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Car and Driver: Life Begins at 40: Volvo Rules out Smaller Models


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2008 Volvo C30

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Volvo has always been high in the running for being the world’s most rational automaker, with independence from Ford having allowed it to create what will go on to become an entire range of models from just two platforms and a single engine architecture. But despite the popularity of  premium small cars in some parts of the world, Volvo says that it has no intentions of making anything smaller than the upcoming 40-series, which will be sold around the globe.

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“We obviously move towards segments that we can sell around the world,” Hakan Samuelsson, the company’s CEO, told us at the unveiling of the new 40-series concepts in Gothenburg last week, “it’s very hard to make money in that segment right now… of course we could downsize [our CMA architecture, which underpins the 40-seres] but that is not on the agenda.”

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Having been bitten before, Volvo is shy of risking the market’s teeth again. The company’s last compact model, the C30 (at top), never got close to the popularity of cars like the Mini, managing global sales of just 200,000 over its eight-year lifespan.

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That’s not to say that Volvo’s lineup will be all white-bread sedans and crossovers. When we spoke to the company’s R&D boss, he said that we’ll have to wait for more “emotional” models until the product matrix grid is filled, at which point the still-recent XC90 will be Volvo’s oldest model. That’s nearly four years away, although we’ve also been told to expect some Polestar-delivered excitement before then, including a model using the full-fat 450-hp version of the company’s triple-charged engine.

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