Volvo Cars has launched its new three-cylinder Drive-E powertrain in the XC40, the company’s first entry into the compact premium SUV segment.

The new powertrain is the first three-cylinder engine in the company’s 91-year history.

The all-new 1.5 litre T3, three-cylinder, direct-injection petrol engine was developed in-house using the same modular design as Volvo’s four-cylinder Drive-E engines. The three-cylinder powertrain comes with a six-speed transmission. An optional eight-speed transmission will follow next year.

In line with Volvo Cars’ strategy to continue improving economies of scale, the engine will roll off the same production lines as the company’s four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines.

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“Our new three-cylinder engine is an exciting development for the XC40 and for Volvo Cars in general,” said Alexander Petrofski, senior director cluster 40 at Volvo Cars. “This compact engine design provides the flexibility we need as we introduce more powertrain options for XC40 customers.”

Volvo’s current D3 110 kW diesel and T4 140 kW petrol engines are also added to broaden the XC40 engine offer.

Furthermore, the new three-cylinder powertrain has been deliberately designed for integration into Twin Engine plug-in hybrid cars. A hybridised as well as a pure electric powertrain option for the XC40 will be added later.

XC40 customers will have plenty of choice in trim levels, including Momentum and R-Design, plus the luxurious new Inscription level.

The Inscription trim offers exterior styling choices with 18”, 19” or 20” rims, unique skid plates, side window and grill mesh chrome, plus model-specific car colours. Inside, Inscription adds a newly designed crystal gear knob and the attractive Driftwood deco, which Volvo first introduced in its award-winning XC60 mid-size SUV.

XC40 customers can further express themselves with accessories like the 21” Black Diamond Cut alloy wheels, and the new accessory styling kit that offers brushed stainless steel skid plates and integrated dual tailpipes.

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“The new XC40 is a youthful car that suits drivers with a strong sense of individuality,” said Alexander Petrofski. “We want our customers to be able to make a statement their way – subtle or otherwise – and so we want to offer them more choices, both in performance and styling.”

Says Greg Maruszewski, VCSA Managing Director: “The new XC40 is perfectly suited to the South African market. It’s luxurious, capable and compact, and we’re looking forward to introducing the first derivatives in April.”

Volvo Car South Africa will be launching the XC40 T5 185 kW and D4 140 kW in April this year. The XC40 T3 three-cylinder will follow later in the year toward Q4.