New Volvo V40: Geneva 2012

New Volvo V40

New Volvo V40 at Geneva

We catch up with the new Volvo V40 at Geneva – perhaps the most important car for Volvo in years – and find it entirely convincing.

The new Volvo V40 was perhaps the most leaked car ahead of its official debut earlier this week at Geneva 2012, and we already knew most of what it would offer. But catching up with the V40 at Geneva confirms what we felt about the V40 when we got the first information – it’s entirely convincing.

Volvo sit in a place in the car buyers’ mind as better than mainstream but not quite premium. But the new V40 could change all that and push Volvo where the really want to be; a premium alternative to the German triumvirate.

Going head to head with the BMW 1 Series, Mercedes A Class and Audi A3 is a daunting prospect, but the new V40 looks like it’s up to the task. The exterior design is V60 on a boil wash but with clever twists. It sits low and wide with an elegant but muscular stance.

The interior is properly premium, but Swedish premium (and for the pedants, the V40 is still Swedish even though it’s Chinese owned) with an elegant simplicity and warmth the German offerings can’t compete with. Good Swedish interiors are like good British ones; you can’t quite put your finger on it but they feel right. They’re human instead of technical, inviting and cosseting rather than CAD perfection brought to life. They make you smile.

Under the bonnet Volvo are promising an engine for everyman – everything from a 94g/km congestion charge busting eco job to a better that warm 250bhp T5 with a sub-7 second 0-60mph. The chassis sounds promising too, with a dynamic chassis as standard and a lowered sports chassis as an option, both with monotube dampers with compression and return damping for quicker response – just stiffer on the Sports chassis.

Toys abound – some as standard, some as options – and safety features are the usual Volvo high priority. It all adds up to perhaps the most convincing new Volvo in a generation. But…

The ‘but’ is how it drives and how it’s priced. We’ll find out what price Volvo are putting on the new V40 at the end of the month, and Volvo start building the new V40 in May.

But if Volvo manage to price the V40 right, and it drives half as good as it looks, Volvo’s target of 90,000 V40s a year should be a breeze.

2012 Volvo V40 Photo Gallery

(14 photos – click any thumbnail for full size)

2012 Volvo V40 Video

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What do you think?