The Volvo S40 is reminiscent of Ford Focus in a lot of ways. Still, it comes out as a great car on its own. The S40 is well equipped and is just right for its value. Although it doesn’t come across as the flashiest in the segment, buyers will agree that it suits their preferred combination of comfort, safety and style. The S40 may be smaller than other saloons, but it proves it can compete well with others in the segment.
For a small saloon, the S40 is equipped with powerful engine choices and a few other ample engines for urban use. As with other Volvos, the best engine for the price is the DRIVe 1.6 litre diesel, a highly fuel-efficient car at 63mpg. The 2008 models come equipped with a Start/Stop technology, which even improves the economy of the car at 72mpg. Body roll is kept to a minimum, and cruising is smooth and feels refined.
The cabin is very stylish, and the interior layout is quite minimalist but reasonable, another great application of Volvo’s unique modern styling of its cars. The driver’s seat is very comfortable and luxurious with leather options in higher trims.
Buyers will be happy to know that the car has passed Euro NCAP rating with five stars, thanks in part to the car’s rigid framing and features. Airbags for all passengers and the driver is included in the standard trim. Other technology includes traction control and immobiliser. Isofix child seat anchor points are also available starting with the 2007 models.
The standard equipment is impressive with climate control, electric windows, and alloy wheels. For higher trim levels, other options include leather upholstery, CD multichanger, folding mirrors, and dynamic chassis system. The Sports models also come equipped with their own unique features, including 18-inch alloy wheels and sports steering wheel and gearstick.
Despite the aerodynamic size and the powerful T5 and D5 engine variants, the S40 can feel sluggish and bigger than it is. The response is a tad slow and steering feels light, making it not fun to drive. Getting DRIVe also means that the engine is more laid back than it is, an attribute that not all drivers may want for a saloon. The diesel engines can also come across as noisy.
One big downside of the S40 is its rear seats. The seating is made for three passengers, but two may already find it a bit cramped. The space for the rear passengers are compromised by the size of the car, and the result is that not a lot of adults will find the space adequate enough for a comfortable long ride. The boot is prim for a saloon, and owners may find themselves wanting more space than there is.
Like being forced to choose between the comfortable front seat and the uncomfortable rear seat, buyers are torn between two great options with the Volvo S40. One feature is sacrificed for another, making the S40 effective and disappointing in a lot of ways. The merits of the S40 are a matter of driver’s preference.
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