By Mark Kleis
Tuesday, Mar 6th, 2012 @ 5:03 pm
 
After a series of leaks gave the world a pretty decent idea of how the V40 would look, Volvo finally officially unveiled its all-new hatchback offering today in Geneva.

Unfortunately, Volvo confirmed last week that the V40 will stay on the other side of the Atlantic instead of joining the automaker's shrinking U.S. lineup.

That means that the V40 will replace the S40 and V50 in Europe only, leaving the C30 as the Swedish brand's only compact offering in America.

Volvo president and CEO Stefan Jacoby seems quite confident in the V40, boasting the following, "The all-new V40 is the first new model that is fully developed according to our human-centric, Designed Around You strategy. Charged with an outstanding set of high-tech features it definitely will give our toughest competitors a headache." Given the strong products coming from competitors, such as the Audi A3, Jacoby is setting the bar high for the V40.

The Swedish automaker is predicting 90,000 annual sales, with about 75,000 of those vehicles staying in Europe.

Looks matter
The sleek headlights and large glass liftgate are both variations on themes seen on smaller C30 hatchback, while a character line that runs along the side of the car, rising over the rear wheels, is a unique touch. Overall, the car seems to provide a clean and attractive counterpoint to the controversial look of the latest BMW 1-Series and the more aggressive lines of the new Audi A1, an image of which was also leaked today.

Inside, the V40 displays the same elegant and minimalistic Swedish aesthetic seen on recent Volvo models, while a "floating" center console is another stylish yet familiar touch. The big news is a graphic instrument cluster that offers a customizable layout and three different "themes" that prioritize either fuel economy or performance information.

What we know so far
In Europe, the V40 will slot in above its C30 but below its more traditional wagon-like V50 in order to give Volvo an offering in the increasingly lucrative and competitive premium hatchback segment. Upmarket compacts from BMW and Audi have long reigned supreme, but the segment is quickly becoming a popular fighting arena for automakers around the world. The V40 will square off against newcomers from Mercedes-Benz and Infiniti as more brands are eager to get a piece of the pie.

The V40 sits on a modified and stretched C30 platform and will measure about 175 inches in length. At its launch, it will only available as a five-door hatchback, but Jacoby has not ruled out the possibility of developing a four-door sedan version.

The engine range includes both diesel and gas offerings, including Volvo's first-ever diesel with CO2 emissions of just 94 g/km. For those seeking the most fun behind the wheel, there will also be a turbocharged T5 gas engine producing a healthy 254 horsepower and capable of accelerating from zero-to-62 miles per hour in 6.7 seconds. All engine versions feature start-stop and braking energy regeneration, no matter whether they are fitted with a manual or automatic gearbox.

The new V40 is slated to enter into production in May.

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