Pretoria - Volvo South Africa has confirmed that the company’s first-ever three-cylinder engine will be available locally in the forthcoming XC40 compact SUV, although it won’t be available initially.

The XC40 is scheduled to reach our shores in April this year - with the 185kW T5 petrol and 140kW D4 diesel forming the initial range - but the line-up will expand to include other 2-litre four-cylinder versions in lower states of tune, while the three-cylinder T3 model is expected to arrive around the fourth quarter of 2018.

The 1.5-litre direct injection turbocharged three-pot will at first be offered with a six-speed manual gearbox only, but an eight-speed automatic will join the options list in 2018.

Volvo has yet to disclose the new 1.5's output and performance data, but we did find an overseas brochure that listed the T3 at a "preliminary" 115kW, with the torque figure still "tbc". 

The three-cylinder is heavily based on Volvo’s latest Drive-E family of 2-litre four-pot engines - even sporting the same bore and stroke to allow production on the same line. 

It was also designed from the ground up to be compatible with Volvo’s ‘Twin Engine’ hybrid system, meaning that more affordable plug-in hybrids are on the horizon.

Although local XC40 pricing has yet to be announced, Volvo has indicated that once the full line-up was on stream, the range would likely start at under R500 000, while range-toppers are expected to sell for around R650 000.

WATCH: Volvo XC40 driving footage:

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