Volvo just debuted a concept called 40.1, which gives us a peek at the forthcoming XC40 compact crossover hitting the streets sometime next year. Volvo showed it earlier today in Gothenburg, Sweden, alongside a similar-looking compact sedan. The automaker says the two concepts “demonstrate for the first time how Volvo plans to expand into the large and lucrative global market for premium small cars with a range of vehicles that combine bold exterior and interior design with industry-leading connectivity, electrification, and autonomous-drive technologies.”
The front-wheel-drive 40.1 concept that will grow into the XC40 has a hybrid powertrain that pairs a three-cylinder engine with an electric motor, which should offer somewhere around 30 miles of electric-only driving range. We love the forward-thinking, eco-friendly engineering, especially in a compact crossover. But what should we think of the 40.1’s exterior design?
Our man on the ground in Gothenburg, Automobile’s Detroit bureau chief Todd Lassa, says the 40.1 looks “stunning in white” and that its design is “clean and modern,” noting that it looks “especially handsome from the front.” But most of us, relegated to looking at photos on our computer screens, were hoping to be wooed by some small, sleek crossover with an understatedly handsome, plain-but-alluring exterior that upheld longstanding hallmarks of Swedish design. Instead we got this Scion-looking thing with a squat stance, sharp creases, and an aggressive, geometric façade that shares some styling cues with the gorgeous XC90, one of our seven 2016 All-Stars, but not nearly as many as we’d hoped. “Our customers do not expect us to do what we did yesterday,” says Volvo design chief Thomas Ingenlath.
Fair enough. But we were actually just working on a story that required us to render what we thought the XC40 would look like, so we asked illustrator Erik Andrén to take a crack at it. And you know what? We prefer where his head is. We’ll have to wait for our automotive design editor, Robert Cumberford, to give us his invaluable input, but we want to know what you think: Volvo’s 40.1 concept or our XC40 illustration?