Volvo has confirmed it will build a 300bhp, all-wheel drive version of the C30 hatchback and could link its new performance image with a return to the British Touring Car Championship.
This will be hottest performance model the Swedish brand has built for years, and the company is expected to ensure its exclusivity by limiting total production to less than 4500 cars over four years.
High British demand for high-performance derivatives means that the UK market has been market to take up to 40 percent of the total output, translating into 1800 cars.
The ultra-hot C30 will share its powerplant with the forthcoming Ford Focus RS, meaning a 2.5-litre turbocharged five-cylinder petrol engine. However, unlike its blue oval cousin, the Volvo will get a Haldex-derived four-wheel drive system.
Volvo has yet to confirm the name the new car will carry, but we know it will be sitting on 20-inch wheels with colour-keyed brake calipers, a special body kit and motorsport seats. The rest of the C30 range will receive a general revamp and facelift at the same time.
Insiders say that one marketing strategy involves selling limited batches of the cars in striking primary colours, with numbered series plates featured in the cabins.
Volvo is believed to be considering linking the ultimate C30 with a return to the British Touring Car Championship, with a front-driven version of the car powered by a bio-ethanol fuelled engine. A similar car has already featured in the World Touring Car series.