, V90 and XC90 T8 plug-ins, but coupled now to a new three-cylinder engine and 7-speed dual-clutch automated transmission. Expect that three-cylinder and dual-clutch to go into base versions of the 40s, with the four-cylinder Drive-E engines powering faster models.
But bigger news will be the pure electric-only model – a first for the company as a way to meet California’s EV mandate and part of the plan in, “leap-frogging many of the players in the premium segment,” says Dr. Peter Mertens, Volvo’s senior vice president of research and development. Volvo says the system being readied for the 40s cars is also destined for the larger 90s cars and replacements for the S60, V60 and XC60 on the Scalable Platform Architecture.
The company says the new Compact Modular Architecture, developed with Geely, “liberated the company’s designers and engineers to explore bold and daring new directions.”
First impressions are that Volvo hasn’t exactly scaled down the look from its large 90 series cars to the smaller body, with the 40s getting a handsome new take on the Thor’s Hammer LED lights up front. The XC40 concept also gets a trendy floating roof to go with its sharper angles. While the S40 doesn’t look exactly like the second coming of the 240, it has the makings of the most handsome small Volvo sedan yet.
None of this is surprising, considering Volvo teased these concepts on Snapchat and made liberal references to younger customers when unveiling the two concepts. The small crossover, in particular, will likely be an important addition in luring Millennials in all markets who are currently aspiring to own something with an Audi, BMW or Mercedes-Benz logo on the front.
The XC40 has been rumored to be the first of the new 40s to go into production, which Volvo confirmed Wednesday would start sometime next year. An S40 and V40 are due in 2018 or 2019.