Two new concepts preview the company’s next-generation compact cars

A successful manufacturer in the 1970s and especially in the 1980s, Volvo Cars has been struggling to keep up with more mainstream premium car makers for more than three decades. Sold by the Volvo Group to Ford in 1999, the automobile division continued to struggle under American ownership and was eventually bought by Geely in 2010. The Chinese automaker invested heavily in the Swedish brand and Volvo rolled out products such as the second-gen XC90 and the S90, two vehicles that seemingly have what it takes to take on the big boys of the premium market.

What’s more, Volvo began working on a new platform for smaller, compact cars, promising to develop new, exciting models. The first results of the new Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) was just unveiled to the world in the form of two concept cars wearing the same "Concept 40" name and, from the looks of it, Volvo will keep its promise and expand its lineup with new cars that are both good-looking and efficient.

“Each member of our product family has its own distinct character, just like the members of a real family. CMA has helped us to capture something special, something youthful in our new concept cars. They have an energy, a disruptive and engaging urban character that makes them stand out amongst the crowd. This is the flavor of small Volvos to come,” said Thomas Ingenlath, senior vice president of design at Volvo Car Group.

Dubbed Concept 40.1 and Concept 40.2, the new show cars are very likely to preview the third-generation S40, which will revive the nameplate after more than four years, and a brand-new crossover likely to be called the XC40. There is no word as to when the production cars will arrive, but until Volvo spills the beans, let’s have a closer look at what the new CMA platform has to offer.

Continue reading to learn more about the Volvo Concept 40.

Exterior

2016 Volvo Concept 40 High Resolution Exterior
- image 676353
2016 Volvo Concept 40 High Resolution Exterior
- image 676354
2016 Volvo Concept 40 High Resolution Exterior
- image 676360

Not surprisingly, both Concept 40s feature a design heavily based on Volvo’s new styling language. Most of the trademark cues seen on the XC90 and S90, including the wide grille, Thor’s hammer headlamps, and C-shaped taillights, are there and Volvo managed to incorporate them into the more compact bodies perfectly. Sure, the show cars have a sportier and sharper design that sets them apart from the more elegant S90, but the production models will most likely be more in line with the rest of the new-design Volvos.

Not surprisingly, both Concept 40s feature a design heavily based on Volvo's new styling language.

Moving over to body styles, the Concept 40.2 is a typical compact sedan with a short decklid and wide C-pillars. It’s actually a notchback-style four-door, with a tailgate instead of the more traditional trunk lid. The sedan rides significantly higher than a regular model — its ride height is similar to the S60 Cross Country — while its roof sits rather low, giving it a sleek appearance. As with most concepts, it doesn’t have regular door handles and side mirrors, but the production model will receive more mundane features.

Moving over to the Concept 40.1, it looks like a baby XC90 with a slightly sportier attitude and a different rear end. The front fascia also features Thor’s hammer headlamps and Volvo’s new wide grille, along with a bumper that shares many design elements with the aforementioned luxury SUV. The profile showcases beefier fenders and side skirts compared to the sedan, while the wide C-pillar incorporates L-shaped taillights that extend well into the rear fenders at one end and toward the roof spoiler at the other. The tailgate is as clean as they get, with the license plate recess carved into the rather thin bumper.

All told, both concepts sport attractive designs and fit perfectly in Volvo’s current design strategy. Some of the wilder cues will probably be ditched for production, but if the XC90 and S90 are any indication, both the new sedan and crossover will be among the most stylish propositions in their respective segments.

Interior

Volvo didn’t release photos of the Concept 40’s interior and had very little to say about it, but we expect it to be nearly as fancy as the XC90’s and feature plenty of high-grade leather and Alcantara, as well as a state-of-the-art infotainment system. The production models probably won’t be as exquisite, but should have just enough features to give similar products from BMW and Mercedes-Benz a run for their money. According to Volvo, the new cars will also offer "a full range of innovative connectivity service" and "the world’s most advanced standard package of safety features and ground-breaking Scandinavian interior design." Needless to say, it sounds pretty exciting!

Drivetrain

2016 Volvo Concept 40 High Resolution Drivetrain
- image 676338

With Volvo having already switched to four-cylinder engines only, it’s not surprising that the upcoming compacts based on the Concept 40 will feature a range of highly efficient drivetrains. But, gasoline and diesel units won’t be the only options. Volvo says that the new small car range will also include plug-in hybrids, using the new Twin Engine technology, and an all-electric version.

Volvo says that the new small car range will also include plug-in hybrids, using the new Twin Engine technology, and an all-electric version.

