There is a veritable plethora of options out there these days for those in the market for a premium small car. Germany invariably dominates the luxury end of the pile, with the BMW 1 Series, Audi A3 and Mercedes A-Class representing the top picks whilst the Peugeot 308, Vauxhall Astra and Renault Mégane are all safe bets for those with more of an eye on the purse strings.
Less likely to figure in the compact shake-up is Volvo. That was until this week’s announcement from Sweden confirming that the Scandinavian brand is looking to make big waves with a new series of small cars over the coming years.
The two concepts unveiled by Volvo form part of the new 40 series which will seek to launch the brand, known more for its sturdy and reliable estate and SUV offerings, headlong into the cutthroat world of the premium compact. Only the C30, with its distinctive frameless glass rear hatch, can be classed as a genuine compact Volvo in recent years but the new 40 series is set to change that.
Mapping out a battle plan to go toe-to toe with its aforementioned premium rivals within the next four years, Volvo’s 40 series will be underpinned by an entirely new platform. Compact Modular Architecture – or CMA – is Volvo’s answer to the downscaling conundrum. Specially engineered to accommodate vehicles smaller than its current XC90, S90 and V90 stable, CMA is a scalable and adaptable blueprint capable of accommodating compact cars of varying lengths, wheelbases and heights.
From this, plus the pair of concepts revealed in the press images, we can deduce that at least two and possibly three new compact models are already in the pipeline. A small crossover, slotting in directly below the existing XC60 mid-size SUV, is a banker, whilst a high-riding stretched hatchback in the vein of the 40.2 concept, glimpsed here with a panoramic roof, is also on the cards. Although not teased among the concept designs here, it’s a pretty safe bet to expect a ‘V40’ wagon to be developed from the same CMA platform.
It’s not just the architecture that’s under the microscope at Volvo, whose new global small car range will boast within its ranks a pure-battery electric model plus a twin engine plug-in hybrid variant. This chimes with the Swedish brand’s long term ambition to electrify its entire range within the next few years, including the addition of a large Volvo EV by 2019.
The new T5 hybrid powertrain, which couples Volvo’s three-cylinder petrol engine to an electric motor, uses a new seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. It supplants the existing twin engine AWD system from the larger models in the line-up with a front-wheel-drive-based layout for the upcoming 40 Series.
The first production-ready 40 series model is expected in time for 2017, with official confirmation of the new compact’s identity likely to come out of Volvo HQ later this year.
Take a peak at the video below for a closer look at Volvo’s 40 Series concepts.