I predicted last week that the launch of the Volvo V40 will be a more significant event for most of us than Ferrari’s F620, which is officially unveiled tomorrow.

Whilst the launch of a V12 Ferrari will always be a highpoint of any motoring year, the new V40 is likely to be more influential to a greater cross-section of car buyers.

Volvo have been punching above their reputation for a few years now, with the XC60 and V60/S60 becoming serious contenders in their sectors, and this all-new V40 could be a game-changer for the Swedish car maker, as more people discover that the ‘safe and boring’ brand is now a viable alternative to the class leaders from BMW, Audi, Mercedes and Lexus.

Due to be unveiled at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show on 6th March, the V40 is ready to overtake the competition in the Premium Hatchback class with sharpened features and characteristics from Volvo’s executive models wrapped in a sleek, compact package.

“The all-new V40 is the first new model that is fully developed according to our human-centric, Designed Around You strategy. Charged with an outstanding set of high-tech features it definitely will give our toughest competitors a headache,” says Stefan Jacoby, President and CEO of Volvo Car Corporation.

“Thanks to input from customers all over the world our most compact V-range model features an outstanding blend of design, safety and versatility. The car is loaded with features that buyers of modern luxury cars want,” explains Jacoby.

Driving experience first and foremost

It’s nice to see a Volvo press release begin with dynamics. Volvo say that the chassis is designed to offer the agile, connected experience that creates true driving pleasure.

The engine range is extensive, spanning from Volvo’s first diesel with CO2 emissions of just 94 g/km to the turbocharged T5 petrol engine with 250 bhp and acceleration from 0 to 62 mph in 6.7 seconds. All engine versions feature start-stop and braking energy regeneration, no matter whether they are fitted with a manual or automatic gearbox.

“The all-new V40 wraps you in a super-comfortable cockpit with outstanding ergonomics and technology that make you feel informed, focused and relaxed. This driver-centric approach is what modern Volvos are all about,” says Stefan Jacoby.

Safety and technology

As you would expect of a modern Volvo, the new V40 is kitted out with the company’s most novel technology, including Volvo Car Corporation’s groundbreaking Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake and several other new features.

Among the new features are a world-first pedestrian airbag, Lane Keeping Aid with haptic auto steering, and an ingenious Park Assist Pilot that makes parallel parking easy.

The City Safety low-speed collision avoidance system has been further developed and it now operates at speeds up to 31 mph (currently 19mph on other models).

Håkan Abrahamsson, V40 Vehicle Programme Manager said, “The all-new V40 is the most intelligent and safe Volvo model so far. All its features are designed around the driver, helping him or her stay alert and well informed to avoid collisions and dangerous situations”.

“The car also has so many new features that it has an exceptional “density”. It has pretty much everything,” says Abrahamsson.

Volvo expects to sell 90,000 units of the all-new Volvo V40 each year, with 85 percent of that total being destined for European customers. Production starts in May 2012 at Volvo’s plant in Ghent, Belgium. Pricing will be announced nearer the time.