With a strong head start thanks to its excellent newcrossover SUV and sedan, Volvo appears firmly on the comeback trail, but it's going to need some smaller, more affordable models to cement its fortunes. Today, the Swedish automaker is revealing not one, but two hints of what's to come, in the form of a pair of 40 Series concepts.
The new designs pick up much of the company's new styling language seen on the XC90 and S90, but in fact sit atop a new Compact Modular Architecture, a smaller platform that will allow Volvo to accommodate both plug-in hybrid models and pure electric variants. The more upright, SUV-like concept, dubbed 40.1, and rakish five-door hatchback, 40.2, adopt a slightly bolder look than the models that came before them, with sharper sheetmetal creases and expected show-car-only touches like flush-mount door handles. Thomas Ingenlath, Volvo's senior vice president of design, says the new designs project a cheeky, "Hey, here I am, world, what do you have to give me?" attitude.
The first 40-Series models are due in 2017, and will likely rely on a small three-cylinder gas engine that's both turbocharged and supercharged ("T5 Twin Engine," in Swedespeak), backed by a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. As is common with this size vehicle, CMA will be a front-drive-based platform, although optional all-wheel drive is all but certain for a new model born of Scandinavian climates. When the new line fills out, it is expected to include a hatchback, sedan and crossover SUV. If the new models adhere to Volvo's existing model nomenclature, expect the sedan to be called S40 and the SUV to be named XC40.
After lagging behind rivals for some years, Volvo has committed itself fully not just to connected car technologies, but also to the potential safety benefits of autonomous driving. For its new 40 Series models, the company is promising the "world's most advanced standard package of safety features," and "industry-leading connectivity, electrification and autonomous drive technologies," bold claims that Volvo has already show a good deal of support for with its XC90 and S90 models.
In related news, Volvo has also confirmed it will build a fully electric model atop its larger Scalable Production Architecture that underpins the XC90 and S90/V90 models by 2019, which suggests the Swedes are finally ready to take on Tesla's venerable.