Sleek, well-built hatch
Volvo’s ‘‘uber-different’’ V40 hatch makes its arrival in New Zealand soon. Rob Maetzig says it’s a beautiful machine with plenty of appealing features to offer.
Some marketers will tell you that it is very dangerous to create an advertising campaign for a particular product that takes aim at – even names – the opposition product.
The danger, they will say, is that such campaigns can backfire because all they do is divert attention to the very product intended to pinch the sales off.
If that theory is true, then there’s an inherent danger in a new campaign about to be kicked off by Volvo New Zealand to market its first five-door hatchback in 20 years – the V40.
This vehicle initially goes on sale next week in 2.0-litre five-cylinder turbodiesel guise for $49,990 with manual and $54,990 with auto, and will be joined in February next year by a 2.0-litre five-cylinder petrol model for $52,990 and a 2.5-litre five-cylinder R-Design petrol model for $64,990.
Volvo V40 replaces the C30, S40 and V50 models in New Zealand, and is a vitally important vehicle because it will enter a growing and already congested market segment filled with such product as Volkswagen Golf, BMW 1-Series, Audi A3, and Mercedes-Benz B and A-Class.
That’s a solid lineup of very good European product – and that’s what Volvo New Zealand is targeting in its soon-to-be-launched marketing campaign.
Using the strapline ‘‘Uber-different’’ and dismissing European rivals as ‘‘Benzzzzz’’, ‘‘Yavwn’’ and even ‘‘Predictabmwle’’, the campaign will push messages such as ‘‘Only $49,990 – that’s all, Volks’’, and ‘‘Welcome the new A-Rival’’, and ‘‘Avoid the Teutonic Plague’’.
At a media function in Auckland this week, Volvo New Zealand was questioned heavily over the wisdom of moving in this marketing direction – to which general manager Steve Kenchington replied that his company has no choice.
‘‘Our challenge is to convince the public that Volvo is a worthy competitor to the German brands. We’ve got to get people into our showrooms to look at our product, and we’ve got to get bums on to our seats. So frankly it is time for us to roll up our sleeves,’’ he said.
Certainly it will be very important for Volvo that the V40 can hit the marketing ground running in New Zealand, because if it does sell well it will add to an improving sales position in this country – and with more product to come.
Already, this year has seen more Volvos sold than the whole of last year, and if the company can finish with more than 275 sales it will be its best year since 2005.
Limited supply means the company will only have 30 of the new V40s to sell this year, but it is aiming to sell at least 100 units next year. Not only that, but 2013 will also see facelifts to the S60, V60 and XC60, plus the arrival of an XC version of the V40. That will be followed – probably in early 2015 – by a brand-new XC90, and also an XC40.
‘‘So the medium-term future looks exciting for Volvo,’’ said Kenchington. ‘‘There’s no better time for us to carve our bit out of that German segment.’’
So if late 2012 can be considered as a sort of new beginning for Volvo in New Zealand, then there’s no better car with which to mark that beginning than the V40.
It’s a beautiful machine. Built on the same platform as the Ford Focus – and in fact the last model to result from the nowdead Ford-Volvo alliance – it is a sleek, well-built and highly appointed five-door hatch that arrives with a very high level of standard and optional safety specification.
V40’s exterior look is unmistakably Volvo. The hatch sits lowslung and wide on the road, and a special visual feature is a flick at the end of a crease along its shoulder line that Volvo says gives it a look reminiscent of the legendary Volvo P1800 of the 1960s.
Interior is pretty Volvo too. This new model features the Swedish marque’s signature ultra-slim centre stack, and there’s nice use of silk metal chrome finishing throughout to help give the vehicle a premium feel. As is usual with any Volvo, seating – particularly at the front – is among the best on the market.
With all seats in use the rear load area is 402 litres which betters all the opposition apart from the Benz B-Class, and when the rear seats are folded down this increases to 1032 litres which is among the worst of the Euro hatch fleet, but still a lot of room.