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by Jez Spinks

The new Volvo V40 has been revealed in official pictures, confirming leaked images of the Swedish brand’s new rival for the Audi A3, BMW 1-Series, Mercedes-Benz A-Class and Volkswagen Golf.

Volvo says the new Volvo V40 will account for about 90,000 annual sales, with Europe taking 85 per cent of production.

The Volvo V40 will be built at the company’s Ghent plant in Belgium, and the five-door hatch is expected to go on sale in Australia in late 2012 or early 2013.

The Volvo V40 will be offered with an extensive choice of petrol and diesel engines, all featuring stop-start and teamed with either manual or automatic gearboxes.

Volvo has released only a few details of the engines, but says a four-cylinder turbocharged petrol T5 model will produce 187kW and propel the Volvo V50 T5 from 0-100km/h in 6.7 seconds.

The cleanest turbo diesel will have emissions of just 94g/km.

Volvo claims the V40 will offer “class-leading driving dynamics”, which is a big call considering the handling abilities of the rear-wheel-drive BMW 1-Series and the fact the Swedish car maker has yet to lead any vehicle segment in regards to dynamics.

The picture of the Volvo V40 cabin suggests the hatch will have a sufficiently premium interior that builds on the design flair and material quality that has impressed in the XC60 SUV, S60 sedan and V60 wagon.

The Volvo V40 model pictured features stitched leather seats and door trim, with leather applied to other areas such as the steering wheel and handbrake lever.

The instrument panel includes a colour display with digital speedo and tachometer, while a multi-function screen in the centre of the dash is likely to feature interchangeable information such as audio and safety systems.

The safety systems will include Volvo’s City Safety system that can automatically brake the car to a standstill to help avoid a rear-end collision, now from a speed of up to 50km/h (from 30km/h on other Volvos).

Volvo’s Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake system also transfers into the V40, along with other technologies such as active cruise control and lane departure warning.

It’s not yet clear which features would be standard or optional in the Volvo V40 range.

Volvo isn’t expected to replace the C30 three-door coupe, which costs from $36,990.

Pricing for the new Volvo V40 could start from a similar price point to ensure it’s within striking range of the VW Golf while also being competitive against the luxury German hatchbacks.

The 2012 Geneva motor show will also see the unveiling of the new Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz A-Class luxury hatchbacks.

Read CarAdvice’s 2012 Geneva motor show preview.