VOLVO has embarked on a model-renewal overhaul as part of a multi-billion dollar investment splurge by owner Geely, that will make the latest Volvo XC90 large luxury SUV released only last year, its oldest model inside four years.
Hot on the heels of the V541-series S90 sedan’s October launch will be the V542 V90 wagon by mid 2017. Replacing the S80 and V70 respectively, both will also be joined around the same time by the racier R-Design sports kit variants, as well as the T8 ‘Twin Engine’ petrol-electric eco/performance hybrids.
Additionally, later next year should see the jacked-up V543 V90 Cross Country, Sweden’s answer to the Audi A6 Allroad, to further boost Volvo’s large-car assault on the German luxury establishment. This time it will serve as the replacement for the XC70, which is no longer in production.
Stepping a couple of segments down, Volvo’s next-gen small-car range is also nearing completion. Built on the all-new (and also scalable) CMA Compact Modular Architecture, and spearheaded (as with the XC90 last year) by an SUV/crossover dubbed the XC40, it will take on the ultra-successful Mercedes-Benz GLA and Audi Q3 set when sales commence in Australia late in 2017 or in early 2018.
That will be followed not long afterwards by the S40 sedan and V40 hatch offshoots, targeting a host of competitors including the Mercedes-Benz CLA and A-Class; BMW 1 Series; Lexus CT and the Audi A3 Sportback. All three of these 40 Series models will usher in Volvo’s GEP3 three-cylinder petrol powertrains, starting with a 1.5-litre unit, and most likely downsizing to 1.2 and/or 1.0-litre alternatives later on.
We hear that either the front or all four wheels will be driven by a choice of transmissions – a six-speed manual, six-speed torque converter auto, or a seven-speed DCT dual clutch gearbox. The eight-speed self-shifters will be reserved for the larger SPA vehicles for the time being.
Note that full BEV battery electric as well as plug-in hybrid spin-offs of these are also in the pipeline, and slated to surface sometime in 2019.
Last, but certainly not least in the Volvo new-model rollcall, is the next-gen XC60 medium SUV; the shield brand’s bestseller in Australia, and sprung off the same ‘Cluster 90’ SPA Scalable Platform Architecture as the XC90/S90/V90 trio. Expected from late in 2018, ahead of S60 sedan and V60 wagon versions some months after that, these BMW 3 Series/Mercedes C-Class/Audi A4 busters will finally sever the technology-sharing ties with previous owners Ford.
Like their larger SPA-based siblings, the Cluster 60 cars will also be larger, lighter, and stronger than before, with a significant rise in passive (such as boron steel in the superstructure), as well as active, safety. These will also use the VEA Drive-e family of modular 1.5 and 2.0-litre turbo petrol and 2.0-litre turbo-diesel powertrains, as well as the now-inevitable T8 petrol-electric hybrid options.
Volvo says it cannot as-yet contemplate anything smaller than the Cluster 40 range, with resources as sorely stretched as they are right now. “We are only a small Swedish company,” one spokesman told Wheels. “There is very little profit potential in something like an Audi A1 competitor… and anyway, we are far too busy right now.”
Finally, a word on Polestar: We hear that the VEA 2.0-litre petrol engine is capable of pumping out in excess of 300kW of power; with one insider suggesting that nearly 400kW is possible. Volvo is keeping mum on whether it will challenge the BMW M, Mercedes-AMG, and Audi RS hotshots, but if performance figures like that are possible, the Swedes would be silly not to try.
Volvo New Model Timetable
S90 – October 2016
V90 – Q2 2017
V90 Cross Country – end of 2017
XC40 – end of 2017/early 2018
S40/V40 – 2018
XC60 – 2018
S60/V60 – late 2018/2019