Insiders insist the three-tier 90, 60 and 40-series structure will complete the proposed Volvo range. No smaller model is in the frame.
The XC40 will be the first Volvo model to utilise the newly developed Compact Modular Architecture (CMA), a highly versatile component set designed to be shared by future compact Volvos and Chinese-built Geely models. Zhejiang-based Geely, China’s seventh-biggest car maker, paid £1.4 billion to buy the 89-year-old Swedish car maker from Ford just under two years ago and has been laying impressive expansion plans ever since.
The XC40 will also be the first Volvo to introduce the long-promised modular 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine, which is derived from the four-cylinder 2.0-litre diesel and petrol range launched several years ago. The engines will come as both diesel and petrol variants, with and without turbocharging.
The XC40 range-topper will be a petrol-powered plug-in hybrid called T5 Twin Engine. It will use a 180bhp petrol version of the new three-cylinder engine, supported by a 74bhp electric motor. Power will be directed to the front wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, with the electric motor directly driving the gearbox shaft that carries second, fourth and sixth gears. The XC40 T5 Twin Engine will have a battery-only range of about 30 miles.
The T5 Twin Engine layout differs from the T8 Twin Engine set-up already offered with Volvo’s larger XC90 SUV, whose petrol engine drives the front wheels while the electric motor sends power to the rears to give four-wheel drive. Volvo says it won’t release fuel economy and CO2 figures until next year but is confident of leading the compact SUV class, which includes models such as the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA.
“If we’re not class-leading, we’ll have done something wrong,” said Volvo powertrain boss Michael Fleiss. The most efficient X1 has figures of 109g/km of CO2 and 68.9mpg combined.
Volvo plans to concentrate on plug-in hybrids because it believes their viable batteryonly range will most suit future inner-city clean-air legislation.
However, the car maker is also hinting at a fully electric 40-series model using CMA architecture, to follow an XC90-based battery model already on the books for 2019.