Today Volvo unveiled two new concept cars that are, as US vice-president Joe Biden would put it, a “big f’ing deal” for the carmaker. Called the Concept 40.1 and Concept 40.2, the cars preview not only a new range of Volvo small cars, including its first compact crossover, but also a new platform that’s the result of collaboration with Chinese owner Geely.
From the outside, the cars give a preview of what the incoming small family of Volvos will look like. Their look suggests that the new production models, likely to be called the ’40’ family (so, expect an S40/V40, and an XC40 crossover), will take the new confident look established by the recent ’90’ family and inject it with a bit more youthful edginess. Think more along the lines of what Lexus does with the IS/RC line, rather than the ultra-conservative approach taken by Jaguar with the XE, or the “same-sausage, different lengths” approach taken by the German competition. Personally, I think the concepts succeed in that they’re both nicely edgy but still instantly recognizable as Volvos, although some angles are less successful than others (Concept 40.1 seems a bit high-riding for a mainstream model, a bit like the S60 Cross Country, while the rear door with the hidden doorhandles and the contrasting roof of Concept 40.2 make it look like it’s trying a bit too hard to be hip).
The technology side of the models is at least as interesting as what they look like. The new modular CMA platform is designed to support many different mechanical/propulsion arrangements, including:
Front- or all-wheel drive, internal combustion engine
Front-wheel drive, plug-in hybrid
Front-wheel drive, electric engine
What’s more, the new platform will be shared with Geely models, making it the first clear synergy between the Chinese carmaker and Volvo. It’s an arrangement that works well for Audi, whose A3 and TT are based on the MQB matrix that underpins many models from Skoda, VW and Seat, but still hinders Acura, whose ILX is viewed as little more than a fancy Civic. Will it hurt Volvo? I think not, especially if the Swedes ensure the mechanicals are as well-resolved as the SPA platform that underpins the ’90’ family, and is set to go under the new ’60’ family.
So, what do you think? Answer the poll below, and leave us a comment!