Volvo has outlined the square-set future of its 40 series cars with a pair of new concepts, pointing the way to a new XC40 compact crossover, with the 40.1, and a return to the compact sedan class with the S40, referred to as the 40.2.
Underpinning both concepts is Volvo’s new Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) which follows in the footsteps of Volvo’s larger Scalable Product Architecture, but has been specifically tailored to smaller cars.
Volvo parent company, Geely, also has plans to use the CMA platform beneath its own future small cars.
The new concepts represent a shift in thinking for Volvo, with the 40.1 giving an early look at how a compact crossover from the brand will look. Previously Volvo has only offered the V40 Cross Country - a version of the V40 hatch with raised ride height and black plastic bumpers, rather than a full SUV-style vehicle.
Similarly, the 40.2 concept marks a return to the small sedan segment, last seen with the previous S40 in 2012 - this time however the presentation of a sedan, rather than a hatch concept spells out the importance of the sedan-hungry Chinese market.
In profile view the extended rear doors of the 40.2 are clearly visible, indicating that the production S40 will deliver the kind of sprawling rear legroom favoured by Chinese buyers.
Powertrain options for the new 40 series vehicles are set to include a range of three-cylinder Drive-E modular engines including a new T5 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid variant.
Unlike the larger T8 Twin Engine in the XC90 however, the T5 goes without all-wheel-drive, channeling power to the front wheels via a seven-speed twin clutch automatic.
A pure-electric variant is also set to join the range, but despite confirming the zero-emissions vehicle, Volvo had little other information to share.
“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.”
Despite both wearing the 40 tag, both concepts offer unique styling, and do not share any exterior panels. Curiously both offer high-rise ground clearance (although the 40.1 rides higher) with the 40.2 sedan foregoing the usual ground-scraping show car stance.
"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," said Thomas Ingenlath, Senior Vice President, Design, at Volvo Car Group.
"They have an energy, a disruptive and engaging urban character that makes them stand out among the crowd. This is the flavour of small Volvos to come."
Also visible on the 40.2 is an interesting cut line that runs from the edge of the boot, all the way up to the top of the rear windscreen, indicating that the sedan silhouette may actually be hiding a Skoda Octavia-esque liftback.
“The new 40 series cars have the potential to improve our market penetration in an important growing segment,” said Håkan Samuelsson, Volvo 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.”
While a production debut is still some way off, a five-door hatchback version is also expected to be included in the line-up, rounding out the range for those markets where a hatch is preferred, such as Europe.
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