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Volvo recently revealed two new compact concept cars on the interwebs not too long ago, but we had the opportunity to view both the 40.1 and 40.2 up close at the Volvo Design Studio in Gothenburg, Sweden. Here, we’re kicking things off with the first of the two concepts, the 40.1.

Built on the company’s Compact Modular Architecture (CMA), the 40.1 concept previews the Swedish carmaker’s upcoming XC40 SUV, which is slated to make its debut next year, according to Dr. Peter Mertens, senior vice president, Research and Development at Volvo.

“When we decided to do a new small architecture and really go aggressively globally into the C-segment, right now, we’re very much hinged around Europe with the V40. We did enormous amount of studies and interviews with potential customers in the segment, with customers that have competitor vehicles (BMW, Audi, Mercedes, Volkswagen, etc).

“There was a pretty consistent result around the globe. In Europe, in America, in Asia, four things that came up, at least as common ground, not always identical in the priorities but common ground,” Mertens told during a group interview. Volvo’s homework revealed four key points that most people are looking for – expressive design, day-to-day usage, “in command” SUV feel and it must be a city car.

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As you can tell, “expressive design” is something the Volvo 40.1 concept isn’t short of. The signature “Thor’s Hammer” headlamps flank a large grille, with LED lighting located at the fog lamp enclosures, beside the lower intake. It’s distinctively Volvo, and certainly visually differentiated from the larger XC90, which makes it a more interesting “shoe” compared to a uniformed look by competitors.

Things get even more interesting down the sides, with large 20-inch wheels fitted to provide an imposing stance. From this angle, Volvo’s design philosophy of a short overhang is clearly evident as well. You’ll also spot the two-tone body colour, with the side windows splitting the white from black.

Other details include C-pillar-positioned door handles and a traditional fuel filler cover. Cooler highlights here are the side “mirrors”, which are now cameras, with clear glass elements attached to them. However, don’t expect the sideview cameras to make it onto the production XC40.

On the left side, there is an additional cover near the front wheel arch, hinting at the electrification potential of the concept and possibly, the XC40. Finally, the rear has a wide hatch, which is framed by C-shaped tail lamps that extend all the way to the roof-mounted spoiler.

No info on the interior, so it’s hard to determine if the concept fulfills the remaining three key points, especially in production guise. Mertens did reveal that the vehicle’s seat reference point (SRP) is pushed to the limit for that SUV upright seating position buyers are looking for. He also claimed that there is a “huge luggage space” but no numbers were supplied, for now.

Based on the sole shot of the “interior,” the cabin is clearly still a work in progress. Elements from the XC90, including a large Sensus infotainment screen, can be seen, along with the steering wheel, and we should expect the final production car to feature them as well.

We’ve also been told that the concept shown does not actually have an engine or transmission fitted, and serves primarily as a design showcase. However, we already know that the CMA platform can be fitted with Volvo’s T5 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid powertrain, which we’ve detailed here.

Other powertrain combinations involving the range of Drive-E engines will also be available. When asked if a Polestar version of the XC40 is a possibility, Mertens simply answered, “sure.”

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Volvo’s new CMA will serve as the global foundation for an entire range of 40 Series cars, with the XC40, set to make its global premiere in production guise in 2017, likely to be the first model in said range. The “global” part is important in the company’s goal to hit 800,000 sales worldwide by 2020. Currently, the V40 isn’t sold in certain countries, like in the US.

As Mertens puts it, “it was mistake. It’s easy to say it from my perspective now, it is a mistake. You can’t have a car, making it profitable and earn good money if it is only a European car, it doesn’t work. It has to be global.”

What do you think of the Volvo 40.1 concept in the metal? Does the preview for the upcoming XC40 SUV show good promise and is appeal to buyers? Let us know what you think in the comments.