Volvo Prepares to Sell V40 Compact Wagon
After a nearly year-long reveal at most major auto shows starting with Geneva in March, Volvo is preparing to sell its all-new V40 wagon. And like so many potentially great cars, we in the U.S. won’t get it.
What is it about great small cars that never seem to come to America? European nations and Japan typically enjoy quirky, decent-performing, high-efficiency, and typically desirable compacts, subcompacts, and microcars we just never seem to have the chance to buy. Perhaps that’s because when afforded the opportunity, the manufacturers either screw it up and make it uncompetitive in terms of price and/or fuel mileage (I’m looking at you, Smart ForTwo and Scion iQ,) or buyers are either weirded out or uninspired by it and therefore largely ignore a new small car (hello, Fiat 500.)
Volvo’s latest entry at the smaller end of the scale is an all-new V40 wagon. Rather than waste time either botching the launch of the model in the United States or watching in dismay as American buyers summarily ignored the model, sources say it will not be sold here. The strategy in the United States is to sell more high-priced, thirsty SUVs, apparently.
The new V40 is a compact car, by American standards, measuring a little more than 14 feet in length and just a smidge less than six feet wide. Inside, there’s a cargo area that’ll hold 12 cubic feet of your junk with the rear seats up and a back seat that offers up more than 33 inches of legroom– more than enough to schlep around all but the lankiest teenagers. One of its more unusual features– but one that is in keeping with Volvo’s tradition of safety-mindedness– is its ability to inflate airbags on the outside of the car to protect a pedestrian in the event you somehow manage to beat the computer nannies designed to automatically stop the car from speeds of up to 31 mph when an object is detected immediately in front of it.
Engine choices, as usual, are far broader than we’d likely see in America if the car were offered for sale here. Engines range from three different diesels making between 115 and 170 horsepower to two gasoline (or as the Swedes say, “petrol”) engines making 150 and 180 horsepower– either gasser being plenty powerful enough to move a car of this size at a respectable clip. (As an example of how quick the car can be with that amount of power, the most powerful 170-horsepower diesel model will go from 0 to 62 mph in just 8.6 seconds, according to Volvo.) The 150-horsepower gas engine is rated at about 43 miles per gallon in mixed driving on the European cycle. It would probably be rated for less under the EPA’s testing requirements, but with tweaks it might make the magical 40 mpg highway sought by most small cars in America today.
As far as I could tell from several sources, the V40 is not officially on sale yet in Europe or anywhere else in the world, but should be arriving at dealerships soon. Volvo’s international website does not list a manufacturer’s suggested retail price for the model as of this writing.
Call me crazy, but even though I don’t know what it costs, I wish it were available here. It would make a slightly more practical stablemate to the sexy C30 coupe on sale here, and might even draw some first-timers to the Volvo brand. How could either of those be a bad thing?
Oh, right, by possibly stealing sales from Volvo’s SUVs. Because those of us shopping small hatchbacks with high fuel efficiency are obviously thinking an SUV is the perfect solution. Sigh.