“By taking a modular approach to both vehicle architecture and powertrain development we have succeeded in leap-frogging many of the players in the premium segment,” said Dr Peter Mertens, senior vice president of R&D. “Our new battery electric powertrain variant opens yet another exciting chapter in the unfolding Volvo story.”

While the all-electric motor is still a mystery as of this writing, the Twin Engine hybrid drivetrain has already been showcased in the T8 variants of the XC90 and S90. The system brings together a 318-horsepower, 295-pound-feet version of Volvo’s turbocharged and supercharged, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, an 82-horsepower and 177-pound-feet electric motor, and a hybridized eight-speed automatic transmission. Output will probably be lower in the smaller cars, but the combo should deliver similar performance and impressive fuel economy figures. Expect the all-electric range to surpass the 25-mile mark that is available with the XC90.

As far as conventional drivetrains go, the S40 and XC40 will probably get the existing T5 gasoline and the D4 diesel units. In the XC90 and S90, the T5 cranks out 254 horsepower and 258 pound-feet, while the D4 delivers 190 horses and 295 pound-feet. Less powerful gas mills and oil burners are also on the table given the smaller size and lighter weight of the new compact models.

Conclusion

2016 Volvo Concept 40 High Resolution Exterior
- image 676358

Volvo is in the middle of a massive reorganization as far as its vehicle lineup goes. The XC90 is already in dealerships and has received a lot of praise for its design, features, and fuel economy, while the S90 and V90 came to confirm that the Swedish brand wants a bigger chunk of the premium market. The Concept 40 is further proof that Volvo isn’t planning to stop here and wants to continue by challenging the big boys of the industry in other segments as well. Although there’s little information about the actual production cars to run by, the upcoming S40 and XC40 look pretty promising on paper. Should they be as spectacular as the company’s new flagship vehicles styling- and technology-wise, we could be witnessing the beginning of a new era in which Volvo will finally rebound as a mainstream premium manufacturer.

  • Leave it
    • Production cars will get more mundane exterior features
    • Not many official details available
    • Production nameplates not yet confirmed

Press Release

Volvo Cars, the premium car maker, today unveiled two new concept cars that move the Swedish brand in an audacious new direction and mark the official launch of its global small car strategy.

2016 Volvo Concept 40 High Resolution Exterior
- image 676352

Today’s newly-revealed 40 series concepts demonstrate for the first time how Volvo plans to expand into the large and lucrative global market for premium small cars with a range of vehicles that combine bold exterior and interior design with industry-leading connectivity, electrification and autonomous drive technologies.

The new concept cars will be the first built around Volvo’s new Compact Modular Architecture (CMA), which has been specially created for smaller cars and which has liberated the company’s designers and engineers to explore bold and daring new directions.

“Each member of our product family has its own distinct character, just like the members of a real family. CMA has helped us to capture something special, something youthful in our new concept cars. They have an energy, a disruptive and engaging urban character that makes them stand out amongst the crowd. This is the flavour of small Volvos to come,” said Thomas Ingenlath, Senior Vice President, Design, at Volvo Car Group.

Volvo’s small car strategy is an essential element in its ongoing global operational and financial transformation. The Swedish company is currently implementing an ambitious revitalisation plan that will reposition the brand to compete with its global premium competitors within the next four years.

Volvo’s new global small car range will include a pure battery electric vehicle as well as Twin Engine plug-in hybrid powertrain variants, in line with the company’s commitment to the electrification of its entire portfolio. Volvo plans to have sold a total of up to 1 million electrified cars by 2025 globally.

“By taking a modular approach to both vehicle architecture and powertrain development we have succeeded in leap-frogging many of the players in the premium segment,” said Dr Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President Research & Development. “Our new battery electric powertrain variant opens yet another exciting chapter in the unfolding Volvo story.”

2016 Volvo Concept 40 High Resolution Exterior
- image 676353

On top of their daring exterior design and electrified powertrain options, the new cars will also offer a full range of innovative connectivity services, plus the world’s most advanced standard package of safety features and ground breaking Scandinavian interior design.

“The new 40 series cars have the potential to improve our market penetration in an important growing segment,” said Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive. “An electric powertrain program including both a new compact Twin Engine plug-in hybrid as well as a pure electric car are central to the CMA architecture.” He added that the first new 40 series car is expected to go into production in 2017.

The announcement of Volvo’s new global small car strategy comes on the back of a strong start to the year in terms of sales and profitability.

The company announced revenues for the first three months of the year rose 24 per cent year-on-year to SEK41.7bn, generating an operating profit of SEK3.1bn and an operating profit margin of 7.5 per cent. Global sales for the first quarter of 2016 increased 11.9 per cent to 120, 591 cars. Volvo has a medium term ambition to sell 800,000 cars a year, up from 503,000 in 2015.

View the full press release Hide press release
Press release
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: