When the current generation of the Volvo S40 and V50 were introduced in 2003, Volvo Cars had its sights firmly set on younger buyers with high demands on sportiness and premium feel. The new Volvo S40 and new Volvo V50 are making a joint entry onto the market with considerably refined design. A range of new features further sharpens their competitive edge in the hunt for discerning young car buyers.
"When the cars were introduced almost four years ago, we emphasised that they gave buyers the properties of the larger Volvo models but in a more compact format. Now we’re taking this approach one step further by increasing the ‘grown-up’ quality perception even more. At the same time we are accentuating the differences between the two models. The new S40 moves closer to the Volvo S80 while the new V50 is more like the new Volvo V70," says Volvo Cars President and CEO Fredrik Arp.
Fresh figures from both the US and Europe show that the company’s focus on younger target groups has made a significant contribution to sales.
Buyers under 35 years up by more than 20 percent
It’s the figures for the USA that are most noteworthy:
- The proportion of S40 buyers under 35 years of age has increased from 23 percent to 45 percent.
- The proportion of singles has risen by 10 percent, from 30 to 40 percent.
- The overall average age of S40 customers has dropped by ten years from 50 to 40.
"What is more, the reasons for choosing the S40 are much more emotional than before. Today’s buyers speak enthusiastically of its sporty design and driving pleasure. We’re also increasingly winning the image and prestige match against our toughest competitors," reveals Fredrik Arp.
In Europe, the proportion of V50 buyers whose main alternative was a premium car such as the large German makes is now touching 47 percent - compared with 24 percent for the previous Volvo V40.
The proportion of customers younger than 44 years has risen by ten percent from 45 to 55 percent. And in Europe too, it is the more emotional reasons for purchase that are gaining ground among V50 buyers, more of whom are families with children than in the case of the S40.
Both design and technical refinements in the new Volvo S40 and V50 focused on improving the models’ already highly appreciated characteristics and on tackling weaknesses identified by customers, for instance when it comes to interior storage space.
"The design team exploited every available cubic centimetre in an intelligent way. The all-new design of the centre console and the door inside panels, for instance, has increased storage capacity and added even greater flexibility to the interior," explains Fredrik Arp.
Sharper driveline range
The driving characteristics are already among the most renowned strengths of the two models.
One new feature is that the T5 engine gets a performance hike of 10 horsepower, giving an output of 230 hp. There are also five other petrol engine versions available, plus a bio-ethanol Flexifuel variant:
- 1.6 100 hp
- 1.8 125 hp
- 1.8F 125 hp (Flexifuel)
- 2.0 145 hp
- 2.4 140 hp
- 2.4i 170 hp
Diesel engines, which account for 55 percent of S40 and V50 sales in Europe and 25 percent in total, are available in three versions:
- 1.6D 109 hp
- 2.0D 136 hp
- D5 180 hp
One change here is that during the second half of 2007 the D5 engine will also be available with a manual gearbox, offering the driver no less than 400 Nm of torque compared with the automatic transmission’s 350 Nm. This engine is one of the first to meet the expected Euro 5 European exhaust emission levels.
The E85-powered (85 percent ethanol, 15 percent petrol) Flexifuel variant producing 125 hp is becoming increasingly competitive. The Volvo S40 and V50 Flexifuel are sold in nine European countries and in 2007 account for 8 percent of these models’ total sales.
Now with active headlights
When it comes to safety, the new S40 and V50 come with several new features:
- Optional Active Bi-Xenon headlamps that swivel the light beam in the direction of the road when the driver turns the steering wheel.
- The car’s hazard warning flashers are automatically activated when the airbags are deployed, a feature that helps attract the attention of other motorists in the event of a single-vehicle accident in the dark, for instance.
- The brake lights now have the EBL (Emergency Brake Lights) function, which causes them to flash rapidly when the driver stamps hard on the brake pedal, so as to effectively alert traffic behind the car.
Audio system of world class
The new Volvo S40 and V50 can be specified with an audio system of absolute world class.
The most advanced of the three systems, Premium Sound, has a digital amplifier from Alpine, Dolby® Pro Logic II Surround and loudspeakers from Dynaudio of Denmark.
In the High Performance and Premium Sound systems it is possible to play CD discs with music in MP3 or WMA format. This means that the CD changer can store several hundred music tracks and give the owner access to his or her own private home music library even while on the move.
What is more, all the audio systems now come with an extra socket (AUX) for connection of other equipment such as a portable MP3 player. USB and iPod connectors are available as accessories.
One-third of total Volvo Cars sales
The sales target for the new Volvo S40 is 75,000 cars per year.
The USA is the largest single market with one-third of total sales, while in 2007 China will advance to second place owing to local production of about 8,000 Volvo S40s. The United Kingdom, Spain, Germany and Sweden are the largest S40 markets in Europe.
