Volvo XC40 Will Be Fresh, Creative, and Distinctive - Unlike Its Competitors, Volvo Says

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
volvo xc40 will be fresh creative and distinctive unlike its competitors volvo

There’s no denying the Volvo 40.1 concept that previewed this fall’s production XC40 appears both to be sufficiently Volvo-like and sufficiently unlike anything else.

If the actual Volvo XC40 maintains this relatively unusual design, Volvo will have a viable, eye-catching alternative to the Audi Q3, BMW X1, Infiniti QX30, and Mercedes-Benz GLA before most luxury auto brands.

As for the Q3, X1, QX30, and GLA, Volvo isn’t entirely sold on their merits.

As it stands, this subcompact luxury crossover segment is “lacking individuality and playfulness,” according to AutoCar.

Yes, playfulness.

Jaguar, a former Ford Premier Automotive Group partner of Volvo, might change all that with the E-Pace, which features the silhouette of a jaguar cub following its mother on both the windshield and in the puddle lights.

Volvo, however, has a broader stylistic vision for small luxury crossovers; more than just easter eggs or AMG GLA45 graphics. Thomas Ingenlath, senior vice president of design at Volvo, tells AutoCar, “We wanted the XC40 to be a fresh, creative and distinctive member of the Volvo line-up, allowing its drivers to put their personality in their driveway.”

Volvo will therefore supply the XC40 range with more colors — outside and in — than any Volvo in history. There’s talk of orange carpet, for instance, and rugged wood textures.

Volvo can insult its rivals’ subcompact luxury utility vehicles, even in a typically polite Swedish way. But the real reason the upcoming XC40 will need to stand out from the pack is the brand’s limited presence in the SUV/crossover market.

The second-generation XC90 was way too long in reaching the market. Though a blessing for Volvo’s U.S. dealers, even in this booming SUV/crossover market the XC90 is on track for 36 percent fewer XC90 sales in 2017 than the first-generation XC90 managed at its peak in 2004. The XC60, which became Volvo USA’s major player at the end of the first-gen XC90’s tenure, averages fewer than 19,000 U.S. sales per year. The Audi Q5, BMW X3, Lexus NX, and Mercedes-Benz GLC averaged 49,000 U.S. sales last year.

With Volvo’s passenger cars joining in with fewer than 2,200 U.S. sales per month, Volvo needs the XC40 to be more than a niche presence in a niche sector. To become a noticeable alternative to the established group of subcompact luxury crossovers, Volvo will shirk the serious and avoid the austere.

Will it work? Nah, flashy design is probably not enough. So look for Volvo to undercut its rivals’ MSRPs, as well.

[Image: Volvo Cars]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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  • Garrett Garrett on Jul 25, 2017

    Volvo is on a roll -- every single one of their new vehicles is a huge leap forward from a style perspective, and I would gladly put one of them in my garage. Can you imagine an XC40 with the T8 hybrid system?

    • Quaquaqua Quaquaqua on Jul 25, 2017

      First you'd have to show me a Volvo that handles as well as its competition or at the very least rides like it. The new Volvos are stately and beautifully finished. But underneath it all they drive worse than a Honda. That's not good.

  • Tj21 Tj21 on Jul 26, 2017

    I love everything that Volvo is doing lately, really hoping they continue to build vehicles in Belgium or Sweden, would love an s40 one day, but not a Chinese built "entry luxury" vehicle.

  • Lou_BC I realized it wasn't EV's burning by the absence of the usual suspects.
  • Kwik_Shift A manual bug eye WRX wagon (2001-03) would interest me more.
  • El scotto Ferrari develops a way to put a virtual car in real time traffic? Will it be multiple virtual players in a possible infinite number of real drivers in real time situations?This will be one of the greatest things ever or a niche video game.
  • El scotto It's said that many military regulations are written in blood. Every ship's wheel or aircraft joystick has a human hand on it at all times when a ship or aircraft are under power. Tanks, APC's and other ground vehicles probably operate under the same rules. Even with those regulations accidents still happen. There is no such thing as an unmanned autopilot, ever. Someone has to be on the stick at all times.I do not think MB understands what a sue-happy nation the USA is. The 1st leased MB in a wreck while this Type 3 "Semi-Autonomous" driving, or whatever it is called, will result in an automatic lawsuit. Expect a class action lawsuit after the 1st personal lawsuit is filed. Yes, new MB owners can afford and ever are lawyers.Mercedes Benz; "The best wrecks or nothing!" Oh and has anyone noticed that Toyota/Lexus and Honda/Acura, the gray suit with white shirt and striped tie, automobile companies have stayed away from any autonomous driving nonsense?
  • Merc190 Very streamlined but not distinctive enough for a Mercedes. And besides, the streetcar of the early 20th century seems a far more efficient and effective method of people moving in essentially an autonomous manner. A motor car is meant to be driven with proper attention to what's important in every situation. To design it otherwise is idiotic and contradictory.