The Volvo XC40 crossover concept has been unveiled at a special event in Gothenburg, which will be the first car to use the brand’s new Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) platform.
The concept, which is called 40.1, is a thinly disguised look at what the new XC40 will look like when it is launched next year. It was revealed alongside the brand’s V40 electric concept, called 40.2.
Both the XC40 and V40 will be built from Volvo’s new Compact Modular Architecture, which underpins both the company’s smaller products and those of its Chinese parent company, Geely.
The XC40 concept uses a hybrid powertrain with a three-cylinder petrol turbo engine working with an electric motor.
The 40.1 reveals that – despite carrying the same branding as the XC90 T8 – the XC40 will be front-wheel drive. The concept’s powertrain is described as T5 Twin Engine and uses a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, closely related to the existing 2.0-litre four-pot, and drives the front wheels in conjunction with an electric motor and through a seven-speed twin clutch gearbox. We’re told the total combined output for the petrol-electric powertrain is 250bhp and that it will have 50km – 30 miles – of pure electric range, but no other figures have been released yet.
Styling carries through much of the form language of Volvo’s larger products, with front-end design similar to the XC90 and an angular athleticism to the 40.1’s side-on profile. (There’s also a passing resemblance to a Citroen C4 Cactus with its cladding removed.)
Mertens says the hybrid powertrain is designed to improve environmental numbers, and that we should anticipate the T5 having class-leading CO2 figures. The electric motor is able to engage and disengage through a separate clutch that connects it to the transmission’s input shaft, boosting efficiency further.
“It’s a very innovative and efficient package, a very cost efficient solution towards high performance and extremely low CO2 figures,” he told us, “the layout is the most efficient way when it comes to frictional losses, it’s an intelligent packaging solution – others have put the motor between the transmission and the engine which is not as cost efficient, and not as efficient when it comes to frictional losses.”
Talking about CMA, Peter Mertens, Volvo’s R&D boss, told British journalists that it should be viewed as the smaller brother to the larger SPA platform that underpins Volvo’s 90-series family, and says that it will offer a similar degree of what he calls “plug and play” flexibility.
“The architecture is as modular as SPA,” he said, ”we have a very successful blueprint for how to do it and that has been flowed into CMA. You could almost say it’s the little brother of SPA when it comes to flexibility and modularity.”
That means that CMA will allow for both front- and all-wheel drive variants, with Mertens admitting that it will allow Geely to use cheaper components while still allowing Volvo to make versions that will be able to compete in the premium segment. He said that it could even offer a version with an electrically powered rear axle, similar to that of the Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine, although that would come later.