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Paris show: Volvo springs its hot hatch

Blue heaven: The Volvo V40 R-Design will appear at the Paris motor show dressed in trademark blue, although other colours will available in the showroom when it arrives Down Under in February.

Volvo V40 T5 R-Design set to top Swedish brand’s small hatch range in Australia


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13 Sep 2012

YOU are looking at the flagship of the all-new Volvo V40 hatchback range due in Australia in February next year – the 187kW T5 R-Design.

The full-house five-cylinder turbo hot hatch with the entire R-Design chassis and styling treatment has been revealed in these images from the Swedish company ahead of the car’s public debut at this month’s Paris motor show.

The Golf GTI-spanker – capable of completing the 0-100km/h sprint in just 6.5 seconds and a top speed of 250km/h – will appear on the Paris show stand with another mystery V40 variant, completing the release of Volvo’s all-important mass-selling five-door small car.

Although the V40 R-Design package will be available on lesser V40 variants in Europe, Volvo Car Australia (VCA) has confirmed that it will be applied exclusively to the high-performance V40 T5 in this country, in line with its R-Design policy for other models in the Volvo line-up.

VCA says final specifications for the Australian V40 R-Design will be confirmed in due course, but it is set to get the company’s acclaimed 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine that slings out 187kW of power at 5400rpm and 360Nm of torque from 1800rpm to 2400rpm. It will be mated exclusively with a six-speed automatic transmission, driving the front wheels.

This engine is employed across Volvo’s current small car models – the C30, S40, V50 and C70 – in its 169kW form, and was the star of the superseded Ford Focus line-up, powering the rally-bred Focus RS.

This is likely to be the acclaimed engine’s last hurrah, with Volvo working on an all-new four-cylinder engine family to replace all its engines across the entire range from 2014.

Along with the hot engine, the V40 R-Design gets a sports chassis developed in co-operation with one of Volvo’s Swedish Polestar racing teams, dropping the ride height by 10mm from the Dynamic chassis settings and riding on firmer springs and dampers and thicker anti-roll bars.

The front MacPherson struts have 25mm-thick pistons to better cope with lateral loads, while monotube rear suspension dampers have revised valving for quicker response.

The R-Design V40 has a number of subtle exterior enhancements, including 18-inch alloy wheels with a “diamond cut” five-spoke design, a high-gloss black grille, and a metallic grey diffuser at the rear with twin chrome-tipped exhaust pipes.

Inside, R-Design seats are cloaked in a mix of black perforated leather and suede-like Nubuck textile, crowned with an embroidered blue “R” logo.

A special sports steering wheel and matching leather-clad gear shifter and handbrake handle all have contrast stitching.

Sport pedals, aluminium inlays and black headlining complete the package.

And while the Paris show car will be displayed in Volvo’s trademark blue – called Rebel Blue – the R-Design will be available in six other colours, in Europe at least.

Volvo product senior vice president Lex Kerssemakers said the V40 R-Design was agile, responsive and fun to drive.

“The chassis offers the enthusiastic driver a feeling of total control,” he said.

“You get both that connected response that makes a winding country road so much fun as well as the precise, nimble moves it takes to stay on top of busy urban traffic.”

Mr Kerssemakers said previous R-Design models had helped to lower the average age of Volvo customers, and the the V40 variant was expected to give this trend a boost.

In Australia, the V40 R-Design is expected to be launched at the same time as standard variants in an all-turbo line-up that will include petrol and diesel five-cylinder engines.

Available only in five-door hatchback guise, the V40 recently recorded a record safety score in the European New Car Assessment Program crash test regime.

The V40 will debut a world-first pedestrian airbag, which pops from under the trailing edge of the bonnet to cushion the head of a pedestrian hit by the car.

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