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Next Volvo V40 Heading Upmarket

By raccars Published

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Volvo has been engaged in an image revolution. The new Volvo V40 is part of the brand's plan to go from safe but staid to serious premium class contender.

Volvo and Geely

Its latest product range features extremely high build quality, good looks, strong performance and Volvo's usual peerless safety kit. Upcoming projects include a new V40, among a series of compact cars. These are to be based upon a new scalable architecture called CMA, which is under development at Volvo's new Gothenburg research facility.

Volvo is planning to use CMA to underpin a number of new models, which means that it has to be flexible. Volvo is working with its parent company, Chinese manufacturer Geely, on the project, which will yield a range of new models for both brands. This means the platform has to be versatile enough to fit both entry level and upmarket vehicles so that it can be used by both Volvo and Geely, whilst also allowing for brand differentiation between models.

Taking the Volvo V40 upmarket

CMA will be used on the standard V40 and on a scaled-up, crossover style variant which will probably be called the XC40. The company is hoping that the platform will help it to increase fuel economy and so increase its corporate market share, as it has serious ambitions in the premium compact sector. The current V40 and V40 Cross Country account for approximately 110,000 unit sales per annum. The firm's chief of research and development, Peter Mertens, has experience in this area, having overseen a similar project for General Motors to create a platform suitable for use by cars destined for global placement at varying price levels. The result was used by the Chevrolet Cruze budget hatchback, the premium Buick Verano and the Vauxhall Astra.

However Volvo is determined to continue heading upmarket and the up-coming new V40 is expected to display a marked improvement in quality in comparison with the existing car. All eyes this year have been upon the second generation XC90, a car with much to live up to after the success of the original SUV. However the smart new XC90 has received almost universal praise in an extremely competitive sector.

The exciting new S90

Similarly, the forthcoming new S90 saloon, due towards the end of next year, is expected to compete with the BMW 5 Series, the Jaguar XF and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class - esteemed company indeed. The S90 will replace the S80 in Volvo's line up but will be a far more modern and stylish car, using the sort of advanced technology already fitted to the XC90.

Volvo has plenty of experience in making safe, reliable cars, but in the past few years has been putting considerable effort into improving its styling. The brand's current range is its most sophisticated yet and the likes of the new S90 are set to make it even more so. Spy shots of the S90 in prototype form show a more dynamic form of the company's current design cues, with a bold and purposeful but still elegant and restrained front grille and headlight arrangement. The S90 will use the XC90's SPA architecture and share its four cylinder Drive-E engine range, with turbocharged petrol and diesel units.

These engines demonstrate an impressive power output to fuel economy ratio - 99g/km in CO2 emissions from 180bhp leaves the BMW 5 Series and even the Audi A6 Ultra in the shade. Only the Jaguar XF gets close, with 104g/km from the 2.0 litre diesel. This should give Volvo a significant boost in the all-important company car market. The S90 line up is expected to include a plug-in hybrid variant too.

All of this means that the big German names, already being chased by Jaguar, are facing stronger competition than ever in a sector where some would argue that they've had it all their own way for too long.

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