Volvo V40 - Geneva Motor Show 2012

Volvo says, “Every car we make, we take steps in pushing our image and our design but I think the V40 really captures what we believe to be the ultimate C-segment hatchback.” – Simon Lamarre, Chief Designer, Volvo Product Design.

Spec sheet: An all-new five-door hatchback that looks to square up to, amongst others, VW’s Golf. Luxury is very much the byword here and the V40 represents an introduction for Volvo’s ‘Designed Around You’ strategy.

Built on a Ford Focus platform, the V40 will replace the now slightly bland S40 and its estate derivative, the V50. In terms of Volvo’s model lineup, the V40 addresses the problem caused by the lack of a 5-door C30, which has hindered Volvo as competitor to Audi’s A3 and the BMW 1-series.

Chris Benjamin, the man responsible for the V40’s sweeping exterior design, describes the V40 as a “dramatic new statement” and it’s fair to say that it looks far more lithe in the metal than in any of the pre-show press shots. The V40 also looks far more consummate than a C30 with two extra doors squeezed in could ever have.

The V40 is also impressive in that Volvo have really moved their design forward whilst staying true to the hallmarks of their modern design language. The strong shoulder line we’ve come to expect from Volvo is still apparent, although more to the tune of the V60 than the C30 and there’s a rising rear window line that leads nicely into the C-pillar and belies the V40’s considerable size for this segment.

Aside from an undulating front air-intake that runs the width of the bumper, the front of the V40 is relatively conservative – it’s the contoured rear that’s the most striking. A more exaggerated design sees the rear window glass extend further down the boot-lid, mimicking the C30, and wraparound rear lights exaggerate the V40’s width and assured stance.

The aesthetics aren’t skin deep either. The cabin feels intimate, losing the Spartan approach of Volvo interiors past – something endemic in the C30. Furthermore, the V40 represents a further step for pedestrian safety with an airbag in the bonnet, a world first. Well, it was going to be either them or Saab….