Volvo is launching versions of the V40 hatchback that are expected to help restore the automaker’s reputation for producing top-performing vehicles. At the end of 2011, a 254hp T5 version of the new V40 hatchback will be launched. Volvo had once been the favorite of fast-barge fans for the T5 & R versions of the 850 and V70. The T5 shares a lot of its underpinnings with the front-drive Focus ST.
Then Volvo will provide an all-wheel-drive version of the V40 T5 together with the front-drive model. As a result, the AWD model will form the basis of a more exciting V40 from Polestar, Volvo's tuning division.
According to Volvo's UK managing director Nick Connor, the V40 Polestar would require a minimum of 10% higher power than the T5, placing its output at 280hp.
But this may go up to 300hp. The enhanced V40 would then compete with rivals like the newly released BMW M135i that was driven by PH earlier this month as well as the Audi S3. Volvo has yet to finalize the pricing and the date of arrival but it’s likely to still be priced from £30,000 when it starts being available in 2013.
Official details of the hotter Volvos are expected to be revealed at the Paris motor show in September, according to Connor.
The V40 Polestar, when priced at £30,000, would make it much more affordable than the S60 Polestar, which will get a limited production run and it won’t be restricted to the one-off concept that PH had driven in June. Connor said that the handbuilt 508hp S60 Polestar would be offered for about £100,000. He said that he anticipated that there would be 'one or two' customers for this model in the UK.
When asked why he designed the exterior of the Volvo V40 the way he did, Design Director Chris Benjamin revealed that his goal was to have a vehicle that was a combination of a sports wagon and a coupe. He added that he wanted a car that would have wide shoulders and a high tail while sporting a wedge shape. This was possible, according to him, considering that the brand has had successes not only for the estate models but even for some of its classic coupes.
Director Benjamin sums up the new V40 as a piece of art, in three-dimensional form, that one can drive in. As design director, Benjamin is based at the brand’s studio located in Camarillo, in the north-west region of Los Angeles, California. The design is indeed stunning given that while it still has the well-known V-shaped bonnet, it now has bolder edging. Sharp edged as well are the wide shoulder which extends from the back of the headlamps, mirroring the rising beltline, and sweeps toward the rear door becoming an integrated hook.
This is not new though as it brings to mind the design of the P1800 coupe. Highlighting the sleek V40’s exterior profile is the high gloss wide grille. By being placed in a lower position, the grille also manages to put emphasis on the road hugging qualities of the V40. With the LED daytime running lights on the front section being positioned on the lower corners, it gives this region that blade design look.
It should be noted that Volvo utilized LEDs not only for the daytime running lights but other features as well like the turn indicators placed on the door mirror. There are also a number of features in the rear section that use LED like the high position brake light, position lights, and even the light used for the number plate.
Benjamin shared further that for the V40, the brand pulled the D-pillar significantly. This allowed the glasshouse to have that teardrop form, he added, and ensuring that the rear shoulder would become a unique feature. By lowering the height, Benjamin continued, the front section was improved and thereby enhanced aerodynamics as well as reduced CO2 emissions.
Because the profile of the roof follows a wedge shape, it helps with that lean-forward stance. While the rear tail lamps follow how the shoulders are curved, their being placed on a higher position meant that visibility is maximized. The broad shoulder appearance is still there, which many fans know is one of the signature designs of the brand. This was first seen in the Amazon models released during the 1950s. It was then seen against on the V70 and S80 after it was used by British-born Volvo design boss Peter Horbury.