2011 Volvo C30 R Design - Red - rear three-quarter dynamic cornering view

Up or down? That's the question about which way Volvo is going to take its brand: solidly into premium, full-size sedan luxury or into a smaller near-premium offering to challenge what is, right now, a very hot segment. Most of the chatter has centered around the former option, with Volvo declaring it would go for the top luxury guns, a patent filing suggesting an S100 flagship, and talk of a C90 luxury coupe to fight models like the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe.

In between, that there's been speculation on the other side, with reports that Volvo is looking for a partner on a small car. Officials have themselves confirmed that within ten years, they won't have an engine larger than four cylinders, and everyone figuring that Volvo will have to do something with the spot occupied by the expiring C30 other than rename it and add two doors. The V40 takes the fight to the A3 and BMW 1 Series five-door, but what about premium and popular subcompacts like the Mini Cooper, Audi A1 and A-Class?

Volvo CEO Stefan Jacoby tells Automotive News that the Swedish brand is considering a model in that space, but to do so would require not only the aformentioned partner, but a smaller engine. We're not sure what to make of the engine comment, since it apparently already has smaller engines planned for its larger line. If such a car comes, it won't be soon; Jacoby says his priorities now are "Volvo's core ranges" and getting the Scalable Platform Architecture fully integrated into the brand's next-generation cars. But with the scattershot temperament of Volvo news lately, who knows.