Exclusive images from www.autoexpress.co.uk preview the all-new hi-tech hatchback, which will feature electric drivetrain options
Volvo will follow up its successful XC SUV range with an all-new V40 to rival the Volkswagen Golf, Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series – and it’ll challenge its German rivals by offering not only a plug-in hybrid version but also a pure-electric edition.
The XC40 is the first of the Swedish brand’s cars to be launched on its all-new platform architecture, called Compact Modular Architecture (CMA). But Volvo plans to quickly expand its line-up on the new chassis, with the next model expected to be a replacement for the ageing V40 hatchback.
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The new V40 will look a little wider than the XC40 because, while the two cars are actually likely to feature the same width at the front axle, the newcomer’s lower roofline will give the car a more aggressive stance. As previewed by our images, the V40 will incorporate elements from the 40.2 concept, which was shown alongside the 40.1 that ultimately became the XC40.
The next V40 is also likely to adopt the XC40’s wheelbase, which is usefully longer than that of the existing hatchback. That should help the new car to deliver more room in the rear, potentially making it more spacious than the rival A3 and 1 Series.
The V40 is likely to have a more dynamic feel than the comfort-oriented XC40. Volvo’s head of research and development, Henrik Green, told Auto Express that CMA gives his team the flexibility to produce very different types of vehicles. “CMA is a good platform to build the SUV – the XC40 – but we can also build low, dynamic cars with it,” he said.
“XC40 aims for an urban environment, giving you comfort and also the commanding view in the traffic and at junctions. But we don’t have to follow this approach with other 40-series models that are coming.”
The V40’s engine line-up will include the four-cylinder D3 and D4 diesels, plus three-cylinder T3 and four-cylinder T4 and T5 petrols. Crucially, though, CMA has been designed from the outset with electrification in mind, and the forthcoming plug-in hybrid and pure-electric versions of the XC40 will be mirrored by electrified V40s.
This approach could help Volvo in the premium hatchback market, mirroring Volkswagen’s policy of producing a fully electric version of the Golf, while both Mercedes and BMW have opted to produce standalone EVs instead.
“In purely physical terms, we have to fit the battery in the floor,” Green said, “but CMA gives us pretty good bandwidth. Everything from the full SUV height down to fairly low cars is possible. We’ve designed CMA from the beginning to have plug-in capability.”
The first fully electric CMA product will not be a Volvo, in fact, but the Polestar 2 high-performance saloon, due in the second half of 2019. However, when the electric V40 does arrive, it will be offered with a choice of battery size and range, Green confirmed. “For each electric car, we will typically have at least two different battery sizes on offer,” he told us. “The base variant will be more cost-efficient, but with a slightly limited range, and then there will be a bigger option with a higher price, but more range and more power.”
Expect many of the XC40’s practical touches to make it across to the V40, at least on the options list. These should include the foldable boot floor, extra-large door bins (with bass speakers moved to behind the dashboard), the takeaway bag hook on the glovebox, as well as drawers beneath the seats.
On the standard equipment list, Volvo is likely to take advantage of the same economies of scale that it has applied to the XC40, and fit every V40 with its Sensus nine-inch portrait-layout infotainment system, as well as a fully digital driver’s instrument panel.
Green says Volvo might consider smaller models in the future. “You can probably do a smaller car with the CMA platform,” Green said, “but we’re not actively looking at that right now. So one day we may have an SUV that’s even smaller than XC40, but at the moment this is the exciting size for us.”
For an alternative review of the latest Volvo V40 Hatchback visit carbuyer.co.uk