What it is: Scandinavian design for the masses in crossover, sedan, and eventually wagon shapes, no assembly required.
Why it matters: Volvo hasn’t sold the compact 40-series in the U.S. in six years, but the premium-compact SUV and sedan classes have been booming ever since.
Platform: Volvo’s new Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) accommodates front- or all-wheel drive and adjusts in every dimension save for the distance between the front axle and the firewall. Powertrain: Turbocharged three- and four-cylinder engines will pair with a sixspeed automatic transmission, although the three may only make it to U.S. showrooms in the planned plug-in–hybrid models. That powertrain will combine the boosted three-cylinder, a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, an electric motor/ generator, and a 9.7-kWh battery for approximately 250 horsepower. A battery-electric model in an unspecified body style should deliver more than 200 miles of range.
Competition: For the XC40: Audi Q3, Infiniti QX30, Lexus NX, Lincoln MKC, Mercedes-Benz GLA-class. For the S40: Acura ILX, Audi A3, Lexus CT200h, Mercedes-Benz CLA-class. For the V40: Volkswagen Golf SportWagen.
What might go wrong: Lynk & Co, a Chinese automaker owned by the same holding company as Volvo, plans to develop cars on the XC40’s platform. That demands a delicate balance between controlling costs for the mainstream brand and optimizing the structure for the luxury marque. Volvo has its work cut out for it if its CMA is going to match Volkswagen’s MQB—not just in versatility but in perceived quality as well. All MQB vehicles drive like premium hardware, even the most pedestrian ones.
Estimated arrival and price: Expect the XC40 to launch at the end of the year with a starting price under $35,000. The S40 sedan will follow about a year later at a slight discount, with the V40 wagon arriving in 2019.