Volvo ventures into high-volume premium market with new V40

Article by Anita Panait, on July 14, 2012

Volvo is now back, and this time, the carmaker has transformed into a high-volume premium brand. Now owned by China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, Volvo is attempting to compete against other carmakers in the high-volume segment like Audi with its A3 model and BMW with its 1 series line-up by introducing its first high-volume premium car -- the five-door V40 compact hatchback.

Volvo unveiled the V40 at the Geneva Auto show in March and is building it using a platform supplied by Ford Motor Co., its former parent. The V40 is expected to replace the V50 station and S40 saloon.

Volvo has used "V" as a designation for its wagon products, but the letter in V40 is used to mean another thing as planned by the company's marketing executives -- "versatility." The V40 uses the same 60/40 rear seat configuration like other hatchbacks that could be folded down to create a flat cargo area. Despite that, Volvo wants the V40 to stand out among other hatchbacks, at least in terms of safety technology.

The V40 utilises Volvo's City Safety system that employs a radar and camera to detect and avoid low-speed collisions with vehicles as well as pedestrians. The current City Safety system could prevent or if not, mitigate collisions of up to 50 km/h, compared to the 30 km/h figure logged by the previous version.

The V40’s pedestrian detection feature, on the other hand, alerts the driver if a pedestrian is in front of the vehicle. If the driver fails to respond accordingly, the system will cause the V40 to automatically brake from speeds of up to 35 km/h.

If the collision becomes inevitable, the rear of the V40’s bonnet would be released and elevated by a ground-breaking pedestrian air bag underneath the hatchback, covering around a third of the windshield. Despite being marketed as safety vehicle, the V40 boasts of having sporty handling.

Aside from having that sporty look, the new Volvo V40 is also sleek and low. Because of this, it comes as no surprise that the V40 is likely one of the most stunning models the brand has released. Starting at the back of the headlamps, the wide shoulders, which have sharp edges as well, extend outwards mirroring the rising beltline. After that it sweeps toward the edge of the door in the rear and becomes an integrated “hook,” a design that many will surely identify as coming from the P1800 coupé.

That the profile has a sleek feel to it is due to the high gloss grille which is now wider and placed at a lower position. This positioning also helps highlight the ground hugging characteristics of the V40. On the front section, the LED daytime running lights have been placed in the lower corners to result in that blade design look. LEDs are utilized in a number of features as well that include the turn indicators on the door mirror, and the position lights and high position brake lights in the rear. Even the number plate in the rear is illuminated with LED.

In case you’re wondering why the exterior design of the V40 is so stunning, this is because it was done by Chris Benjamin. Benjamin is the current Design Director at the brand’s California studio, which is in Camarillo, in the north-west region of Los Angeles. Director Benjamin revealed that he wanted a car that would have wide shoulders and a high tail in a wedge shape. He added that he saw it as a mix of a sports wagon and a coupe.

The brand has been successful when it came to estates, and even some of the classic coupes, he said further. The V40, continued Benjamin, is a 3D piece of art that people can drive. Indeed, the V40 has the appearance of the two-door car and this is mainly because of the bonnet lines and the low roof. Compared to the C30, the roof of the V40 is lower by 1.1 inches (29 mm). In summary, the V40 is a 5-door hatchback that has all the practicality and functionality that customers look for in a Volvo.

Topics: volvo, volvo v40

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