Volvo Cars has launched its first three-cylinder engine, which will make its debut in the new XC40.

The Swedish automaker says the new 1,5-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine was developed in-house using the same modular design as the brand's 2,0-litre, four-cylinder Drive-E engines.

In terms of output, the T3 is rated at 117 kW at 5 000 r/min and 265 N.m between 1 850 and 3 850 r/min. Volvo says the XC40 T3 will complete the obligatory 0-100 km/h sprint in a claimed 9,4 seconds, before topping out at 200 km/h.

The engine will roll off the same production lines as the company's four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines. The three-pot will come mated to a six-speed manual transmission, with an optional eight-speed automatic transmission to follow at a later stage.

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

The new Volvo XC40 is expected to launch in South Africa in April 2018 (check out indicative pricing here), with the three-cylinder model set to arrive in the final quarter of the year.

Volvo XC40