The target for the new Volvo V50 is 70,000 cars annually. Here 85 percent of sales are in Europe, with Germany, Sweden, Britain, Italy and the Netherlands being the largest individual markets.
"The Volvo S40 and V50 not only account for one-third of our total sales volume in 2007; they also play a vital role in reinforcing the Volvo brand. The new models sharpen their competitiveness in every important area and I am convinced that together with the new C30, they will attract even more new and younger buyers," says Fredrik Arp.
More dynamic looks and liberated storage space
A number of distinctive design cues take the new Volvo S40 a visual step closer to the new S-range look as first shown on the all-new Volvo S80. At the same time, the V50 approaches the new V-range and the all-new V70 without compromising on its original compact and sporty attributes.
"When it comes to the exterior, we’re aiming for increased differentiation between the two models. The interior refinements have focused on liberating smart storage space," says Volvo Cars Design Director Steve Mattin.
Starting with the new S40, the source of the inspiration can be seen clearly when the compact sedan is viewed from the front.
The new colour-coordinated soft nose creates a broader, lower stance thanks to a new grille with a larger Volvo iron mark, new headlamps and a lower air intake that sweeps across the entire front unlike the current model’s three-part design.
"The new, lower and more horizontal appearance radiates smooth power. This impression is reinforced when the car is seen from the side. At the rear, it is the shape of the new tail lamps and the new bumper that further boost the dynamic appearance," says Steve Harper, who has been responsible for the design of the new Volvo S40 and V50.
Sportier V50 grille
The new black egg-crate grille with its larger Volvo iron mark emphasises a sporty language. The new headlamps and the three sculpted lower air intakes are other details that give the new colour-coordinated soft-nose V50 front an increased impression of solidity.
"Here, we’ve created visual vertical elements in order to further emphasise the new grille," says Steve Harper.
Slimmer tail lamps
The lower part of the tail lamp panel on both the S40 and V50 is 30 millimetres higher than before and the lamps themselves have an entirely new graphic layout. The brake lights are now of LED type and the position marker lamps emphasise the car’s shoulders.
The new bumper features integrated reflectors in the lower corners and the lower, broader design language is supplemented with the more horizontal lines of the exhaust tailpipe.
"The improved shape and position of the exhaust tailpipes is a good example of how a little extra visual touch can create a highly potent impression," says Steve Harper.
Freeing up storage space
When refining the interior, the design team transformed itself into something of a liberation movement for storage space.
"The criticism of the current models’ limited storage space served as high-octane fuel when the time came to sketch the new interior of the S40 and V50. We weren’t entirely satisfied until we felt we had exploited every single available cubic centimetre in an efficient way," relates Steve Harper.
The team concentrated its efforts on two areas: the door sides and the centre stack.
The entire lower part of the front door inside panels was redesigned. The audio system loudspeakers were reshaped to free up space for a new, larger storage compartment with space for an A4 format book, an upright soft drinks can or a water bottle lying down.
As an added bonus, space was also freed up for an extra Dynaudio loudspeaker (only for Premium Sound), which adds even more spice to the audio experience.
Larger and more intelligent centre console
The already iconic super-slim centre console is available in additional decor versions such as the Nordic Light Oak real wood inlay, and the theme now flows smoothly with similar elegant soft curvature surfaces all the way to the rear seat.
The storage space between the seats has also been refined with the help of Scandinavian design tradition’s most renowned hallmark - smart functionality.
The handbrake has a more compact design, which in turn has freed space for more generous storage capacity.
Sliding cover and flexible armrest
The sliding cover over the larger storage compartments, in which there are also two holders that provide secure support for large and small cups, is complemented by an improved flexible armrest for the driver. This also has a built-in feature that the design team playfully call the "hamburger table".
"We’ve even utilised the small spaces that are usually simply covered over when they’re not housing controls for options or accessories. Now instead, the space has been converted into a handy compartment, for instance for a mobile phone. After all, the phone is not something we should be using while driving, anyway," explains Steve Harper, and adds:
"And on the back of the console there is another little jewel: a flip-up holder for a 1.5-litre bottle within easy reach of passengers in the rear-seat."
New upholstery and green highlight colour
New design details in the instrument panel and air vents also contribute to the interior refinement in the new S40 and V50.
The upholstery range has been expanded both at base level and for the more exclusive options, for instance with a new, finer grained leather. At base level there is a green ‘accent’ colour fabric with the poetic name of Spring Green.
"The green upholstery is entirely in line with the increasing demand for personalised choices by our customers. We started with blue and red upholstery in the new Volvo C30 , and now we are introducing green in the new S40 and V50. I’m sure it’s going to be very popular," says Steve Harper.